Shirley Gleeson is a certified Forest Therapy Guide and Mentor with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. She was an assistant trainer for the Forest Therapy training in Ireland in 2016 and completed the Council of Water and Trees training with the association. She has been facilitating Forest Therapy walks nationally and internationally since 2014 after completing her training in Sonoma County, US. Her work has featured in the Irish Times, A Lust for Life and Wellfest as well as giving workshops and conference presentations for the Institute of Public Health Ireland, Environmental Education Ireland, GMIT Outdoor Education Conference and the International Conference on Landscape and Human Health.
Shirley has facilitated Forest Therapy walks for a number of community mental health groups as well as local authority areas. She trained as a Nature Guide with Ecotraining in South Africa in 2008 and undertook an internship with the People and Conservation Departments of the South African National Parks in 2010. She has trained in ecotherapy in the UK.
She is also a qualified social worker with over 15 years’ experience working in the public, private and voluntary sector in Ireland. She received her Bachelor of Social Science from UCD (University College Dublin) and Masters of Social Work from UCC (University College Cork). As well as her Forest Therapy work, Shirley also works as a Senior Social Worker in adult mental health.
She has extensive postgraduate training in expressive arts therapy, counselling, stress management, therapeutic play, dialectical behavioural therapy skills, behavioural family therapy and therapeutic use of mindfulness. She is also a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) facilitator.
She has recently completed an MA in Health Promotion in NUIG (National University of Ireland Galway) and designed, implemented and evaluated a Forest Intervention for adults who were experiencing stress for her thesis.