Our forest therapy guide training is more than a set of techniques, it is also a pathway to understand what it means to be back in relationship with the More-than-Human-World. A Forest Therapy Guide works with the forest as a partner, to support the wellness and healing of people and nature alike. The guide is not a therapist; the forest is the therapist. Guides help others open the doors of their senses and heartfelt presence, so they can enter completely into a healing relationship with the forest and other places in the more-than-human world.
ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guides have gone on to found businesses in alternative health and eco-wellness tourism, work in the non-profit section for special populations, provide corporate wellness programs and retreats, incorporate our techniques in educational settings, and collaborate in wellness programs through botanical gardens, arboretums, and private and public land managers. What began as a dream from the Earth, to simply restore our relationship with the Forest, has become a global movement. We invite you to join us on this incredible path.
We are an international community of Forest Therapy Guides who have been trained by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. There are more than 2000 of us (growing each month), in over 60 countries on six continents, guiding in a dozen or more languages and in many cultures. We share our love of the more-than-human world and a passion to skillfully guide others toward remembering our deep relationship with all beings. We are energized by our shared commitment to establishing forest therapy as a high-quality, standards-based practice that is recognized throughout the world as an effective way to promote the well-being of people and the natural world.
The Association was founded by M. Amos Clifford in 2012. Amos was inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, literally translated as Forest Bathing. His four decades of experience in wilderness guiding, Zen meditation, psychotherapy, educational consulting, and nature connection supported him to create a framework for Forest Therapy that is now taught by many organizations.
The first training that ANFT provided for guides was held in California in 2014. By the end of 2022 we will have trained more than 100 cohorts. In September of 2018 a major milestone was providing our first guide training in a language other than English; we trained a cohort of guides in Spanish at a mountain retreat center in Spain. We are a truly global organization with a commitment to creating practices that are adaptable for every culture. Our training team consists of 15 trainers in 9 different countries and 4 continents.
What energizes our work is our love of nature; but also our sense of impending environmental catastrophe caused by global warming and Western Culture's emphasis on unsustainable patterns of consumption. Our contribution to finding solutions to these problems is to help as many people as possible to develop meaningful relationships with nature.
The reality is that most people don't spend much time in nature; and when we do, we are often distracted and don't interact meaningfully with the plants and other inhabitants of the forest. We agree with Jacques Cousteau that "people protect what they love." Love of nature arises naturally when we come into heartfelt, embodied relationship with it, a kind of relationship that is not characterized as much by "knowing the facts" as it is of our fundamental kinship with all beings.