There are quite a few Forest Therapy certification programs across the world, and I did quite a lot of research before settling on INFTA for my training. There are a few in the US that I looked into, but INFTA seemed to offer the most comprehensive and well-balanced training for Forest Therapy Guides, considering not only the mental aspects but the physiological benefits, both of which are backed by decades of research. And not only that, INFTA is an exhaustive worldwide network of health professionals, researchers, and ecological experts.
I live in Japan, and was intending to participate in person for the training, but the online/hybrid option presented itself during a time when meeting in person was impossible so I joined remotely. I will give a short overview of my half-year learning:
The first round of live meetings were an incredible, motivating start to the six month journey. The online framework for tracking my progress and submitting assignments was the best I have used. All of the assignments, expectations, resources, and videos were all easy to access. They were broken down by assignment, and then further by requirements within each assignment. Each time I started a new learning block, there was an introductory video from the President explaining the overview of the unit. As for my own practical training, I conducted four in-person Forest Therapy sessions that were documented with both images and video. After submitting these sessions, I received in-depth feedback to help improve for my next session. And in between these sessions, there were a lot of engaging assignments that scaffolded my learning quite nicely so that I always felt more prepared and capable as I progressed. The instructors are patient and flexible and hold online sessions for trainees to talk about their learning progress, voice concerns, or just talk.
I also have to mention the amount of resources and research papers we have access to through the INFTA. Forest Therapy is a research-backed Public health practice, and I am thankful that my training was in the hands of INFTA, because having access to research from across the Forest Therapy discipline has been an invaluable tool for not only designing Forest Therapy walks, but helping me talk about WHY Forest Therapy is so important not only mentally, but physiologically as well. I think the well-rounded nature of INFTA is what sets them apart from other Forest Therapy training courses.
Jesse Efron, Kyoto/Japan