FOREST THERAPY GUIDE PROFILE
A Forest Therapy Guide is an experienced professional who is certified and qualified with specialist skills, knowledge and competencies in the application of Forest Therapy as a Public health practice in suitable forests and nature settings.
On this page, the general profile, competencies and skills of an INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide are outlined. Also, an overview of what Forest Therapy sessions comprise of is provided. This information will help you to better understand the profession and career opportunities of INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guides. Now, have a look at the key learning outcomes.
On successful completion of the six-months INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide training, learners will be able to:
- gain a thorough understanding of Forest Therapy as an evidence-based Public health practice
- plan, manage and guide high-quality Forest Therapy sessions in accordance with international standards
- recognize and integrate core skills and approaches required to conduct Forest Therapy sessions
- understand the different ways in which humans experience and relate to natural environments
- support participants to become more nature-connected and develop environmental awareness
- gain an internationally recognized qualification to world-wide standards and be eligible for membership with INFTA
- participate in Continuous Professional Development which is current and relevant to the practice
I have been living in the Royal National Park, on the south coast of Sydney for the past fifteen years. During this time, many of my weekends were spent exploring the varied natural environment, which provided access to the bush, beach, flora, fauna and the rich aboriginal history. I grew to love the complexity of this environment, and over time realised how very connected I had become with the land. I loved being here and started to ponder on how I could share with others this unique place.
Then I came across a book by Florence Williams called ‘The Nature Fix’ which introduced me to the idea of Forest Therapy.
After investigating courses about Forest Therapy, I found INFTA was the best option as course provider because it is the world’s leading peak body on Forest Therapy, they are also locally based in Australia. I enrolled in the introductory workshop on Forest Therapy, and from there committed to the six-month course to become a certified INFTA Forest Therapy Guide.
The INFTA training was comprehensive and practical. We explored the science and research behind FT, and addressed the fundamentals of Shinrin yoku Forest Therapy. The training helped us to grow our connection to the natural world.
The INFTA course also taught how to develop your training into a FT guiding business.
There were significant obstacles to overcome during the course; the 2019 bush fire season in Australia, meant the Royal National Park was closed for several months to visitors. Immediately after reopening, the world experienced the Covid-19 pandemic, with the associated social restrictions.
I am grateful to INFTA for their ongoing support through the unexpected challenges encountered during the course. The INFTA instructors gave excellent mentoring, as well as constructive and timely feedback on the assignments. This helped to guide and develop my skill set, to become an INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide.
I have now completed several Forest Therapy walks with participants reporting positive experiences. I feel confident and excited to offer this effective therapy to members of the public, especially as people are needing more contact with nature after prolonged periods of being at home due to Covid-19.
I am looking forward to implementing the next stage of my business plan by guiding a Forest Therapy walk as a certified INFTA guide.
Greg Cassidy from Blackwood, Victoria/Australia, describes his pathway how he has become an INFTA-Certified and Accredited Forest Therapy Guide:
What does a Forest Therapy Guide do?
- plans and conducts guided Public or private Forest Therapy sessions
- supports individuals and groups to reconnect with nature
- helps individuals and groups to de-stress and slow down
- creates awareness about the research-based health benefits of Forest Therapy
What does a Forest Therapy session comprise of?
- two to three hours of guided nature-based activities
- activities conducted in a forest, woodland, park or botanic garden
- a variety of light physical, sensory and creative activities
- individual, pair- or group-based activities
What types of Forest Therapy events are facilitated?
- guided Public Forest Therapy walks (up to 20 people)
- private Forest Therapy sessions
- corporate well-being events
- weekend retreats
- Public awareness workshops
Which qualifications and qualities should a professional Forest Therapy Guide have?
- be INFTA-Certified and Accredited
- be nature-connected and environmentally conscious
- possess good time-management skills and work in a structured, organized way
- be team-oriented, reliable and dedicated
- have common sense
- be an effective communicator, friendly and welcoming
- be able to guide and lead diverse groups of clients, irrespective of their age, gender, culture, ethnicity or religion
- be physically and mentally fit
- maintain Continuous Professional Development with INFTA
Which employment opportunities are there for Forest Therapy Guides?
- INFTA and INFTA-Accredited Training Providers
- self-employed (setting up your own Forest Therapy practice)
- research institutes and organisations
- counselling, coaching and allied health
- local government and councils
- botanic gardens
- educational institutions
- Human Resources management/corporate health management
- health tourism