What is Forest Therapy?


Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Forest Therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.” Studies have demonstrated a wide array of health benefits, especially in the cardiovascular and immune systems, and for stabilizing and improving mood and cognition. We build on those benefits and look beyond, to what happens when people remember that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, and are related to all other beings in fundamental ways.

The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs is the most experienced global leader in guide training, and promoting the development and practice of Forest Therapy. Our Forest Therapy Guide Training draws on the latest medical research, new developments in the field of nature connection, and ancient traditions. Every guided walk is an act of power and beauty, cultivating deep connections that can have transformative impacts on people and nature.

We are a mission-driven Limited Liability Company founded in 2012 as a response to global warming and other environmental catastrophes. Our mission: nurture heart-centered relationships between all peoples and the more-than-human world of nature. Our strategy: We train guides, teaching the pedagogy and methods of The Way of the Guide, and how to apply these in the context of Forest and Nature Therapy.

Forest Therapy is a practice. It is open-ended; there is no prescription for what a person "should" experience, or what benefits they "should" receive. Instead, it is a practice of developing a deepening relationship of reciprocity, in which the forest and the practitioner find a way to work together that supports the wholeness and wellness of each. In Forest Therapy, there is a clearly defined sequence of guided events that provides structure to the experience, while embracing the many opportunities for creativity and serendipity offered by the forest and the individual inspiration of each guide. This practice, developed under the leadership of M. Amos Clifford, the Association's founder, and with contributions from many other guides, has become the most-widely used framework for Forest Therapy in the world; we have trained over 1100 guides who are guiding this practice in 55 countries.