Nature and Forest Therapy
What is Nature and Forest Therapy?
Nature and Forest Therapy is a therapeutic practice that promotes health and wellness through guided immersive experiences in the forest and other natural settings.
Nature and Forest Therapy has its origins in Japan where it’s known as Shinyin-yoku which translates as “bathing in the atmosphere of the forest.” In the US it is also known as Forest Bathing.
Nature and Forest Therapy is a data-based practice of entering into an intimate connection and restorative relationship with the natural world. The Guide opens the sensory doors to the forest and through the many mirrors of nature you experience the therapeutic effects nature has to offer us. Therapy walks are usually 1 ½-2 hours long. Typically there are 6-12 people on a walk. Private walks can also be scheduled. These are slow, gentle walks on level ground for ¼ a mile or less. For most people it is not physically strenuous. You will notice throughout the walk a calming, relaxing and pleasant sensory experience.
Therapy walks are not hiking or physical exercise. It’s not mindfulness training or meditation. I’m not a naturalist so I don’t teach people about plants, animals and the environment. It’s not just a walk in the woods. What’s different is I offer a gateway to experience the natural world in a way few people have. I can visibly see people become more calm and relaxed. They become quieter and more reflective. They often express profound realizations about themselves and nature. Connecting with nature in this way helps to increase focus and attention.There are many benefits for mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
You can read more about the science and research behind this practice under the Research tab.
How Nature and Forest Promotes Cultural Repair
Cultural repair is a vital component of Nature and Forest Therapy. Richard Louve introduced the term nature-deficit disorder (NDD) in his 2011 book, “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.”
Detached from the natural world people are increasingly unhealthy. There is a prevalence of lifestyle conditions and diseases (high stress and anxiety, poor nutrition, overweight, lack of physical activity and exercise, smoking, addictions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol). The environment is also increasingly unhealthy. We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and it’s
accelerating at a faster rate than climate scientists could predict.
Cultural repair happens when people connect to nature and experience the therapeutic benefits of being in nature. This creates awareness and appreciation of the natural world. With this comes a desire to care for the environment, to live in a more healthy way and contribute to cultural change.
Nature and Forest Therapy Programs
Nature and Forest Therapy programs include Everyday Nature Prescriptions and Forest Walks. I am also available for speaking engagements.
My goal is to educate people on the benefits of Nature and Forest Therapy and give them opportunities to experience those benefits first hand. You can find my programs on my Programs page.