“Everything in nature invites us constantly
to be what we are.”
― Gretel Ehrlich
Forest therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Forest bathing was established in Japan in the 1980s. Today, people there have access to more than 60 official forest bathing trails.They are encouraged to take long, slow walks in the woods to support their health, wellness, and happiness.
As a relational practice, forest therapy builds on the foundation of Shinrin-yoku as it aims to promote:
• Improved human health and wellness. Being able to step out of busy routines and into the forest allows people to rest and restore themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.
• A greater sense of connectedness. During a forest therapy walk, participants reconnect with the power of their bodies and their senses. They begin to rediscover fundamental ways we humans relate to the world and are able to make sense of it. They begin to remember the nature of being in relationship and being connected—to self, to others, and to all living things.
• Deeper feelings of compassion. People who practice forest therapy develop a sense of kinship with, tenderness toward, and responsibility for wild things and wild spaces. They are reminded that we are a part of nature, not apart from it. They're inspired to be more compassionate and less self-centered—to more deeply value the need to protect the health of people and the planet. In the words of Jane Goodall, "Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall all be saved.”
The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) was founded in the United States in 2012 by M. Amos Clifford. ANFT serves as a leading organization for training and certifying guides to deliver forest therapy services. With more than 800 trained guides, 15 trainers and 30 mentors in over 55 countries, ANFT envisions mobilizing the world’s largest referral network to medical and healthcare systems along with alternative and complementary healing modalities.