Becoming a Certified Forest Therapy Guide: 5 Programs to Consider

Do you want to become a certified forest therapy guide? We review five of the more popular forest bathing certification programs that offer both remote and onsite immersive training.

As forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, continues to appeal to an ever-broader spectrum of health professionals and individuals worldwide, the need for guide certification continues to increase.

If traveling to Japan, the birthplace of shinrin-yoku is a bit of a leap for you, programs are available online or in various parts of North America and other continents worldwide. Both the cost and time requirements vary greatly, but with a bit of research, you should be able to find a program that will work for you.

5 Forest Therapy Training Programs Where You Can Earn a Certificate

We’ve listed 5 popular programs and click the link in the table below to jump to the related section of this article where you can learn what is included in each program.

#AssociationCertification TypeLocationLengthCost
1Association of Nature Forest Therapy Certified Forest Therapy GuideOnline +
Various Locations for Immersions
6 Months +
4 Days Onsite
$2,995 +
$ 495
2Forest Therapy HubForest Therapy Practitioner TrainingOnline5 Day Immersion +
6 Months Mentored Practice
2,460 €
3The Mindful Tourist TMT Shinrin Yoku
Forest Bathing Instructor, Level 2
Nara, Japan4 Days$2,499
4Kripalu Center for Yoga & HealthMindful Outdoor Guide Certification, Level 1Online2 Months$1,074
5Wildcraft Forest SchoolYasei Shinrin Yoku (Forest Therapy) Practitioner CertificationBritish Columbia, Canada5 Day1,800 CAD
Note: Each training facility may offer more than one certification option. The course length and costs above are examples of courses offered and may vary based on specific course offerings chosen or at the discretion of the association.

1. Association of Nature Forest Therapy

The Association of Nature Forest Therapy (ANFT) has trained hundreds of guides on six continents, making it the largest organization of its kind. ANFT was founded by M. Amos Clifford in 2012, held its first forest therapy training in California in 2014, and has since conducted training in more countries than any other similar organization.

Clifford combined elements of shinrin-yoku with 40 years of personal experience in many areas of wilderness guiding, meditation, and education. The framework originated by ANFT has been used by many organizations as a foundation for their own training programs.

Now based out of Prescott, Arizona, ANFT’s core training lasts 6 months. Courses are offered year-round online for $2995 per six-month course. A Wilderness First Aid course is also required for certification at an additional $100-300.

Initial forest bathing certification is good for two years, or until a four-day immersion experience has been completed. The immersion requirement costs $495. After the student’s immersion experience, certification becomes permanent.

ANFT’s forest therapist course uses videos, interactive online sessions, experiential assignments, and many sources for extended learning with experienced guides and groups. The course teaches an effective sequence of interactions and experiences to maximize the benefits of forest bathing for every participant.

people practicing Shinrin-Yoku in the forest

2. Forest Therapy Hub

Though home-based in the U.S., the Forest Therapy Hub is an international group of professional forest therapists that seeks to inform and train career forest guides. Their goal is to integrate nature into health and wellbeing practices around the world.

The Forest Therapy Hub offers both Forest Bathing Guide Training and Forest Therapy Practioner Training. The courses are offered in two parts: an immersive training for 5 consecutive days followed by a mentored practice for the next 24 weeks. Participants can choose from online-only or a blend of online and onsite training at several locations.

The FTH method is ideal for those in health care or earth-awareness professions. The blended training method can better prepare participants to add new dimensions to their profession and expand health care options. Forest bathing certification can be a huge plus for those who desire to bring individuals and nature together for a unique wellness experience.

The course blends online, interactive programs to accommodate both individuals and groups. Prices start at $2,000 (EUR 1,760) for forest bathing guide training and $3,000 (EUR 2,460 for forest therapy certification. Additional costs are required for those able to take some classes in person.

3. The Mindful Tourist

For those who would like to go to Japan for personal shinrin-yoku training, The Mindful Tourist offers a 4-day/3-night course in Nara, Japan. Two levels of training are offered to a maximum of 10 students per class.

The four-day course is almost completely immersive. There will be some instruction and note-taking. Electronic devices are discouraged. Students will be required to give a presentation comparing the forest setting of their own country with what they experience during the course.

The course costs USD 2,499 plus an 8% Japanese consumption tax. Individuals who start their own forest bathing business may advertise on The Mindful Tourist website.

Deer in the Nara Prefecture, the capital of Japan
The Mindful Tourist Japan training program begins in the Nara Prefecture, which is famous for its Deer Park.

4. Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

Kripalu is an online site for training in meditation, yoga, and forest bathing techniques. The site is based in Massachusetts in the U.S. and has offered yoga and mindfulness-based coursed for almost 50 years.

Kripalu offers two levels of training in their School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership program. The first level includes a more meditative, 75-hour course, including experience in forest bathing and mindfulness. The second level brings in some basic survival knowledge, such as how to build a shelter, start a fire, and forage for food.

Level 1 Mindful Outdoor Guide Certification currently costs USD 1,074. The course takes about two months to complete. A High School Diploma or equivalent is required. The course can also be rigorous at times, so students should be able to be physically active for an extended period of time.

5. Wildcraft Forest School

For the American version of forest bathing, the Wildcraft Forest School offers training in Yasei Shinrin-Yoku, or “wild forest bathing.” This Canadian-based organization brings the history and traditions of America’s native peoples into meditative forest interactions.

Certification requires participation in a 5-day camp at one of the organization’s British Columbian locations and online learning. The cost is 1,800 Canadian dollars. Training includes an understanding of different wilderness therapy options, Nutri-ecopsychology, and native wilderness survival techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions

forest guide teaching students

What Steps Do I Need To Take To Become A Certified Forest Therapist?

By participating in programs lasting from a few days to a few weeks, dedicated guides are prepared to introduce the healing power of nature to others. Here are the 5 steps to get started on your path to choosing the right training program.

  1. Explore the various versions of forest bathing to decide which works best for you
    • Do you want to focus your training on being a guide or a therapist?
    • Is this supplemental training for an existing therapy practice?
    • Consider your existing clients (or ideal client) and ask what type of activity would benefit them the most.
  2. Check out the websites of available training to determine locations and length of courses.
  3. Budget is also a factor, so check out what different courses cost.
  4. Look for any educational or other course prerequisites
  5. Schedule the necessary time so you can concentrate solely on training
  6. Create a business strategy if you plan to depend on forest therapy as your career choice.

What Prerequisites May Be Required To Take A Forest Therapist Class?

Some courses require at least a high school or equivalent education. Others require a certain level of physical fitness. For some higher-level courses, foundational study and experience may be required.

The Forest Therapy Hub certification programs require Wilderness and Mental Health First Aid Training during the mentored practice portion of the coursework.

If you’re considering traveling to Japan, you’ll want to take some time to explore forested sites in your locality before you go, as it will be part of your required presentation at the end of the course.

Is Certification Needed For A Job As A Forest Guide?

From all I’ve read, the answer is a resounding yes. There’s a huge difference between going for a walk in the woods and participating in a forest therapy session. Immersion and study broaden the guide’s experiences and instructs them in how to bring others into the full benefits of healthful forest bathing.

Certification is also paramount for anyone hoping to make it their career course. The ongoing resources available to certified guides cannot be overemphasized. Medical facilities will generally not take an uncertified guide seriously. And individuals looking for a guide will often be savvy enough to look for evidence of certification.

Are There Any Internship Programs Available For Forest Therapy?

The Mindful Tourist does advertise internship programs at some of its locations in Japan. Most online sites do not offer internships, but some local practitioners may so check with forest bathing guides in your area.

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