Nature and Forest Therapy Guiding: Cultivating Connection to Self, Others and Nature

Ms Louise Kiddell1
1Barefoot Wellbeing


There is growing international interest in the health benefits of connecting with nature. The practice of Nature and Forest Therapy, also referred to as Forest Bathing, is spreading around the world as guides are trained by international organisations.

Deep listening and living intimately connected with the land has been an integral way of being for Indigenous people around the globe for thousands of years. Our modern industrial growth society is the first human culture to have forgotten our interconnection with and dependence on the living earth, and we are suffering for it. The climate is in a state of emergency, and so are we. Stress, anxiety, burn out, depression, insomnia, infertility and suicide are worryingly common. Ecogrief and ecoanxiety are new terms increasingly being used by psychologists, as people struggle with the reality of an uncertain climate future.

In response to the modern health crises driven by stress and overwork, the Japanese invested heavily in developing the practice of Shinrin yoku (Forest Bathing) in the 1980s. It is now beginning to spread and gain popularity around the world.

Contrary to popular belief, Forest Bathing does not involve any kind of outdoor bath or shower. It is an immersive, sensory experience in nature. Participants are guided through a series of gentle “invitations” to connect with the natural world in deeper and more meaningful ways than they might be used to. Experiences can range from gentle and relaxing to deeply meaningful and emotive. Forest Therapy guides are trained to witness and support people through their experiences and facilitate the sharing of experience with the group. Nature and Forest Therapy guides are often trained counsellors, psychologists, occupational therapists, yoga and meditation teachers and other healing professionals who share the view that nature is healing for body, mind and spirit.


Biography to come

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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