Dr Qing Li
Forest Therapy is a guided relaxing immersion in forest like surroundings. It is also known as Shinrin-Yoku 森林浴 or Forest Bathing. Unlike a bush walk or a hike, the aim is to slow down your movement, so you may notice what you are experiencing. You tune into your senses, follow your curiosity and connect to the present moment. By relating to nature, you may restore awareness of yourself, others and the wild world. Your guide supports you, by describing physical, sensory or creative activities. They open the door for you, so the forest can be the therapist.
Forest Therapy is growing as a research based, Public Health practice for reducing stress related illnesses and enhancing well being.
Forest Therapy or Shinrin-Yoku 森林浴 comes from Japan and translates as ‘forest immersion’.
Japanese people have an ancient connection with nature through their indigenous religion, Shinto. But in the early 1980's modern life was taking its toll on mental and physical health. Their fast paced, urban based, technology focussed lifestyles were unsustainable. The Japanese Government recognised this. They encouraged people to return to the forest for their health and to protect the forests. Since then research has confirmed the physiological and psychological benefits of Forest Therapy.
We all know that being in nature can make us feel rejuvenated & the research confirms it. Being in nature supports our physiological and psychological health.
1. The immune systems of plants and trees support our immune systems.
In nature we immerse in the healing properties of phytoncides. Phytoncides are aerosols emitted by trees and plants. They protect them from attack by insects, animals and germs. They protect us also. They increase the number and activity of white blood cells, called Natural Killer or NK Cells. These white blood cells increase in number and activity, to attack tumours and germs in our own bodies. The properties of phytoncides are:
2. Having a mindful connection with nature, develops a sense of belonging and has direct benefits for our mental health. Ways to mindfully connect with nature include:
Source: International Handbook of Forest Therapy (edited by Kotte, Lin, Shin and Michalsen 2019).
A Certified Forest Therapy Guide FTG provides a relaxing, refreshing & safe experience. A guide invites you into a space for quiet listening, reflection and inquiry. Feedback suggests that slowing down without a guide, can be a very challenging experience. The guide is an experienced professional, qualified with specialist skills, knowledge and competencies.
An INFTA Certified Forest Therapy Guide follows the standard set by the International Core Curriculum for Forest Therapy, as specified by the International Nature & Forest Therapy Alliance INFTA.
Creative Arts Therapy is an experiential psychotherapeutic approach. It uses a range of creative modalities (drawing, writing, sculpting and movement) to help explore feelings that may be hard to put into words. Creative Arts Therapists help clients to reduce anxiety, improve self-awareness and find new pathways to healing. It is holistic – attending to emotional, cognitive, physical and spiritual well-being.
Creative Arts Therapy uses the creative process of making art as a safe way to represent your inner experiences, develop awareness and support personal change. Creativity harnesses the imagination and a sense of play. This can help to open up possibilities in a safe supported therapeutic space.
Nature based Creative Arts Therapy brings Creative Arts Therapy practices to the outdoors. It is a creative response, using natural resources to create ephemeral works. Here nature is integral to the process and acts as co-therapist.
Creative Arts Therapy methods may by used on a guided mindful wander in the more than human world. As we wander, we tune into our senses, allowing nature to connect with us creatively. We may pause to create or move creatively.
Forest Therapy may include Creative Arts Therapy activities within the recommended sequence of activities.
When combining Creative Arts Therapy & Forest Therapy, nature works with us as co-therapist.
Nature Mentoring is an experiential & educational alternative to therapy. Spending time in nature, while mindfully engaging through our senses, builds a meaningful relationship with our natural surroundings, develops a sense of belonging and has direct benefits to our physical and mental health. Nature Mentoring can be a powerful way to deepen the positive effects of psychotherapy. As Nature Mentoring, does not follow the standard activities set by the International Core Curriculum for Forest Therapy, it is more spontaneous & flexible. This is offered through our NDIS Services.
Flow foREST Therapy acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation & the traditional custodians of the lands where we live, learn & work.