Celebration and Friendship
Presentation and Discussion

Contrasting Emergent Theories in the Field of Forest Therapy

Ben Page, Director of Training, ANFT
Director of Training, Certified Forest Therapy Guide
Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs

Forest Therapy is rapidly entering mainstream society as a methodology for health and wellbeing from various sources around the world. But what is it exactly? And how does it work? I find that there are two dominant schools of thought in the field that I would call ‘Nature Health Education and Recreation’ and ‘Eco-Depth Psychology.’ Nature Health Education and Recreation has descended in large part from the contributions of the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku and focuses on the physiological health impacts of nature connection. The Eco-Depth Psychology approach has descended in large part from the teachings of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and focuses more on the psychological process of individuation through contact with the collective unconscious. In this presentation, I will compare and contrast these two schools of thought in an effort to demonstrate how each is complementary to the other and how each offers uniquely credible benefits in the realms of individual human health, ecological health and cultural repair.

Ben ‘Crow’ Page is the Director of Training for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, as well as a certified forest therapy guide, council carrier and alternative educator. He is the founder of Shinrin Yoku LA, an organization dedicated to transformative nature therapy and contemplative practice in partnership with the more than human world. Since his practice began, Ben has been featured in such media as Women’s Health, USA TODAY, Good Morning America, The Washington Post, ATTN, The Wall Street Journal and WebMD. Ben is also a co-founder of The Open School, Southern California’s only free democratic school. He holds a B.A. in religious studies from Carleton College and an M.A. in human development and social change from Pacific Oaks College.

Ben’s graduate thesis, “An exploration in Living Council,” sought to answer the question of how deep listening to all beings and throughout time and space can work to integrate deeper levels of connection to ourselves and the world around us. Jack Zimmerman, the co-author of ‘The Way of Council’ was Ben’s mentor and thesis chair on this project.