Wilderness Therapy Essentials For Healers of Mind, Body & Spirit
Wilderness therapy works, and people are starting to realize it!
Have you ever noticed how differently you feel after a long hike in the woods?
Every year millions of people flock from their busy lives in the city to spend time hiking, cooking & relaxing in nature.
Did you know that investing just a few quiet minutes outside has a dramatic and measurable effect on happiness, mental health & intelligence?
You might have noticed that our world isn’t getting any simpler. Most people don’t feel connected with nature anymore.
Yet somewhere inside many feel a sense of longing for simpler times when we were free to wander and roam like nomads on the land.
Society is rapidly becoming more and more entrenched with technology, television, video games and fast-paced lifestyles that have serious consequences for our mental well-being.
Yet many people are now turning back to nature for therapeutic benefits in modern life.
It’s becoming increasingly common to seek out more natural methods for relieving stress, finding peace and mental health.
Are you passionate about helping people? Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you also love spending time in nature?
That’s exactly what wilderness therapy is all about, and it’s the way of the future!
Why Do Wilderness Therapy Programs Work?
There are a few reasons why wilderness therapy has such tremendous benefits for people in the modern world.
The first is simply that people are so stressed out.
There was once a time when humans only had to work a few hours every day in order to abundantly provide for all their needs.
Today most families are working two jobs and barely scraping by.
We have to worry about money, jobs, careers, kids, maintaining relationships, cars, houses, phones, all these different things.
That’s a lot of stuff to think about! And not enough time to relax and let go.
This is why getting into nature is one of the most therapeutic things you can do for people who are stressed out.
It creates space to let go of worries and come completely to the moment.
As your mind becomes quiet, it creates space for creativity, insight and self discovery.
You start to remember old dreams & passions that got buried under paperwork many years ago.
Being in the wilderness is mindfulness at it’s best.
But it’s not just about reducing stress.
Having outdoor experiences also stimulates your brain into greater creative activity through the senses.
For thousands of years, artists, philosophers, scientists, spiritual leaders & doctors have gone into nature for inspiration.
Sights, sounds, colors, feelings, tastes, smells & the experience of epic beauty are like nutrients for the human mind.
The amazing thing is that most people growing up in modern cities have never truly taken the time to look for the beauty in nature.
It’s not hard to see why gangs, crime & poverty are so common in big cities, when few have ever truly appreciated the inherent value of our world.
I remember the first time I practiced consciously opening my own senses in nature… I was amazed by how many birds, trees, & animals were living all around me.
It jolted me out of my adolescent state of mind, that quite frankly was heading down a very unhealthy path in life… and got me deeply in touch with my sense of true purpose in life.
I can honestly say that my relationship with nature has been one of the deepest and most fulfilling sources of personal growth and inspiration.
And it’s not just me.
I’ve met countless amazing human beings whose life path was permanently altered by a peak experience of deep consciousness in the natural world.
All of histories creative geniuses can’t be wrong!
Training For Deep Wilderness Experiences
So are you inspired and excited to guide others with deep wilderness experiences? Great!
What’s the next step? How do you get started? What should you focus on? And what should you do to reach your goal?
These are very important questions because the choices you make at this early stage can dramatically effect what your life looks down the road!
It’s important to realize that training to help others starts with helping yourself first.
If YOU aren’t currently living in a healthy mental & emotional state, then you won’t be able to help others.
If YOU don’t have your own innate naturalist intelligence activated, then you won’t be able to guide others into deep connection with the wild.
There is a very direct relationship between how far you’ve gone on your own personal journey, and the confident ability to get positive results for others.
So here’s a basic roadmap to follow.
We’ll start with the most basic & essential prerequisites, and move on to more advanced mentoring & leadership strategies.
1. Start With Your Own Nature Routines
How much experience do you have being in nature? Do you have daily routines for finding peace within yourself?
Are you comfortable being in the woods? Do you know what’s safe to eat? Do you have meaningful relationships with the birds, plants, trees & animals?
These are basic human skills that your ancestors used to survive and thrive for thousands of years in harsh conditions. This is what your brain was designed for!
And this is our starting point…
Go outside and start connecting with nature for YOU. It’s amazing the effect that 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes per day sitting quietly in nature will have on your experience of life.
You will feel the difference immediately.
2. Awaken Your Sensory Awareness
Part of the reason why nature has transformational effects on the human mind is because nature is rich with sensory stimulation.
Sensory stimulation = brain stimulation.
When you engage your senses, your mind becomes quiet and you begin to access a “flow” state of peak creativity & intelligence.
Nature will automatically have this effect on your brain just by being outside, but you can also multiply the effects of sensory awareness by focusing consciously on being aware.
Open your sensory awareness and you will become much more capable of helping others do the same.
3. Cultivate Your Natural Passions & Curiosity
Part of the reason why wilderness therapy works so well is that nature has a way of profoundly engaging human passion & curiosity.
Nature is filled with mysteries and incredible things to discover.
The human tendency to get curious about the lives of birds, plants, trees, animals, water cycles & weather is a genetic adaptation for survival.
The side benefit is that whenever you get curious and excited about natural mysteries, it floods your nervous system with positive emotion chemicals.
Over time your capacity for feeling deep emotions like passion, curiosity, awe & reverence becomes multiplied, cleansing the mind & soul.
4. Get to know yourself deeply
Investing quiet time exploring nature also provides ample time for deep self reflection.
As your mind becomes quiet, you’ll more often start to experience moments of timelessness and deeper consciousness.
These are moments when you are closer to your true self. You’re not bogged down by thoughts and expectations from the pressurized world of work & relationships.
This is one of your greatest opportunities to ask the deeper questions in life, and get authentic answers that come from inside you.
What is my purpose? What am I good at? What are my gifts? Who do I want to serve in this life? How do I want to serve in this life?
Take time to lose yourself in nature and ask these questions. They will guide you to the answers you seek.
5. Develop Your Mentoring & Facilitation Skills
If you stick with those previous routines long enough, eventually you’ll hit a point where you start to feel very healthy inside.
It doesn’t mean all your problems are solved, and it doesn’t mean you will still struggle sometimes, but on some level you feel a completeness, and a readiness to share.
You feel happy, content, and at peace inside.
Now it’s time to share what you’ve learned with others. Let’s turn on the juice and start consciously developing strong mentoring & facilitation skills.
The good news is that these skills come already built in to the human blueprint… and the previous four routines have now activated that blueprint!
Practice skills like deep listening, the art of questioning & storytelling, observing patterns in human relationships, and compassion.
Here's a video I created that talks about one of the most important mentoring skills...
6. Become An Apprentice
Another step that I think is very helpful at this stage is to spend time modelling and working alongside mentors who you admire.
Much of your own personal mentoring & facilitation style will come from modelling other mentors whose approach you resonate with.
Spend time in dialogue with other mentors sharing ideas & strategies.
This is one of the main reasons I created nature-mentor.com to share online content and mentoring opportunities with the world.
I’ve been developing my own approach to mentoring for over ten years, and one of the big challenges when I was first getting started is that very few people can actually do the kind of mentoring that I so desperately wanted to share with the world.
Now I’m able to speed up the learned curve for upcoming nature based coaches, mentors, teachers, instructors & therapists by working closely with them over a long period of time.
If this is something that interests you I’d love to connect with you and hear your story - Send me an email
7. Learn By Doing
As soon as you feel ready… I do strongly encourage you to start offering small classes, lessons, workshops, etc. Start a nature club and get people outside. Offer introductory classes that share what you love about nature and get people into their senses. Push your comfort zone and get some new experiences.
Most people wait too long before getting started because they don’t feel ready, or their expectations are too big.
It’s important to realize that you always have to start small before you go big.
Just focus on getting experience and building your inner circle. This will be a critical support system for when you scale up and do something bigger.
Now let’s talk about what that big future might involve…
Examples of Wilderness Therapy Jobs
So what does the future look like for you?
Let’s say you follow all the steps I just laid out.
You explore nature, awaken your senses, cultivate your passions & peak emotional states, connect with your vision, and start practicing your facilitation & leadership skills in small ways.
You’re ready for something bigger. So what can you do next?
It’s important to realize that wilderness therapy is not exactly a formalized or standardized process.
In most cases the journey requires more than simply getting a university degree and applying for a job somewhere.
This is still a brand new field, and there’s no one correct way to do it. I can however assure you that it’s totally possible!
If your desire is to create a career helping people in nature, then I would definitely encourage you to go for it.
There are others already doing it, and there’s tons of opportunity to grow.
It’s also helpful to have in mind some possible scenarios, so we’ll finish off by looking at a few business models that I’ve seen successful:
1. Start A Wilderness School / Nature Connection School
The idea of a wilderness school is a great model for anyone who loves teaching & mentoring nature skills in a community learning environment.
On the surface, a wilderness school might seem like it’s just about getting outside and having fun… but on a deeper level most programs are also deeply committed to honoring the personal transformation that happens for their students.
They tend to be based around school year and summer camp programs for kids, plus weekend skills workshops & apprenticeships for adults. There is a huge amount of room for creativity here.
2. Take Your Yoga/Qigong Practice Outside
Yoga and nature go very well together. This is a way to take the mainstream practice of yoga and add a wild spin by bringing in sensory awareness exercises and nature based mindfulness routines.
The wilderness aspect of your Yoga programs would be a great way to make your classes stand out, and offer an extra therapeutic benefit to your students.
3. Integrate Nature Routines With Your Individual Coaching
Coaching is now a multi billion dollar industry. That’s pretty incredible.
It means there are literally millions of people in our world who are stressed out, frustrated, spinning their wheels and not getting what they want out of life.
If you enjoy working directly with people to help them overcome blocks & achieve their goals & success in life, then you can use nature routines as the method for transformation in a coaching practice.
This is a great path for people who love helping one-on-one.
4. Personal Growth Retreats & Seminars
Many people are so busy that they can’t take time off to focus on personal growth… But the opportunity to getaway and rejuvenate for a weekend is absolutely irresistible.
If you like working with groups then you can start workshops and weekend retreats to give them the best vacation ever.
5. Facilitating Rites of Passage
Vision quests, walkabouts, coming of age ceremonies… These are all nature based methods that build upon very old human traditions for helping young people (and adults who are still searching) to find their purpose in life.
It’s a very profound and rewarding way to help others connect with nature and themselves on a deep level.
6. Forest Kindergarten
If working with young children is your passion, then a forest kindergarten might be a great way for you to combine your love of kids with being outside.
When I was 15 years old I had an experience of sudden lucid clarity while hiking in the woods. Since then I’ve been passionately seeking tools for helping modern humans develop razor sharp natural instincts. I’m the author of multiple courses & ebooks about bird language, naturalist training, observation skills & outdoor mindfulness. My goal is to share these life changing skills with YOU! Continue reading