Jennifer Falbo-Negron, LCPC/LMHC, ERYT-500, SEP
ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guide
Forest therapy, also known as forest bathing, is a not a new invention. We have evolved with nature for millennia and have a reciprocal relationship with all nature beings. This close relationship has helped us heal in many ways when in nature as well as heal the planet in return. By immersing ourselves in nature, even for short periods of time, we can still reap the benefits of this ancient practice.
In current times, the practice of forest bathing has roots in Japan where it is called Shinrin Yoku. It was in response to the technological boom of the 1980s in which people were moving into urban areas for work. Because of this, the Japanese government noticed increases in overall illness, autoimmune diseases, and cancers. They experimented with weekend trips out to the rural provinces and used medical measurements, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and blood samples, to see if nature had a healing effect--and it certainly did!
Here are some ways that forest therapy walks can lead to better health outcomes:
• decreased blood pressure and heart
• reduced cortisol levels, which helps with heart disease, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress
disorder, and weight problems
• improved immune system function with released phytoncides from trees and other plants, which
increase Natural Killer (NK) cell activity
• improved parasympathetic nervous system activity leading to better digestion, restfulness, and sleep
• reduced sympathetic nervous system activity to tone down always being "ON"
• enhanced sense of well-being
• enriched engagement with nature
• improved attention and focus
• reduced anger and hostility
Inspired from Shinrin-Yoku, the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) developed their unique method of forest bathing. The ANFT model has a trauma-informed process of slowing down, dropping into the senses, creating a timeless quality of play and exploration, and fostering a deeper relationship with nature. This is not merely a walk in the park. It is a healing experience of the forest being the therapist and the guide opening the door with invitations you can choose to do in whatever manner feels right to you. We also have sharing circles where silence is an option as well.
Jennifer trained with ANFT over a 6-month period with a 4-day immersion and wilderness first aid course by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). She is available to offer walks that last between 2-3 hours. Walks can be experienced on a trail in a wooded area, prairie, near a body of water, local park, observatory, garden, in your home by a window or plant, your backyard, or even in a parking lot. We travel a short distance, about a 1/2 mile, so that we can immerse ourselves with the nature beings around us. The walk officially concludes with tea time and a final sharing.
To book a forest therapy walk for your group or inquire about individual, couple's, or family walks, contact Jennifer via a website message or phone call. Walks will be offered in various areas around the suburbs during the different seasons and posted on our Facebook page and added to our classes/workshops page. Here is a sampling of previous forest therapy walks below.
Prior Forest Therapy Walks
3/7/2022 Virtual Walk (participants joined wherever they were)
4/3/2022 James Pate Philip State Park, Bartlett, IL
5/1/2022 Johnson's Mound Forest Preserve, Elburn, IL
5/14/2022 (just South of/on IL Rt 31) by Jon J Duerr Forest Preserve, South Elgin, IL
7/30/2023 Sacred Heart Grotto, Geneva, IL $45 (combined with a Sound Healing)
11/11/2023 Fabyan East Forest Preserve, Geneva, IL $45 (combined with a Drum Circle)
Current Forest Therapy Walks
No group walks scheduled yet. Looking forward to 2024 walks!
Also, as a part of counseling sessions for stress reduction or workshops
• Family pricing is negotiable for parents and kids, which may have a 1-hour experience
instead of the traditional longer length of time.
As you consider forest therapy, bring an open mind, body, and heart to this experience.
Nature welcomes you.