What is Forest Therapy?
The practice of forest therapy here in North America is shaped in large part by the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy (ANFT). Inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, the founders of the ANFT designed Forest Therapy as a 3-hour experience where people could begin to not only achieve the health benefits associated with forest bathing, but also work on their relationships with themselves, each other, and the More-Than- Human World.
Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. The practice emerged in Japan in the 1980s in an effort to offer a treatment for tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests. The Japanese quickly embraced this form of ecotherapy and in the 1990s, researchers began studying the physiological benefits of forest bathing, providing the science to support what we innately know: that time spent immersed in nature is good for us.