A six-month course delivered online through a mixture of group and one-to-one tutorials.

This course introduces the basic skills and knowledge to equip you to design and facilitate therapeutic outdoor experiences.

Based on working both with groups or one-to-one, the course explores a variety of environments and professional contexts. It offers theoretical frameworks supported by extensive research and a pragmatic approach to programme design and facilitation.

By the end of the course you will:

  • have an overview of the various different nature-based therapeutic approaches currently being offered internationally;
  • understand some of the foundational theories underpinning this type of work;
  • experience a selection of therapeutic outdoor practices and activities;
  • explore appropriate facilitation styles and techniques;
  • make connections between personal, social and ecological issues and their roles in creating pathologies;
  • gain insights into complex relationship dynamics and how they are influenced by being outdoors;
  • explore how to select conducive natural spaces to work in;
  • understand how to create ‘safe space’ and boundaries outdoors;
  • develop your own therapeutic contract for working outdoors;
  • find strategies and techniques for self-care and supervision;
  • review examples and case studies of therapeutic outdoor programmes;
  • learn how to design your own programmes;
  • explore issues around the confluence of nature, culture and indigene;
  • develop your understanding of ethics and professionalism in nature-based practice;
  • examine outdoor risk and how to manage it;
  • gain an overview of the issues surrounding liability and insurance;
  • find where to access resources and networks;
  • work out your next steps towards professional practice, or towards further enriching your existing practice.

The course has been developed through over 20 years of international research, development, post-graduate teaching and hands-on professional practice. This includes the design and delivery of a government funded UK-based programme which offered therapeutic experiences of nature by prescription.

For most people who work and play outdoors, it is obvious that time spent in nature is therapeutic. Despite this, the idea that time outdoors might be offered as part of formal healthcare has struggled to take hold.

However, during the last five years the engagement of mainstream healthcare with outdoor approaches to therapy have exploded. In the UK for example, several programmes have been piloted to provide outdoors experiences by prescription. These have been extremely successful, leading to results that outperform conventional therapies and pharmacology in both health outcomes and cost efficiency. They are now being ‘rolled-out’ to whole regions.

But providing this kind of service is not easy. This is due mainly to the lack of people who can supply safe, professional and effective therapeutic experiences of nature.

The positive health economics and proven efficacy of nature-based approaches to mental and physical health challenges means that without doubt demand for practitioners will continue to increase. Given the scale of mental health and wellbeing issues globally, there is going to be an increased demand for professionals who can provide safe and effective nature-based therapies.

This course aims to help provide those professionals.

This course starts from the position that you cannot have healthy people on a sick planet. Ensuring our own health and that of the planet’s ecosystems are the same task.

This is different to many other approaches to outdoor therapy currently being offered, which tend to focus only on the benefits to humans of spending time outdoors.

Read a brief introduction to Outdoor Therapeutic Practice >>

The course runs over six months. It starts and finishes with a one-to-one tutorial. In-between these are six, 90 minute group webinars with a maximum of 10 people, plus an additional floating one-to-one tutorial.

In total the course provides 12 hours of contact time plus self-guided study of approximately 30 hours.

If you have access to professional practice opportunities, these can be integrated into your learning process. If you are yet to start practicing, then advice about gaining experience is offered.

All group webinars are recorded so you can listen again or catch-up if you missed one. One-to-one sessions can be recorded on request.

You do not need to be a psychotherapist or counsellor to attend this course. It is for anyone interested in working with the therapeutic potential of nature - from urban parks to designated wilderness. 

This includes healthcare practitioners, outdoor leaders, social workers, youth workers, rangers, conservationists and educators - as well as those interested in commissioning, or referring into, therapeutic nature programmes.

It is recommended that you bring around five years experience in some related form of professional practice - working with groups or one-to-one, indoors or out. However, each application is considered individually, so please do ask if you’re not sure.

Please note: 

  • this course is for those seeking to work therapeutically in nature and is not intended as a personal therapeutic intervention. 
  • it is likely that a basic level of outdoor leadership training will be required to work ethically and professionally outdoors, depending on the type of environment you want to work in. Please be aware that this course does not qualify you as a professional outdoor leader, which usually requires specialist training and assessment in your home nation.

The course is delivered entirely online so you will need a computer with reliable broadband internet access. You will also need Google and Zoom accounts.

NZ$2495.00

Includes: 9 hours of contact time on a maximum 1:10 ratio, 3 hours of contact time on a 1:1 ratio, access to a private online library of over 500 PDF downloads, a reading guide and other learning resources, a CPD certificate and email support.

Excludes: All information technology and equipment, internet costs and any hard-copy, full-text books that are referenced during the course.

To make sure the course is right for you, enrolment is by application. If you would like to have a chat about the course before applying please do get in touch.

Start Date:6th January 2021
Duration:6 months
Contact time:12 hours
Approx. reading time:36 hours
Group size:10
Location:Online via Zoom and Google Drive
Certification:A Continuing Professional Development Certificate for your final number of hours can be issue upon course completion.
Price:NZ$2495.00

Janine Finlay

Dave’s course was the beginning of my journey with this incredible work.

I learned a lot about myself, and this has ultimately meant I can work with other people with a much deeper understanding of change processes. I loved that the course was self governed – for me this meant I could go on my own exploration, and pull on the threads that interested me.

Dave is very attentive and flexible toward personal needs, it is less ‘teacher-student’ focused and more collaborative and supportive, which I feel is exactly what is needed in this world.

I would do the course again and again.

Organisation:Fin Films Ltd UK & The Good Nature Project

Keith Hackwood

I heartily recommend David’s work to anyone wishing to deepen their understanding and experience within the broad purview of ecotherapy. The bespoke nature and pacing of the work, together with David’s extensive experience, strong companionship and challenge gives a blend of embodied practice with imagination and study, making for a profound synthesis and optimal conditions for deep change.

For me it was a tremendous vessel in which to simmer and steep, one that promoted the risky business of leaping, that served encountering the nobly camouflaged layers of self and led me to “be able to stand in the wreckage of what used to be (my) certainty” and have that be a flourishing of wild and previously unseen truths.

I recommend David, the man and his work, to anyone with heart enough to commit and head enough to set the compass.

Organisation:Synthesis Wales

Joanna Kitto

I really enjoyed this course which I did over a year.

David is very knowledgeable and experienced and provided me with access to a wide variety of resources which we would then discuss within the sessions. Because they were individual sessions, David was able to tailor them to my interests and what I wanted to explore.

This is a very flexible course and very worthwhile.

Organisation:Living Psychology

Janani Eswar

David has a brilliant way of guiding you on exactly the paths you want to traverse. He was able to help me follow my questions to new and interesting resources to learn from.

I work to connect children to nature in India and his course has helped me build language and structure around my work in order to better communicate with others around me.

I have also greatly benefited from his library. The resources available there would be very hard for me to find elsewhere.

Organisation:GRIN (Growing in Nature)

Danielle Levy

I am pleased that I decided to do this course with David. I got a lot out of the experience. I appreciated the open and flexible style of our sessions, and enjoyed the diversity of our valuable discussions.

David made me feel seen, heard, and supported throughout the journey. He is a true wealth of knowledge – and customised the course to meet my personal interests, by providing plenty of useful study resources.

Sandra Cunningham

I have worked with Dave since 2014, firstly through the online Nature Psychology course and more recently by engaging with him as my coach. He has a richness of knowledge, wisdom and experience that I feel so lucky to be able to access – and my only wish is I had found him sooner.

His grounded, open and, I think, quite modest style heartens me greatly in a world where humility often seems scarce. I leave every session with Dave feeling energised, inspired, renewed and hopeful on this emergent journey of mine. To anyone who wants to understand what it really means to climb down from our human superiority and truly inhabit the world as nature intended – and lead others in doing so – I can’t recommend Dave enough.

Organisation:Walking Coach