Nature’s Wisdom: Ecotherapy Immersion & Certification Program

For therapists, counsellors, psychologists, coaches & other health professionals

2 5-day residential modules plus a 1-day online module

What is Ecotherapy?

We notice it ourselves. We notice it in others. The experience of groundedness, unity, wholeness, connectedness, peace… when we spend time in the natural world. Ecotherapy is not a new concept. It has been an inherent aspect of our existence on Earth for as long as we have been here.

It’s only a recent development in human evolution where being in nature is something that we go and “do.” Prior to this, our interdependence with nature was an obvious necessity. Consequently, as research is showing, the absence or forgetting of this necessity is resulting in many harmful and discouraging effects, both personally and collectively.

Ecotherapy, then, involves the intentional re-connection with the natural world as a profound gateway to our own healing and renewal.

About this training

This training draws from the work of many before us – those who have received ways of honoring, connecting to, and relating to the natural world from a long line of wisdom keepers.

Alongside this ancient wisdom, we bring the recent knowledge and expertise of the teachers who have dedicated much of their personal and professional lives to broadening the access to, and supporting the embodiment of, these teachings.

We utilize practices that support us in reconnecting to our inherent knowing, discovering our unique place in the natural world, and claiming the healing, growth and transformation this makes possible.

The primary professional modalities that inform this training are: Somatic Ecotherapy, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, Creative Arts Therapy, and Mindfulness. Some specific attention will also be given to working with trauma.

The specific lineage-holders of knowledge that this training takes particular inspiration from are: Dave Talamo with Wilderness Reflections; Steve Foster and Meredith Little with The School of Lost Borders; Joanna Macy with The Work that Reconnects; Jon Young with the Wilderness Awareness School; Bill Plotkin and the Animus Valley Institute; Ron Kurtz and Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy, and S.N Goenka with the Vipassana Meditation Centre.

The Structure of this Training

This is a four-module training spread out over 4 months. The first three modules taking place on a Friday evening and full weekend. The final module takes place on a Wednesday evening plus full days on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and includes an overnight solo.

The purpose of the training is to support participants in (a) developing their own intimate relationship with nature, (b) developing a solid structure for facilitating an Ecotherapy session, (c) incorporating a number of different therapeutic modalities well suited for this work (see above), and (d) determining where their own particular level of comfort is in this way of working.

Each of the four modules will revolve around the theme of one of the four cardinal directions (North, South, East and West) and their associated stages of human development and transformation (drawn particularly from the work of Meredith Little and Steve Foster and the School of Lost Borders, and from the work of David Talamo and Wilderness Reflections). As part of each module, participants will explore each of these developmental stages in relation to their own personal life journeys, in relation to the various cycles found in nature, and with regard to facilitating the healing and transformation of their clients.

This training will support you to:

  • Develop your own intimate & allied relationship with the natural world
  • Support your clients to create their own intimate & allied relationship with the natural world
  • Support your clients to access strength-based nature resources
  • Develop an internal topographical compass and map that will enable you to feel confident in facilitating and navigating an individual or group ecotherapy session
  • Develop skills for building therapeutic relationships that create safety, boundaries and trust
  • Create a backpack of therapeutic tools and skills to draw from and weave into your existing outdoor or indoor practice
  • Explore philosophies and principles that support the practices of Nonviolence, organismic wisdom, unconditional positive regard, authentic communication and loving kindness
  • Have fun, relax and connect with like-minded people in nature

Course Framework:

4 Modules (over two 5-day trainings and one day-long online)

First Five Day – Modules 1 & 2

Module 1: “Establishing Basecamp” – Resourcing
Theme:  Gathering resources and establishing alliance, with nature, our clients, and our essential self

Module 2:  “The Foothills” – Accessing Theme:  Identifying the therapeutic threshold and venturing forth.

Dates:  March 6th to 11th, 2022
Location:  Waitati Valley Retreat Centre – Dunedin, New Zealand


One Day Online Training – Saturday 2nd April


Second Five Day – Modules 2 & 3

Module 3:  “Climbing the Mountain” – Processing
Theme:  Navigating the territory of unhealed wounds and unresolved trauma.

Module 4:  “Back to Basecamp” –  Integration
Theme:  Weaving the rewards of this transformative journey into ordinary consciousness and our everyday life.

Dates:  April 24th -29th, 2022
Location: Waitati Valley Retreat Centre – Dunedin, New Zealand


(Optional) Vision Quest: A personal plunge into the depths of Nature’s Wisdom

Theme:  After having completed the journey of the core training, this is an opportunity to further deepen and integrate the knowledge and wisdom you have gained; and to request further guidance and direction from the natural world and the depths of your essential self.

Dates:  18th – 25th March
Location:  Waitati Valley Retreat Centre – Dunedin, New Zealand


Meet the Teachers:

Toni McErlane – Ecotherapist, Counsellor, Mediator, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Facilitator, Outdoor Adventurer

Paris Williams – Ecotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, Hakomi Teacher, Somatic Trauma Specialist, Outdoor Adventurer

Brendon Whitmore – Ecotherapist, Craniosacral Therapist, Deep Nature Connection Mentor and Wilderness Rites of Passage Facilitator


Course Investment:

Early bird discount only $2,950 until  31st December  ($3,250 afterwards)

*Optional mid-course 8-day Soul Quest – an additional $1,350 (see here for details)

* price includes tuition, all lunches/dinners, & spacious dorm-style or camping accommodations



The event is finished.


06 - 11 Mar 2022



More Info



Waitati Retreat Centre
462 Waitati Valley Road, Waitati

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