Standards for Shirnin-yoku Guides: What guides should know and be able to do
DRAFT Development Version--Updated March 6 2014.
Purpose: The purpose of Standards is to describe what guides should know and be able to do in order to assure uniform delivery of a high-quality experience. We will offer a Guide Certification program to those who demonstrate competencies. This is an essential element of developing a movement that will be widely viewed as credible by health care providers, land use agencies, funders, participants, and other stakeholders.
This version presents the overview of competencies. Comments and suggestions are welcome, using the form to the right. We will take comments for this round through April 15 2014. We will post a draft of specific standards by April 30. There will be another round of comments before a "first final" version of standards is posted June 30.
Primary Author: M. Amos Clifford, MA
Shinrin Yoku Competencies and Standards
Seven Main Competencies
1. Nature Connected: Guides comfortable and free of anxiety in natural settings, while also able to read the landscape and weather and accurately identify any hazards that may be present. Guides have an overall competency about how to move through the landscape and natural areas in ways that leave minimum impact or positive impact through informed and skillful wild-tending. Guides are completely aware of the diverse species that are present, even if they cannot name each one. They have a strong sense of the interdependency of all aspects of the land, water, air, and living species.
2. People Connected: Guides are personable, friendly, and able to establish rapport with people easily. They have an innate respect for others, and have well-developed observational and empathy skills that enable them to tune in to others’ needs. Guides are skillful communicators who are able to listen deeply to others and to articulate clearly, using appropriate language for the audience.
3. Community Connection: Guides operate within a network of respectful relationships with stakeholder groups in the community, including land use managers, other nature connection and education organizations, local businesses, educational institutions, health care organizations, philanthropic organizations, civic organizations, and local government. Community connection also includes participating in the community of shinrin-yoku guides and leaders, and others who are working together to develop and expand the effectiveness of nature connection strategies in general; this may include enlisting in citizen science efforts.
4. Safe: Guides have wisdom about how to avoid hazardous animals, plants, and situations such as high waters, slippery trails, and so on. They are aware of health care challenges that participants face, and manage activities to be responsive to the needs of participants. Guides have adequate first aid knowledge to respond to possible injuries, and maintain a current Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. They exercise judgment and cancel or postpone events when adverse weather or other conditions exist. Guides are alert along the trail and know the whereabouts of all participants at times (often working in pairs with clear procedures for accomplishing this together). They arrange to have enough guides and assistants available, based on the number of participants, so that adequate supervision is always present to help assure participant safety.
5. Knowledgeable: Guides have a solid understand of the research related to health and other benefits to humans of time spend in nature. They can name specific benefits, and a range of different nature connection activities. They are able to differentiate between benefits that are empirically established through scientific method, and benefits that are supported more by anecdotal or other forms evidence. They also differentiate between scientifically-validated methods and mechanisms of nature of connection and those methods that are have experiential, experimental, or folk-tradition roots. Guides may combine science-based approaches with other approaches, but are clearly cognizant of when they are doing so, and are careful to accurately represent the evidence, or lack of it, for efficacy of any given practice.
6. Skillful in Pedagogy: Guides know how to engage participants in activities that increase their awareness of, and connection to, self and nature. They differentiate between teaching approaches that support “nature education” and teaching approaches that support “nature connection;” for the purposes of shinrin-yoku guides de-emphasize nature education and emphasize nature connection. Guides understand the rationale for experiential learning. They know how to facilitate group learning using the format of council (circle discussions). They encourage learning to emerge from group interactions, and are restrained about imparting facts. However, guides are also able to give good, clear, brief lectures about the origins and rationale for the practice of shinrin-yoku; and also to give concise and easy-to-understand instructions related to safety. When facilitating nature connection activities, they give appropriately sequenced and clear instructions, and check for understanding. They draw upon a wide range of activities, and have the ability to create new ones on the fly, that are appropriate fits for the particular individuals, locations, and conditions that exist during the event. They allow adequate time for silent exploration, and balance this with adequate time for discussion and circle learning. They know when to teach and when to let go of teaching.
7. Organized: Guides competently manage the business-related processes of offering shinrin-yoku and related services. They have a clear vision for what they aim to accomplish, with specific goals and action plans. They form the necessary partnerships to achieve their goals, and use effective collaborative processes to work with others. They prices services appropriately and sustainably. They communicate with participants prior to events to give all necessary information. They respond to inquiries in a time fashion. They show up on time with all the required materials and forms. They follow up on questions and requests in a timely fashion, and steadily work toward improvement of programs and processes.