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“This module felt like an arrival home after a long time lost in citied spaces”

“As I become more aware of this ‘eco self’, I feel more grounded in myself, and my hope is that this will transmit to those I meet with. “

“It has been a sweet reprieve, not without its moments of challenge (mainly self-created fear/perfectionist patterns), but immensely valued.”

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them
Albert Einstein


Kerryn Coombs-Valeontis

"I believe that the integrity of this course of study, grounded deeplly in many years as a horticultural and eco-art therapist in mental health and community work, will speak for itself. I have mentored many student placements in nature based work; success is succession.

This diploma has emerged out of direct experience as a practioner, in the evolving work of Nature/Earth Based therapies. I I have witnessed the increasingly demand for professionals, competent in the particular range of skills, and expertise needed in this unique career pathway. There is a diversity of applications, and ways to apply the work of Ecotherapy. It is a calling, and those who hear it, will find the Diploma of Ecotherapy will stand up boldly, supporting those wishing to find their way into what Thomas Berry called “ the “Great Work” of our times.


Kerryn is also the co-author with Karen Grey and Virginia Field of “Nature Heals: An Introduction to Nature Based Therapies in Australia and Aotearoa/NZ”

Launched in April/May 2019

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Kerryn Coombs-Valeontis  lives in Sydney, Australia, growing up in in Aotearoa/NZ.    She started her career as a high school teacher.  With a passion for Environmental Education,  she completed post graduate studies with a Masters in Social Ecology.   Fusing ancient wisdom and new sciences, placing humanity in this midst of it all, her Social Ecology foundation/lens is her place to navigate  the frontier of the emerging field of Ecotherapy. She blends creativity and co-creating the world, from her studies in Transpersonal Art Therapy. An integral approach to working with Nature as co-therapist, for the challenges of such times as these.

 Kerryn has  been a community worker and manager with Relationships Australia, and taught in adult vocational education (TAFE) for over 15 years, including the Diploma  of Youthwork, Case Work  Community Services, and on the Bachelor of Human Services. She assists in Bachelor /Masters of Health and Wellbeing at the Buddhist Nan Tien Institute in Wollongong NSW. She served  on the management committee of Cultivate (NSW Horticultural Therapy Society) for 2 years and created and taught an introductory course in Horticultural Therapy , with colleague and Horticulturalist, Karen Grey.  She works as an  Eco-art therapist, in the community, and in clinical mental health services as  a group facilitator  with addictions, mood and eating disorders. .She has trained in Poetry Therapy, and has taught Transpersonal Art  Therapy. She currently fosters teenagers, as a house parent in out of home care,

B.Ed, M. Social Ecology,(UWS) Dip Transpersonal Art Therapy, Cert. Horticultural Therapy (TAFE NSW)  Cert IV Workplace Training/Assessment,  Cert. Organic Agriculture (Nutritech) and Cert. Professional Supervision  (Relationships Australia) 


  • IICT has a  two part aproval process:  the first is gaining professional indemnity/public liability  insurance  for Ecotherapy as a modality. This offers  insurance cover  to you as a student, while you are on your professional placement. 

The second stage is  becoming  an approved training provider with IICT.  This requires the submission for approval of the following:

A student refund policy

· A dispute policy

An overview of course content and student contact hours

Detail of assessments students must complete satisfactorily to receive Diploma

Business Registration and current insurance/professional indemnity·

C.V of teacher of the course

· A student refund policy

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While IICT are not a registered training authority, they have over 11,000 members across the world. Course Approval with IICT makes it possible to study in this growing field of Nature based Therapies.  They represent emerging therapies and modalities while in the crucial stage of becoming established  - this process has been traversed  with other expressive  /values based therapies that are more established than Ecotherapy, but are similar to it,  such as Art Therapy,  Pet Therapy  and Music Therapy etc.  Catalytic Validity is a term used to refer  to the validity of values based work in  the stage during which the evidence base is being consolidated/action researched.  It is a critical part of development and change.   Typically mainstream practices need time to catch up to cutting edge/emerging research and this can take some years to integrate into other more established modes.  Meanwhile those who experienced the effectiveness of the   Nature Based Therapies, forge and develop its application into the community, while having the assurance of insurance cover.  It is a way of participating in change:  BEING the change.

LAST RESIDENTIAL May 8 - 13 2019

“lake time”

Te Kehu Lake Rotoiti Aotearoa/New Zealand

”crucial, lifechanging…biggest opportunity for learning and growth ” Rachel Blenheim NZ

“It was exciting to be part of the inaugural
Ecotherapy diploma retreat. It felt like we were all on a waka sailing off into to the unknown but at the same time experiencing an incredible adventure!
Arohanui Yvonne NZ

“The retreat space was one of the magical places on earth, I loved every moment of being there, I totally and deeply connected to the place; I felt welcomed and warmth …I loved the mountains, the air, the weather, the grass, the lake, the stars, the sky…… falling in love forever space...”

Ling Sydney Australia

sandstone earth labyrinth at Residential Retreat Sydney

sandstone earth labyrinth at Residential Retreat Sydney

The Diploma of Ecotherapy uniquely crafted to meet the growing need for work opportunities in skilled facilitation of nature based therapeutic work.

Diploma of Ecotherapy 9 modules, 500 hours in total. Self paced, complete full or part time; it’s up to you!

fit study around your life

THE DIPLOMA ECOTHERAPY; each module is approx 50 hours of reading, experiential immersions and reflection in nature with creative responses and assignment work.

Each module can take 2 - 4 weeks full time or up to 3 months part time. Its up to you.

The Diploma of Ecotherapy can be completed in 1 year (full time) or up to 3 years part time.

Module 1 – 6 delivered  online.

Module 7 & 8 Groupwork Modules taken at the annual residential.

Module 9 is a 50 hour placement in community, supported by the facilitator.

Be part of a lively online student group. connecting and supporting your learning journey.  

Assignments are a blend of immersions in and with nature, and application of research based theoretical frameworks.

COST $3145 (AUD)

$300 per module + $445 residential retreat with all food and accommodation.
(excludes travel to residential)

Start with $600 for first 2 modules

Pay as you go

Fit study around your life and budget.

Email for enrollment pack or to schedule a phone call/messenger chat with founder and facilitator Kerryn Coombs-Valeontis

There is no pre-requisite  degree necessary, before  enrolling in the Diploma of Ecotherapy.  Studies in psychology, horticulture, floral art,  animal husbandry,  eco-tourism, permaculture, counselling, social and community work, landscape design, youthwork, teaching, drug and alcohol work and adventure therapy, and others, all compliment the work of Ecotherapy.  These will help to deepen and broaden your experience, knowledge and practice as an Ecotherapist.

The diploma of Ecotherapy is designed to run in sequence. Underpinning knowledge and experiences are programmed first, to support the work of modules 7 - 8 delivered at the residential , that have a group work and a therapeutic facilitation focus.

“And here are trees and I know their gnarled surface, water and I feel its taste.

These scents of grass and stars at night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes -

how shall I negate this world whose power and strength I feel?”


In te ao Māori, the concept of ako means both to teach and to learn. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. ( The Maori dictionary )

Earth art by Kelli jarvis

Earth art by Kelli jarvis

Kia ora Korua (greetings to you )
I have found that the Ecotherapy training has allowed me to develop and fine tune my own model of practice to work alongside people in this space. I have existing qualifications that are recognized in NZ , counselling, art and social work degrees. I am employed by a Maori health organization who supports and encourages my way of working, as an eco therapist. They see they benefits this way of working has on the whanau, and individuals I work alongside, as well as the healing for Papatuanuku from creating these connections and relationships.

Kia ora e te whanau  ( hello extended family)

I’ll take a moment to introduce myself, I’m a mum of 5 beautiful beings and a cheeky dog. I’m An artist and adventurer. I’ve been working in our community for over ten years now, working alongside people who have experienced family violence and trauma. My roles have varied from program coordinator, women’s advocate, community advocate and now Family Violence Prevention Coordinator and Counselor at a Maori Health Organization In Palmerston North, where I use Ecotherapy and creativity as my models of practice with women, men, youth and children. I have developed a nature based women’s program called Puawai, and I’m currently working on a children’s program. I have been so grateful to have been mentored by Kerryn over the last couple of years of my Ecotherapy journey, such powerful work and am so excited about completing the Diploma alongside you all.  Taking on the role of  “Kaiwhakaaraara-Navigator” I believe enables me to sit within the learning group,  not as a leader or expert in this area but to insure we are guided to practice, and learn in a way that is respectful and honoring of Te Ao Maori and the whenua (land) that we are learning from,  following Tikanga (guidelines) that keep us safe, and the land safe. 

I hope this explains what this organic, seed of a role will be. 

Looking forward to working from you all and growing Ecotherapy 

Love and light,
Kelly Jarvis


Click here to view Puawai Nature Therapy.
Click here to view the Nature Therapy Collective Facebook group for Aotearoa
For more of Kelly’s story and how the dark with the light interplays in her art and work click here.

Bespoke Course

20 years of experience  in community, teaching and environment is  condensed into an innovative and experiential Diploma of Ecotherapy, crafted  to prepare you for the changing world of work opportunities increasing as the field of Ecotherapy and Earth/Nature based therapies emerges.  Action research on the need for this Diploma of Ecotherapy, has informed  inspired and indeed encouraged, the creation and the writing and delivery of this course. Practitioners and prospective employers of Ecotherapy programs, were consulted.  The Diploma of Ecotherapy blends  vocational  needs with a strong theoretical and evidence base, designed to assist you in forging and making the most of work opportunities in the growing field of  Eco and Nature based therapies.

The Diploma of Ecotherapy consciously develops the holistic leadership forging your professional identity as an Ecotherapist, and the confidence in your ability to create and develop  opportunities for the work of Ecotherapy.     This is a Diploma that truly enables you to and to be a part of  and indeed shape the evolution of what Thomas Berry called “ the great  work” and Joanna Macy calls “the work that connects.”  

Unique Experiential ways of Learning:

  • Online learning means flexibility for your study.

  • Crafted to respect and engage many ways of learning, or multiple intelligences.   

  • Experiential  and reflective, with opportunity  for individual and collective process, 

  • This foundation  prepares you for the opportunities and realities of working as an Ecotherapist, and to navigate the changing world.

  • One residential retreat style workshop held annually in Australia or NZ, where groups skills and therapeutic facilitation are applied and practiced. is required to complete the Diploma of Ecotherapy.

  • Assignments grounded in nature and a solid integral theory base in Ecopsychology, Transpersonal Psychology and other relevant models.

  • Some assignments designed to encourage creative responses to this course material, and your own inner processes integrating the learnings. As such they can include (but are not limited to) poetry, songs, dance, art/sculpture installations etc.

  • · Creativity is the way Earth renews and expresses itself. Invitations to your own creativity will be a feature and a focus, sitting alongside growing its skilled facilitation for your client groups, inspired by nature. . We will draw our inspiration and indeed sometimes mimic nature (e.g self care principals based on trees, rhizomes and fungi and the way they stay strong together)

  • · Readings offered before some modules, from current thinkers, practitioners and researchers, such as Ken Wilbur, Terry Fisher, Joanna Macy, Bill Plotkin, shaping the field of Ecotherapy. Discussions in on online student group enable you to connect /share your journey with other students.

Ecotherapy is ecopsychology’s success story. Mainstream psychologists such s Reser, Koger and Winter endorse it, noting the impressive and growing body of evidence for the therapeutic effects of contact with the living worlds and the need for clinicians to validate the distress that people experience over the ruination of the earth. “
Andy Fischer “Radical Ecopsychology Psychology in the Service of Life.

Conscious Communitas  - returning Joy to learning

Communitas happens, when we form and cohabit in temporary  learning community, and  is harnessed  in an intentional ways to enhance the powerful aspects and the joy, of experiential learning.  Edith Turner,   an anthropologist published  a definitive overview of the anthropology of communitas, outlining the concept in relation to the natural history of joy.   She explored the nature of human experience , in relation to the sacred, nature and spirit. Communitas often occurs spontaneously,  (delightfully) deepening learning and connection to fellow learners.


The Diploma of Ecotherapy - Module by Module

Module 1  Introduction to Ecotherapy. Towards a definition of Ecotherapy.  Overview of  benefits, current practice opportunities emerging for Ecotherapy . Overview of the research/evidence base weaving together a theoretical framework for Ecotherapy. Sense of Place, Earthart & the ecological self.

NOTE: Module 1 is accredited for attendance  at previously held Introduction to Ecotherapy workshops at Te Moata  NZ April 2017 & 2018

 Module 2 Indigenous Earthways     No separation ontology ( nature of being) post-humanism - redefining human place in the world alongside other life forms. Earth Mothers & Green Men.  Colonization   The rise of  Eco-feminism      

Module 3 Healing Gardens. Flowers and trees ( both  have secret lives). Working in/with nature as co-therapist  Eco-psychological models of working with nature.  Way beyond 5 senses.  Sensory plants.  Seasonal  planting calendars. Soil and Seratonin – why dirt is good for you.

Module 4  Anxiety &  Depression & Indivi-dualism – the great malady of our times  Eco anxieties and Integral Ecology The challenge of Eco-romanticism Bill Plotkin - re-wilding psychology and eco-centric  life stages model. Transpersonal Models of meaning making and healing from our dark nights of the soul. Beach art and psychodynamic theory of working with found objects.

Module 5  Ecotherapy’s answer:  Mindfulness, Meaning and Re-connection Natures  invitation:  into the  now.  Other Centered Therapy from Buddhism. Biophilia – our genetic  capacity for connection to other living things.  Can we talk in canine/feline/equine? Non-talk based and Animal assisted Ecotherapy.

Module 6 Creativity the  Joy Of Earth  Earthart and other Creative responses to nature, Co-creation & Change Joanna Macy’s the work that connects. Basho’s frogs:  the tradition of nature poetica. Nature Deficit Disorder and the importance of Nature in children. Creating a 6 week program for your ecotherapy placement.

 Module 7  Therapeutic Facilitation with Nature as Co-therapist Technology/tools of creating healing space with nature; Leadership inspired by nature’s laws of Chaos and Complexity theory Co-creating  boundaries with nature.   Understanding participants attitudes to Nature;  Maori tradition of AKO - a way of sharing power. WHS working outdoors and weather as co-therapist. Running a group of Ecotherapy with fellow students at residential.

Module 8 Groups as eco-systems and Leadership from Nature  Facilitating, as Social Artistry, New Group Dynamics from laws of nature, inside the energy of living systems. Fractal energy snapshots; In flow with group energy from chaos/complexity theory. Creative ways working with resistance.  Inhabiting inner/outer spaces.  Wisdom-learning leadership from Indigenous Traditions

Module 9 Professional Practice of Ecotherapy; WHS in Ecotherapy. Professional supervision of Bio-mimicry -  inspired by Rhizomes and Fungi. Self Care from Nature Ethics for Ecotherapists 50 hour placement in community of choice or workplace. Includes 360 degree feedback. ( assistance in finding /creating placement from facilitator)

Be part of the Ecotherapy (r)evolution!

Feedback from  participants in Introduction to Ecotherapy - Te Moata 2017/18


Working with the land art I felt connected to the earth our mother…I loved the smell of the warm soil…and feeling that source with my bare feet.  I will introduce Ecotherapy to the families I work with  confidence that I am doing the right thing.  Before when using nature, although I felt intuitively that is was right I believed I had nothing to support this;   now I do.  Thankyou for bringing this work to us.”   Family Violence Worker

“the course will  help me in supporting staff who work in the frontline with teaching to support clients and their families with mental health and addictions issues”    Emerge Aotearoa

“It gave me a better understanding of the ngahere (bush) …being in tune with everything…”  Maori family worker

 “Other centred therapy is a powerful focus:  I liked the idea of the eco-self…it’s something I want to notice more…and an awareness of eco-anxiety is useful for understanding students.”  University student counselor

“It will play a very important role within my professional role and personal journey”  Nurse

“ A greater understanding of unspoken values and beliefs through immersion in nature and gentle guidance – this workshop will impact my work and a  greater sense of self through affirmation of the possibilities of be-ing in natural spaces.”

“ an new creativity is seeded …”

”re-affirming of our work, our medicine”

“I feel more present, more connected with my eco-self”

“a softening, and a deeper realization of what is important…

 Poem “Find me a word”  (written after Ecotherapy workshop)

by NZ poet Gus Simonovic - a beautiful film version produced by Martin Sercombe    ( Click here to view the video.

The Peak professional association for Creative Arts Therapies in Australia, New Zealand and Asia Member Number #504

The Peak professional association for Creative Arts Therapies in Australia, New Zealand and Asia Member Number #504

Member Number 1806154162

Member Number 1806154162



Next Residential for Groupwork Modules 7 & 8 April 29 - May 3 2020

Off Grid Wetlands 1 hour from Sydney, Australia.

Wetlands Northwest of Sydney, where next residential will be held April 29 - May 3 2020