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 Earth art by Kelli jarvis

Earth art by Kelli jarvis


The Diploma of Ecotherapy- The first of its kind down under in 9 modules

Module 1 – 5 is delivered  online. Self paced and supported by the teacher/facilitator moderated, online student group.  (Yahoo group.) Theory base and research frameworks from  Ecopsychology, are a focus  in the first part of the Diploma.  The asssessments also have a clear focus on working in and with nature. 

Enrollment for the Diploma of Ecotherapy IS OPEN.

You may wish to arrange a skype with the teacher/ facilitator Kerryn, (

The first 5 modules are assessment based .  While this is similar in structure to the Graduate Diplomas and other post graduate studies, 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, 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 first  five modules  ready to begin in January 2019.  The diploma of Ecotherapy is designed to run in sequence. That is the underpinning knowledge and experiences are programmed first, to support the work of modules 6 - 8 that have a group work focus.

Modules  6 – 8  will be delivered at a 5 day retreat style residential . Attendance will be a requisite, and the group work,  where facilitation and communication skills will be experienced and assessed in learning communitas.  

The last module, module 9, includes a 50 hour Ecotherapy placement in community. This is a supported placement, where you are offered support to locate and complete the placement.

The next residential is scheduled at Te Kehu retreat center,  in the Nelson Lakes area of the South Island NZ May 8 – 12, 2019.  

Residential  retreats will generally be offered once per year, with the following one scheduled for May 2020, in Australia. (place and dates tbc)

The Residential will have special guests/experiences planned. At Te Kehu, we will have Kelly Jarvis as our Maori “Kaiwhakaaraara -Navigator. (More about this as you scroll down) A visit to Verve, Flower Farmer Jenine Wardman’s  farm nearby.   Jeanine will show us how her floral workshops are a beautifully therapeutic.

 View from Te Kehu retreat centre south new zealand into the Nelson lakes national park

View from Te Kehu retreat centre south new zealand into the Nelson lakes national park

 Te Kehu Retreat Centre St Arnaud

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? CAMUS


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 )


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

Kelly runs the Nature Therapy Collective Facebook group for Aotearoa .


for more of Kellys story and how she takes the dark with the light in her art and work visit:

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 Reflexive and Experiential ways of Learning:

A large proportion of the Diploma of Ecotherapy delivered at self paced modules online. This is blended with one residential retreat style workshop where groups skills and therapeutic facilitation are applied and practiced. The Diploma is crafted to respect and engage many ways of learning, or multiple intelligences.   Experiential  and reflective, with invitation and opportunity  for your  individual and collective process,  ensure a solid foundation, as a practitioner of this work.   This foundation  prepares you for both the realities of working as an Ecotherapist, and the changing environment and opportunities that are emerging in the work of Ecotherapy.

  • · The retreat workshop is designed to be experiential. In this the learning is with opportunity to be transformational for all enrolled. The assessments will have an emphasis on an awareness of and a reflection on the dynamics of this process, for you.

  • · Assessments will be integral to each module. Some of them are 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. that express and evidence the impact and potential of the learnings. This will compliment the more academic style of some other more theory based assessment, and aims to engage, respect and embody the variety of multiple intelligence's or ways of learning ( See Howard Gardener’s research ) including earthways.

  • · A balance of theory and practical will comprise this Diploma. Invitations to ground the theory will be an integral part of the ways of learning. The diploma will have a focus on the evidence base amassing for Ecotherapy /Nature Based Therapies. It will also explore the theoretical frameworks that support the practice of Ecotherapy.

  • · Peer to peer learning will be an integral part of the delivery and each student will be invited to present a workshop in consultation with the teacher/facilitator at the residential. This will enhance the emphasis in group facilitation skills and leadership, as much of the work opportunities arising in Ecotherapy are in group settings. As such 360 degree feedback ( from all course participants) and the teacher will be invited and offered for reflection and growth.

  • · 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, practioners and researchers, shaping the field of Ecotherapy. Discussions in on online yahoo group will enable you t connect and 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.

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Assessments will be given considered and in- depth  feedback- including from your peers

Some may be a professional discussion with teacher.

The final module only, the  work placement, will be assessed satisfactory/unsatisfactory.


The Diploma of Ecotherapy - What will be covered in the 9 modules?


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. The ecological self.

Module 1 is accredited for attendance  at previously held Introduction to Ecotherapy workshops at Te Moata  NZ April 2017 & 2018 WITH completion of assessment + payment of catch-up fee of (NZ) $150

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

 A celtic green man cast from a mold in a church in cornwall England

A celtic green man cast from a mold in a church in cornwall England

Module 3 Healing Gardens. Flowers and trees ( both  have secret lives). Forest Bathing & Fractals   Art in wood and petals.    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 general malady of our time    The worried well and   FOMO (fear of missing out) Nature deficit disorder. Bill Plotkin - eco-centric 

Module 5  Ecotherapy’s answer:  Mindfulness, Meaning and Re-connection Natures  invitation:  into the  now.  Other Centred Therapy. Biophilia – our genetic  capacity for connection to other living things.  The innate capacity of humans to make stories/ meaning. - Transpersonal and Narrative Therapy models.

Module 6 Creativity the  Joy Of Earth  Earthart and other Creative responses to nature, Co-creation & Change Ecophobia. Joanna Macy’s work on time and despair. Basho’s frogs:  haiku and the tradition of nature poetica.

 Module 7  Therapeutic Facilitation of Ecotherapy Creating trust, making emotionally safe space with nature’s boundaries. Nature-smart Emotional Intelligence – Eco-literacy. Non-violent communication. Can we talk in canine? Non-talk based and Animal assisted Ecotherapy.

Module 8 Elements of Group Work The Art of Facilitating, Group Dynamics.  Programming. Ecotherapy. Inhabiting outdoor spaces and weather  ( WH & S).  Professional supervision of Biomimicry -  from Rhizomes and Funghi.

Be part of the r-evolution of Ecotherapy!


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    (


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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: ( part of enrollment package)

  • · 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

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.


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

"I believe that the integrity of this course of study, based firmly in many years as a horticultural and art therapist in mental health and community work, will speak for itself. I have mentored many student placements in nature based work, and supported work placements and assessments. This diploma has emerged out of direct experience with the evolving work of Nature/Earth Based therapies and I have witnessed the rapidly increasingly demand for professionals, competent in the particular range of skills, and expertise needed in this unique career pathway. I believe the Diploma of Ecotherapy will stand up boldly, and help to meet this demand AND go on to merge with other online forms of study emerging in Nature/Earth Based Therapies, to be the collective basis for accredited pathways of study, like a Bachelor of Ecotherapy (oooh don’t you like the ring to that?:)"

Founder/Facilitator Kerryn Coombs Valeontis

enrollment from Dec 1 2109

  email :

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Founder/Facilitator of the Diploma of Ecotherapy

Kerryn Coombs-Valeontis  spent her formative years in Aotearoa/NZ.    She started her career as a school teacher.  With a passion for Environmental Education,  she completed post graduate studies with a Masters in Social Ecology.   Essentially a philosophy of inquiry drawing inspiration from what emerges when traditional  silos of knowledge, ( psychology, ecology and sociology) and blended.    Both ancient wisdom and new sciences fuse and the Social Ecology foundation/lens is her place to navigate  the frontier of the emerging field of Ecotherapy.

 She 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  and Community Services, and on the Bachelor of Human Services.  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 has worked as an  art and  horticultural therapist, in clinical mental health services as  group facilitator  with addictions, mood and eating disorders, for over 5 years. .She has trained in Poetry Therapy, and Art Therapy  and taught Transpersonal Art  Therapy.   She currently fosters in out of home care and eco-art therapy.  

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) 


Kerryn is also the co-author ( with Karen Grey and Virginia Field) of a book “Nature Heals: An Introduction to Nature Based Therapies in Australia and Aotearoa

Pre-order your copy - makes a unique and inspirational gift for Christmas. Book available March 2019.

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 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