Train as a Facilitator

Train as a Think like a Tree facilitator

This training aims to equip you to:

  •  Run the Think like a Tree programme in your own venue 
  • Integrate the programme and principles into your existing discipline, such as: wellbeing, education, counselling, complementary therapy, business or organisational management, workplace wellbeing, regenerative leadership, life-coaching, health, mental health, disability etc. 
  • Adapt the programme for different audiences, such as children, specific needs groups.


The training will take the form of a three day course at Whistlewood Common, south Derbyshire plus a portfolio.  Note: you will also need to complete a Think like a tree  programme prior to the training course.

Rest of the world:

We don’t want you to fly to our courses, due to high carbon costs, so new in 2023 we will be offering an online facilitator programme, only open to people outside the UK who would have to fly to get here.  You will have to demonstrate a significant level of facilitator experience in a relevant discipline for the rest of the world online programme.  Please do not enquire about the online programme if you are in the UK, please wait for the next in-person option.

 Note: you will also need to complete a Think like a tree  programme prior to the training course.

Think like a Tree facilitator’s course

Aims and Objectives:

The course aims to equip participants with skills and knowledge to be able to: 

  1. Teach the Think like a tree six-week programme 
  2. Teach the programme in a three day (or other) format 
  3. Adapt the programme to specific client groups as required – eg children, young adults, corporate groups, specific needs groups, wellbeing practice, 1:1 sessions. 

Prior experience:

  1. In-person course: There are no fixed requirements but it is desirable to have experience in any of the following areas: education/training; outdoor learning; nature-inspired design (eg permaculture), wellbeing practice. We are also working with national organisations to roll the Think like a Tree concept and nature-inspired wellbeing and nature-inspired ways of living, so please get in touch if you would like to send some of your employees for training. 
  2. Online course: you must have significant experience in facilitation in a related discipline for the online programme.


  1. A love of nature and the outdoors! 
  2. A personal commitment to conscious/sustainable living 
  3. A commitment to equal opportunities and inclusivity 

Format (summary):

  1. Complete a Think like a tree programme (prior to the facilitator training weekend) 
  2. Portfolio part 1 (personal design) 
  3. Three day facilitator’s training course (in-person option) or 6 x 3hour online sessions (online option)
  4. Portfolio part 2a 
  5. Portfolio part 2b 

Each aspect of the portfolio is assessed with comments by Sarah and Milly and may require revisions before final signoff. 

Format (detail):

  1. Complete a Think like a tree programme

Attend one of the Think like a tree programmes. We recommend you attend an in-person course if at all possible. 

The course is approximately 16 hours long. 

  1. Portfolio part 1

Complete a personal design based on the learning and materials from the Think like a Tree programme. This design will be personal to you and could include: wellbeing, health, lifestyle, work, leisure, relationships etc. The design will include personal reflection and analysis. 

Submit for assessment prior to attending the facilitator’s training course. 

Estimate:  10 hours – 1 hour per session plus 4 hours write-up. 

  1. Three day facilitator’s training course

Whistlewood Common, Melbourne, South Derbyshire, DE73 8DH or online option (online option is strictly only open to people outside UK see above)

This course will include: 

Introductions, Ethics, environmental context, principles, aims and objectives 

Basics of: inclusion/integration, diversity, catering for particular needs, accelerated learning, different learning styles, compassionate communication, 

Examining the content of the Think like a Tree programme. 

Choosing venues (including outdoor venues), creating a positive learning environment, the challenges of teaching outdoors, insurance, co-facilitation, evaluation, 

Games and ice-breakers, dealing with difficulties, adapting the materials, sharing learning and materials, being part of the network. 

Practice teach (delivering a Think like a Tree taster session, in groups with feedback) 

  1. Portfolio part 2a

A comprehensive set of questions to answer on different aspects of being an effective Think like a Tree facilitator. You must complete these prior to continuing to the final design. 

Ethics: understanding of ethics, how do you live an ethical life? Changes you commit to make. Thinking for the future. 

Natural principles: Understanding of natural principles 

Learning: Inclusion/integration, diversity, catering for particular needs, accelerated learning, different learning styles, building self-esteem and confidence for participants, 

Communication: compassionate communication, co-facilitators 

Venues: Indoor and outdoor venues, finding a venue, creating a positive learning environment, risk assessment,, insurance, assessment of your own venue 

Trees: Basics of tree lifecycles, how a tree functions, basic tree identification and knowledge 

Running a course: advance materials, marketing and publicity, 

Evaluation: The importance of evaluation 

Adapting materials (if appropriate): Adapt the materials for delivering to your audience and venue 

Signposts to further learning: permaculture, biomimicry, forest school, facilitator’s trainings, compassionate communication 

Self-evaluation and feedback – write an evaluation of your learning journey 

Feedback: Seeking and receiving feedback 

  1. Portfolio part 2b: Livelihood design or course delivery design 

Complete a design for delivering your course, and/or for your own livelihood and ways you are incorporating Think like a Tree into your life. You may want to set out how you are going to deliver one course, or you can design how Think like a Tree will integrate into your overall life (work, leisure, commitments etc). The design does not need to represent a ‘final’ destination, but instead can reflect a journey, intentions and plans and must demonstrate a full understanding of the Think like a Tree design process. 

Total portfolio time needed: This will very much depend on existing experience – eg teaching/education,  wellbeing practice, forest school, outdoor learning, permaculture. None of these are required, but it will be useful if you have some experience in one or more relevant fields. 

The portfolios have deadlines and must be completed and assessed prior to you teaching any courses yourself. 

A late submission fee of £100 will be applied to portfolios submitted after the deadlines.


The trainers for the facilitator’s course are: Sarah Spencer and Milly Carmichael

Sarah Spencer

Sarah is passionate about woodlands, trees and all things natural and grows food and cut flowers on the nine-acre smallholding in south Derbyshire that she has shared with her family for the last 15 years.  She has planted woodlands, forest gardens, created an oasis for wildlife. Sarah has always felt most at home in the woods, growing up in ancient Charnwood Forest, and now lives in the National Forest, a new woodland being created around her. 

Sarah holds a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, having completed detailed designs from everything from her own land, a school garden, a community woodland and, moving into social permaculture – her own health.

Sarah was a founder director and lead designer of Whistlewood Common community woodland social enterprise.  Sarah trained as a forest school leader and was formerly a caseworker providing legal advice and representation to refugees.

Sarah founded Think like a tree in 2017 after recognising that nature gives us the tools for better wellbeing, and realising that many of the world’s problems (personal, social and environmental) might be solved by supporting people to reconnect with, and learn from, the rest of the natural world. 
She is the author of the book: Think like a Tree: The natural principles guide to life.

Milly Carmichael

Milly works in public health and food poverty and has a background in training for individuals, service providers, for education  and  for corporate clients. 

Milly lives in Marlborough in Wiltshire and teaches Think like a Tree courses in person and online with Sarah.

Milly is a trained facilitator and a perpetual student of permaculture. She also practices and shares the skills of solution-focused & compassionate communication. She has a background in nursing, occupational health and youth work, with most of her clinical experience focused on sexual health, substance use and associated mental health and wellbeing.

Milly has also studied horticulture and is a gardener. She draws on the myriad ways that soil, growing, weather and land management offer us analogy, metaphor and direct comparison to inform our personal and organisational growth and development.

Milly seeks to contribute to a broader understanding and practice of systems thinking, nature connection, power-sharing, collaboration, cooperation, resilience and sustainability in our education, business, heath and social care, criminal justice, retail, food and entertainment systems and industries. 

Think like a Tree network

Think like a tree network:

On completion of the training and assessment, participants will be able to join the Think like a tree network, which will give access to updated resources, group support and resources shared by the network. 

There is an annual charge for being part of the network and operating under the Think like a Tree brand (which is waived in year 1). 

Permission to run online Think like a Tree courses is not included without specific agreement. 

Think like a tree: The natural principles guide to life:

Sarah’s book sets out the natural principles, and how they can be applied to a wide range of circumstances. The ebook is included in the facilitator’s course on request.


If you are coming from further away there is camping at Whistlewood Common , or lots of lovely local accommodation in Melbourne and surrounding places in South Derbyshire.

How to book:  

  1. Please book the Think like a Tree programme of your choice via separate links 
  2. Email Sarah via the website to express interest in the Facilitator training, saying where you are located. A short bio of your experience and interests is useful at this stage.
  3. Book onto the facilitator training.


Please let us know if you have any specific requirements for example disability, health or learning style and we will try our best to accommodate.

We’re sorry but there are no reduced price places on this course.


Cost for Think like a Tree facilitator programme:


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"In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete."