At the Core

Written by Michael Jospe Posted in Wilderness Guiding

A Look at the Foundational Roots of our Certification Programs

At the Core


At the heart of this program is the strong foundational belief that Nature, more specifically our inherent relationship to Nature, is “The Healer”. If we drill down deep enough, we find that place inside all of us that is connected to and informed by Nature. At EBI we believe that each individual has a unique purpose, voice, or role to play that is driven by his or her connection to Nature. We also believe that learning to connect with and listen to Nature has a direct impact on our nervous systems, minds, and bodies. A powerful feedback loop exists between nature and ourselves: the more we quiet ourselves to resonate with the speed of Nature, the more we awaken; the more we awaken, the more we slow down to listen to Nature, and ultimately, to ourselves.  


Guiding, then, becomes a process of inviting our clients to journey inward towards self-reflection, supporting the individual to trust the clarity and inspiration that emerge, thereby supporting him or her to move outward into the world with the effective tools for integration. Nature plays a vital role in this inward/outward process and requires only our openness, presence, and trust to be effective. Our work  as guides is often about helping our clients find their own in-roads to connection. This process may take a long time, depending upon the individual, but once that connection is made and the person sees or experiences something deeply and personally meaningful, make way for true Leadership to emerge!


The connection happens with a bang. Almost audible, and certainly felt by those who bear witness. I’m sure, as you read this, you can recall your own moments of connection that hit you deeply and filled you with inspiration and a sense of direction. We can neither tell people how to live, nor can we define what is right or wrong for another. All we can do is seek and express our own truth, and invite others to do the same. It is not our job to make anyone “better” or to “fix”  them. As guides, our job is about safely guiding another to that place of connection so that they may determine what’s true and right for them. Because, it is that place that inspires and motivates healing, not us, our programs, our techniques, or our philosophies. These tools are “in-roads” to that place (some very effective). At EBI we learn several very powerful “in-roads” that can be offered to clients and students. Tools and techniques include: Mindfulness, Gestalt Therapy, The Mandala of Parts, Body-Centered Awareness, Nature-Awareness, Ceremony, Deep Listening, Powerful Questioning, use of metaphor and symbolism, Rites of Passage, and wilderness skills, to name just a few. The coaching context provides us with a useful structure for harnessing the inspirational energy of our clients and supporting them to follow through in living authentically. However, even the coaching context falls short unless the energy of the client fills it - a lesson I’ve had to be taught several times. 

So, these are the foundational tenets of our training. Everything that is taught is taught while holding the questions: “How does this tool help an individual access that place of self and nature-connection?”, and “How does this tool help the individual express his or her truth?” 

Honestly, I believe that with the right blend of safety and time in nature, anyone would experience deep transformation and personal alignment without any  therapeutic intervention or guiding at all. Just being in and with Nature is enough. Unfortunately, they are the rare few that intentionally give themselves over to Mother Nature. We are no longer culturally geared for this kind of living, and we wonder why we feel so disconnected and out-of-sorts. There is an urgency in the air. Many people come to EBI because they too see and feel the suffering that is occurring in humanity and the destruction that is occurring to the Earth – they feel that they must do something to help. It is as if their listening and connecting to Nature creates the impulse to act in this way, – very instinctively - a knowing at the core that then inspires the thinking about “how to”. It is a great honor to run a training program such as this, as what is most important to me is that my students feel empowered and supported to follow their own instinctive truth and make a difference in the world. This is exactly how EBI came about, through a deep knowing and calling, and that’s what it is here for, to help others do the same.

As we move up towards the more surface face-value expressions of our training program, you will find two different certifications: a certification in Nature-Connected Coaching (NCC), and a certification in Transformational Wilderness Guiding (TWG). The NCC certification is required for the TWG certification. We’ve come to learn that not all of our students are called to take clients into remote wilderness or to work for wilderness-based programs. So, we split the  certification in two. What this does is ensure that we are both giving out certifications appropriately and that our students have the training that matches the title of their certification. We feel that this strengthens the integrity of our certifications. In addition, we recognize that we must  walk in two worlds, that of soulful knowing and expression, and that of structured logical thinking. Obviously we strive for the former to inform the latter, so are slowly getting these certifications accredited and recognized by other organizations. This process has actually been incredibly helpful to the development of our curriculum, giving us some guidelines for how to deliver a professional certification that meets both the inner calling of our students as well as some of the restraints created by society. Without losing any of our content, philosophy, or method of instruction, we managed to get our NCC program approved by the International Coach Federation (ICF) as well as accredited by Western State Colorado University for both undergraduate and graduate level academic credits (up to 12!). We are currently working towards full accreditation  (rather than approval) by the ICF, but that will take us a year or so of tracking and documenting our students’ progress before we can apply. We are also investigating whether our wilderness leadership training meets any set standards for wilderness leadership education. For me, meeting all of these milestones without needing to minimize anything or change who we are to impress some governing body has been a strong affirmation of the quality of this program.

 Michael Jospe, PCC

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