Professional Carefarm Training Program

Creating Health and Community: The Regenerative Social Health Model

Ecological wellness through restorative spaces

Are you a mental health provider, social worker, psychologist, nurse, physician, spiritual leader/counselor, school counselor, or other licensed professional who wishes to learn how to truly help those suffering from the traumatic death of a loved one? Do you work with bereaved parents or grieving family members after suicide, homicide, accidents, or other losses? Are you a trained peer counselor who has a heart for helping others? 

An intensive course on restorative communities and spaces

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the effects of urbanization on social, emotional, and physical health. A report issued by the United Nations Center for Human Settlements found that approximately 75% of the population in developed countries live in densely populated urban areas. Contact with nature promotes restoration from stress and mental and emotional fatigue and has positive health benefits. Even sitting in a room with a view of trees promoted a more rapid decline in diastolic blood pressure than sitting in a viewless room.

Relationships with animals, too, improve emotional and mental wellness and increase longevity in humans. Gorman (2016) suggests that animal interaction creates shared relations and a commonality of knowledge and experiences between people, regardless of their background and abilities, helping build a community and create a sense of acceptance. Human-animal interaction has been shown to have a range of positive influences on varying groups of humans: reduced autistic symptoms, improved self-esteem, reduced loneliness and increased interaction in social situations to more physiological changes such as improved motor skills, reduced anxiety and reduced blood pressure (Barker & Dawson, 1998; Odendaal, 2000; Urbanik, 2012).

In the book Human Spaces: Life-Enhancing Designs for Healing, Working, and Living, architect Barbara Crisp presents the concept of a holistic wellness focused, or restorative, environment based on the work of the late modernist architect Louis I. Kahn. Crisp includes a diverse selection of projects, including hospitals, corporations, medical, residential, educational, and retreats, public spaces, to illustrate this concept, A life-enhancing environment is defined as “a place built or created to support and sustain the well-being of a particular occupant of time, place, and culture, where the body as a whole, both inner and outer, is regarded as essential to how the space is experienced” (p.6). These principles inspire design that both honors the earth, and all its beings, and can be translated into all aspects of daily life.

One restorative space, the Selah Carefarm, has had tremendous success helping grieving people, including leading them toward more sustainable and healthier lifestyles (Gorman & Cacciatore, in press; Cacciatore & Gorman, 2020; Gorman & Cacciatore, 2016). The potential mental health and healthcare savings, both short and long term, is substantial. For example, from a strictly economic standpoint, the price tag for unresolved grief amounts to billions of dollars each year in lost productivity, lower job performance, and health implications of destructive coping (Ayers et al., 2004). The “hidden annual cost of grief in the workplace” related to grief after a loved one’s death is estimated at $37.4 billion (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization). Fox, Cacciatore, and Lacasse (2014) found the cost of child death to cost a conservative $3 billion dollars annually, and with little or no community support grievers falling into a “downward spiral of destructive coping behaviors” (Kissane, 2000, p. 46) including substance use (Cacciatore et al, 2014). And just the cost of substance abuse treatment alone in 2021 was $740 billion (National Institute for Drug Abuse, 2022), or about $37,000 per person just for direct treatment, with about a 50% relapse rate.

This course crosses various disciplines to construct a unique program for those interested in building spatial, community-based, and infrastructural changes in the way humans, animals, and the natural world meet and gather to interact sustainably and compassionately. Teachings can be applied in schools and hospitals, churches and parks, mental health facilities and treatment centers, carefarms and ranches, in urban and rural areas, and within parks and trail systems.

This intensive, hands-on course will help prepare community members and professionals to assess, plan, and implement both therapeutic landscapes and communities within the fields of community mental health, sustainability and environmental stewardship, substance abuse prevention and treatment, mental/emotional health and psychiatry, criminal justice, mortuary sciences, medicine, nursing, retirement centers and nursing homes, faith communities, animal welfare, public health, K-12 education, nonprofit sector, and more.

About one-half the course will be spent in the classroom and the other half outdoors in an experiential pedagogical model.

:  This course will require you to be outdoors and may not be appropriate for those with movement limitations or sensitive to heat, cold, animal dander or saliva, bugs, and generally the subjectively unpleasant experiences of the natural world.

The program will be led by Selah Carefarm founders Dr. Joanne Cacciatore and Dave Decker.
Woman leaning on fence, smiling

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is a bereaved mother and the founder of the MISS Foundation, an international NGO that serves families whose children have died. She is also a tenured research professor and senior Wrigley Institute of Sustainability Scholar at Arizona State University, spearheading the Graduate Certificate in Trauma and Bereavement. Her best selling book, Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief, is a national award winning best seller that has helped revolutionize the way our culture thinks, and feels, about grief. She works with and counsels families from all around the world who have experienced catastrophic deaths. Dr. Jo, believing that current practices around food production are a social, ethical, and environmental justice issue, is a vegan and hasn’t eaten meat since 1972.  She also teaches meditation, mindfulness, and compassion and ahimsa practices to students and clients from around the world.  If you’re a provider seeking supervision or consultation, please contact us.

View Joanne’s complete bio and vita please click this link.


Dave is a graduate of Bethel College and North Dakota State where he received, respectively, a BA in physics and BS in mechanical engineering.  He is a natural empath with a deep love for children and animals, devoting many hours since 2010 to helping as a volunteer in support of the MISS Foundation’s important work and as the manager of Selah Carefarm. He enjoys working on classic cars.

October 20-27th, 2024

Selah Carefarm

Registration fee: $1995

Lodging is not included in registration fee. Accepted applicants will be responsible for their own lodging, onsite or offsite. If you would like to register for onsite lodging, please contact

Course Schedule

  • Conceptual introductions
  • Body centered restoration
  • Multisensory restoration
  • Restoring the connection with animals and the natural world
  • The restorative benefits of connection, collaboration, and community
  • A priori research
  • Types of RS
  • Historical aspects of SC
    • Planning
    • Forecasting layout
    • Community building
    • Emotionally intelligent landscape
    • Mutuality in caring
  • Biopsychosocial strategies for cultivating compassion for self/other that are green
  • Cacciatore & Gorman’s (2012) green care model
  • Group work on site (therapy groups, self-help groups, task groups, ritual, mentorship)
  • Individual work on site (ecotherapy/counseling, contemplative work on site)
  • Managing barriers to care and client advocacy (sustainability and resources, community factors, grants, access to services)
  • Constructing ‘place & space’
    • Therapeutic landscape
    • Ritual spaces
    • Honoring philosophical underpinnings
  • Trauma-informed green spaces
  • Cultural flexibility and adaptation
  • Building RSTCs within groups, organizations, communities, and healthcare delivery systems
  • Restorative construction of micro-spaces
  • Downscaling in institutional applications
  • Ethics in animal care and rehabilitation
  • Green and blue spaces
  • Sustainability as social justice
  • Sustainability planning
  • Overcoming barriers to care

Selah Carefarm in the Press

Our Upcoming Carefarm Training Programs

Travel Info

Our Carefarm training program will take place in our newly built, state-of-the-art meeting room at the MISS Foundation’s Andy’s Sanctuary at the Selah Carefarm near Sedona, Arizona. Address will be provided to attendees. Attendees may find nearby hotel accommodations in areas close to Andy’s Sanctuary at the Selah Carefarm (zip code 86325) in Old town Cottonwood, the Village of Oak Creek, and Sedona. Or, contact if you would like to reserve a room at Andy’s Sanctuary. Space is limited.


Carefarm Training Program Application

You are required to apply for this program. If accepted, your notice of acceptance will include instructions for payment and registration for your training.

This is an experiential learning, as well as didactic, course. As such, about 40-50% of this course is outdoors, utilizing hands-on learning. If you are uncomfortable with the natural world, please reconsider whether or not you want to apply for this course.

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