Wild Mind Training Program

Designed for human development guides from a variety of fields (see examples below), the Wild Mind Training Program (WMTP) is a professional training in the use of the Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche (NBMHP) to support others to cultivate their innate wholeness and to acquire the skills of Self-healing. The Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche is, among other things, a comprehensive inventory of what can be right about a person, a “golden shadow” version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), mainstream psychology’s list of what can go wrong with people.

The cultivation of wholeness is a new paradigm for human development that contrasts radically with psychotherapy and its focus on healing (the elimination or reduction of psychopathology). While wholeness does enable healing — in particular, a more potent form, namely Self-healing — it offers so much more: Wholeness engenders true adults and visionary artisans of cultural renaissance.

Since 1980, Bill Plotkin and colleagues at Animas Valley Institute have been developing nature-based models and practices for cultivating full human potential. Our human psyches possess astonishing resources that wait within, but we might not even know they exist until we discover how to access them and cultivate their powers, their untapped potentials and depths. The Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche (NBMHP) identifies these resources — which we call the four facets of the Self, or the four dimensions of our innate human wholeness — and also the four sets of fragmented or wounded subpersonalities that form during childhood. Rather than proposing ways to eliminate our subpersonalities (which is not possible) or to beat them into submission, the NBMHP describes how to cultivate the four facets of the Self and discover the gifts of our subpersonalities.

The key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not to suppress psychological symptoms, to merely recover from addictions and trauma, or to simply manage stress but rather to fully embody our multifaceted wild minds, commit ourselves to the largest, soul-aligned story we’re capable of living, and serve the greater Earth community.

The NBMHP offers numerous practices for cultivating the four facets of our human wholeness, which together constitute the Self. We call this cultivation “wholing.” Once we have sufficiently developed the Self, we’re able to embrace, using our facets of wholeness, the wounded and fragmented elements of our psyches, a process we call “Self-healing.” Bill’s book, Wild Mind: Field Guide to the Human Psyche, presents a full description of wholing and Self-healing.

In the best of traditional psychotherapy, the therapist employs his or her own wholeness to support the healing of the client’s psyche. In wholistic healing, in contrast, the therapist (or coach, mentor, teacher, parent, or clergy) first supports the individual to cultivate the Self, and then coaches the individual to self-heal using the resources of the Self.

The development of the Self also enables the cultivation of the four windows of knowing: heart-centered thinking, full-bodied feeling, full-presence sensing, and deep imagination.

The cultivation of these and other innate human capacities engenders mature humans capable of embodying their human wholeness rather than living through the fragments of psyche elicited by our mainstream Western modes of parenting, education, religion, and entertainment.

Rather than supporting people to function more effectively in a dysfunctional culture, the NBMHP enables individuals to develop their nature-given wild minds and in that way enhance their personal fulfillment as well as their capacity to serve the world from their wholeness, thereby transforming contemporary culture. Cultivating wholeness also prepares individuals for the mystical descent to soul and, in that way, the uncovering of deepest life purpose.

If you apply to the Wild Mind Training Program, it could be with any one or more of several intentions, including the desire to guide nature-based wholing and Self-healing programs, to develop a strong foundation in wholing and Self-healing work to blend into your current professional path, and to further cultivate your own wholeness and capacities for Self-healing.

The Wild Mind Training Program is expanding, both in numbers of trainees as well as in levels of training. There are now three Levels of Wild Mind training.


The objectives of the Level 1 Wild Mind Training Program are to:

• Provide training in the NBMHP model and in the skills of facilitating nature-based wholing and Self-healing
• Support trainees in their personal cultivation of wholeness and Self-healing
• Support the career development of professionals called to guide others toward wholeness.

(Note #1) The WMTP is a training in underworld guiding but is not a training program in Soul Initiation Guiding. Learning to facilitate the descent to soul is the mission of Animas’ Soulcraft Apprenticeship and Initiation Program — (SAIP)

(Note #2) The Level 1 Wild Mind Training Program does not provide training in group facilitation skills. WMTP is primarily designed to support one-on-one guiding using the Nature Based Map of the Human Psyche. If your current or intended work includes group sessions and you do not currently possess these skills, we encourage you to take our new Wild Mind Group Facilitation in Nature Program or seek other (non-Animas) training in group facilitation.


The WMTP is designed for professional human development guides (PHDGs) or advanced students or trainees in a human development graduate school or training program. PHDGs might work in fields such as psychotherapy, psychiatry, clinical psychology, professional counseling, ministry, life coaching, ecotherapy, rites of passage, education, and certain realms of mentoring and outdoor education. In most cases, we would expect you to be professionally licensed, certified, or eligible for certification if your discipline and state require.



Applicants must complete the following prior to applying:

Wild Mind Intensive and one (1) of the following programs: (NOTE: Animas online intensives do not qualify as prerequisites)


Wild Mind Intensive and any two (2) other Animas intensives (but not the Council and Mirror Intensive or the Nature and the Human Soul Intensive).


1) Wild Mind Intensive (WMI)
2) The Way of Council and the Art of Mirroring Intensive (CMI)
3) Nature and the Human Soul (NATHS) aka Soulcentric Developmental Wheel Intensive
4) Wild Mind Mirroring Training (WMMT)

5) Wild Mind Training Residential (5 days) (WMTR)

Note: You must complete the WMI & CMI, prior to the WMMT

You must complete the WMI, CMI, NATHS, and WMMT prior to the WMTR.

We ask that you read Wild Mind before applying to the WMTP and that you read Nature and the Human Soul before attending the NATHS Intensive.

Practicum Requirement (one of the following, after completing all Program Components):

1) Use of the NBMHP with individuals in your setting (not in a group format) and designed in conjunction with and supervised by an Animas Wild Mind mentor. For example, therapy, coaching, counseling, mentoring, or other PHDG services either in an office or, preferably, in a nature-based setting, with recorded sessions later reviewed with your Animas mentor.

2)* Produce, promote, co-create, and co-guide, with an Animas guide, your own Wild Mind-based group intensive in your own community. Note: this should be undertaken only if you have group facilitation skills — and also promotional skills so you can ensure the intensive will occur! *Your intensive may be co-promoted on the Animas website. This could be a single 4-day program, four 1-day programs, two 2-day programs, etc.

3) Your own idea — surprise us! Supervised by an Animas Wild Mind mentor.

4) Participate as an assistant clan leader (ACL) on an Animas Wild Mind Intensive. (These opportunities are rare and require your completion of the WMTP. This option depends upon available space for ACLs, guide availability, number of enrolled participants, location, and other logistics.) For reference, Animas typically offers 2 or 3 Wild Mind Intensives per year. If you believe you could promote and fill a Wild Mind Intensive in your own watershed, please contact us. If that works, you’d be creating your own ACL opportunity on an Animas Wild Mind Intensive.

A Level 1 certificate is awarded upon completion of the core components and the practicum.

Levels 2 and 3 of Wild Mind Training:

In response to our trainees’ desires to cultivate additional skills in the Wild Mind Work, we have created an advanced training curriculum that leads to a Level 2 Certificate. Level 2 offers additional intensives and trainings in Soul-centric Dreamwork, Shadow Work, and Deep Imagination Work.

Level 3 adds the Group Facilitation in Nature program. Level 3 graduates are eligible to apply for membership in the Wild Mind Guides Guild.

The newly formed Wild Mind Guides Guild is more fully described in another document.

Briefly, Members of the Wild Mind Guides Guild will have their names on the Wild Mind Book Website Guild Page. In addition, they receive eligibility to be a co-guide on Animas Wild Mind Intensives when needed or that are self-produced and promoted.

Please email Brian Stafford at [email protected] for more details about the guild.


1. WMTP Application Fee: $50 (non-refundable, one-time fee)

2. Upon acceptance to WMTP: $400 WMTP Administrative Fee (non-refundable, one-time fee). This fee helps offset administrative costs of managing WMTP.

3. Programs Fees: For current program fees, please see the specific program listings on the website.


We are applying CEU credits for nearly all PHDG disciplines for the trainings and are working to receive them for the WMI, CMI, NATHS, and additional trainings.

We are also seeking partners for undergraduate and graduate academic credit. Please inquire, if interested.

Continuing Education credits, Academic Credits, and practicum support incur additional fees.


If you’ve met the minimum eligibility requirements and are ready to apply, please download the WMTP APPLICATION.
Questions? Please contact us at 970-259-0585, [email protected], or [email protected].

Note: The Wild Mind Training Program is not primarly intended as a path to becoming an Animas guide, although sometimes we’ll have openings for new guides. Rather, the primary intention is to support you to incorporate wholing and Self-healing practices into your professional practice or in your community more generally.


Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,
to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,
the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver
running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants
cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.
This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;
you can never be dispossessed.

— Derek Walcott