Our Ecotherapy Training Instructors

Ariana Candell, LMFT, R-DMT

Ariana Candell, LMFT, R-DMT, Ecotherapist, is a licensed psychotherapist with 20-plus years experience and a pioneer in the emerging field of Somatic Ecotherapy. For the last decade, she has been an active leader in transforming the field of psychotherapy to include connecting to the natural world as an essential part of healing.

Ariana is founder of The Earthbody Institute, a professional, educational, and transformational forum dedicated to the cultivation of dynamic mutual relationships with the natural world. She is creator of the groundbreaking Professional Ecotherapy Training and Certification Program, now entering its fourth year. She facilitates workshops locally and internationally, including Online Ecotherapy Certificate Programs, Ecotherapy Immersion Programs and consultation groups. She also teaches Ecotherapy seminars as an adjunct professor at John F. Kennedy University.

Ariana believes that developing a consistent nature connection practice with elements of somatic awareness and openness to the sacred can foster a more holistic and balanced way of life. She is devoted to her own daily spiritual practice in nature, and encourages her private clients and students to develop their own practice. In all of her programs, she facilitates creation of a strong Earth-honored community, fulfilling an ancient human need of experiencing a profound connection to the sacredness of all beings.

Ariana is thrilled to be practicing Ecotherapy outdoors in the East Bay hills with more than half of her individual clients, and also brings the power of nature indoors to her private practice in Berkeley. Her main therapeutic influences include Hakomi Mindfulness-Centered Somatic Psychotherapy, Somatic Ecotherapy, Dance Movement Therapy and Earth-based trainings from The School of Lost Borders.

Ryan Van Lenning, MA

Ryan Van Lenning, MA, is an inner and outer wilderness guide, ecotherapist, and teacher. Ryan is certified as an ecotherapist through The Earthbody Institute, trained as a Wilderness Ceremony/Rite-of-Passage Guide through the School of Lost Borders, and is a Certified Wilderness First Responder through Foster Calm. Prior to moving to California 13 years ago, he taught Philosophy, Comparative Religion, and Environmental Justice at Sinclair College in Ohio.

Ryan is passionate about supporting people to re-connect with the wisdom of both inner and outer wild nature, to live their soul callings into the world, and to assist in the work of repairing broken belonging in this time of the Great Turning/Great Composting. Trusting in co-liberation, he is grasped by a wondering: Can we, with wild nature hearts and humble courage, face this Collective Initiation of intersecting social and ecological crises intentionally?

Through Wild Nature Heart, Ryan offers 1-on-1 earth-rooted mentoring, custom wilderness ceremonies/rites-of-passage, ecospiritual courses and workshops, and community Circles of the Great Turning.

Ryan is also a poet and author of Re-Membering: Poems of Earth & Soul and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest. His poem ‘And All the Walls Between Them,’ responding to current immigration policies and social injustices, was recipient of the 2019 Jodi Stutz Poetry Award by Toyon Literary Magazine. His new collections Riverever and One Bright and Real Caress will be released in 2021. He live and works among the forest and rivers in northern California, ancestral Wiyot, Yurok, and Sinkyone lands.

Lili Nakita Kroutilina, LMFT, MA

Lili Nakita Kroutilina, LMFT, MA, Somatic Ecotherapist, is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Somatic Ecotherapist, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, artist, and activist from Sofia, Bulgaria that is currently residing in Berkeley, California. Lili received her Master’s in Counseling from the Institute of Transpersonal Therapy specializing in Expressive Arts and Transpersonal Psychology. Lili graduated from The Earthbody Institute’s 100 hour Professional Ecotherapy training program in 2015 and has worked with Ariana Candell on retreats, workshops, online classes, and curriculums.

She is passionate about connection with the earth, ourselves, and our community. When she was a young girl in Bulgaria, she has fond memories of swimming in the black sea with her family. Immigrating to California as a young girl she found solace in nature whether that was the ocean, mountains, desert, or rivers. Lili cares deeply about protecting the earth as well as the humans inhabiting it. She has worked in community mental health the past 8 years with various populations including children, teens, adults, and elderly. She is highly passionate about working with women’s empowerment, alternative lifestyles, LBGTQ+ community, people of color, immigrants, artists and musicians, spiritual counseling and integration, activists, as well as PTSD/trauma/grief work. Lili also has experience creating and facilitating workshops on a wide range of therapeutic topics. https://www.lilinakita.com/

Niralli D’Costa, LMFT, MA

Niralli D’Costa, LMFT, MA, Somatic Ecotherapist, is a licensed psychotherapist, teacher and practitioner of integrative energy healing modality Syntara System. She believes that everything that we need in order to heal and awaken is available to us in the natural world. Niralli draws upon her long-term study of yoga, meditation, and tantra to support people on their spiritual path and healing journey. She is passionate about serving people who have been marginalized, and she sees social justice as central to our collective liberation, healing, and evolution.

Niralli received her MA from the Somatic Psychology department at John F. Kennedy University and completed her Ecotherapy Certification with The Earthbody Institute in 2013. She has taught at the intersections of social justice, embodied spiritual practice, and nature-based elemental healing at a range of institutions. She has served as adjunct faculty at UC Berkeley, John F. Kennedy University, Syntara System School of Energy Awareness, the Mind Body Therapy Certificate Program at Embodied Philosophy, and currently serves as affiliate faculty in the Spiritual and Depth Psychology Specialization at Antioch University.

In 2013, Niralli founded the Oakland Holistic Psychotherapy Center and practiced beyond her Oakland office, outdoors amidst the redwoods, pine, and oaks of the California Bay Area. In 2018, she relocated to the chaparral and beaches of Southern California where she grew up. She currently practices online and looks forward to the day when she can integrate ecological restoration into her therapeutic group work. Niralli has a passion for creating ritual, transformative, and immersive eco-therapeutic experiences for and with her clients. She is thrilled to come full circle, joining The EarthBody Institute as a teacher. https://www.nirallitara.com/

Kai Siedenburg

Kai Siedenburg is a nature connection guide, Ecotherapist, and poet who is a pioneer in integrating nature awareness and mindfulness as a path to mind-body wellness.  She is passionate about helping people connect with nature as a path to greater peace, joy, and healing in their lives and in the world. 

Kai loves to empower people to find simple ways to connect with the Earth in daily life, to cultivate deeper bonds with wild places, and to access nature-based healing.  Her first book, Poems of Earth and Spirit 70 Poems and 40 Practices to Deepen Your Connection with Naturecelebrates our innate kinship with all life and helps us strengthen that kinship wherever we are.  

As the founder of Our Nature Connection, Kai offers group programs, individual sessions, and consulting services based on a unique approach she calls NatureWise.  Her approach is rooted in deep listening to nature, infused with love for people and the Earth, and shaped by what activist Carolyn Casey calls “a willingness to collaborate with everything.”  

Kai’s work is also is informed by 30-plus years of professional experience developing innovative educational programs and by extensive training and practice in mindfulness, holistic healing, and creative expression.  Prior to founding Our Nature Connection, she spent 25 years leading non-profit campaigns and programs to advance sustainable and socially just food systems.

Kai is profoundly nourished by her deep love of the lands and waters of the Santa Cruz area, where she has lived for more than 30 years.

Amanda Morrison, LMFT, MA

Amanda Morrison, LMFT, MA, Somatic Ecotherapist, is a licensed psychotherapist who weaves earth wisdom and body awareness to help people recover a deeper sense of connection to themselves and the world around them. She has been passionate about the healing power of nature since she left her high tech career in 2002 to explore her own relationship to nature. This life changing pursuit led her down the path of becoming a therapist and focusing on ecopsychology as a vehicle for personal and collective healing.

For the past decade she has specialized in using ecotherapy to help people heal from early childhood trauma and to find long term recovery from addiction and other mental health issues. She is the creator of the Bayside Marin Ecotherapy Program, a premier residential dual-diagnosis treatment center in San Rafael, CA. The program Amanda created uses horticultural therapy and other ecotherapeutic approaches to help people access the wisdom and healing power of nature as part of their recovery from addiction. Previously Amanda worked in the Insight Garden program in San Quentin, where she facilitated ecotherapy groups for incarcerated men serving time in prison.

Amanda graduated from the Somatic Psychotherapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies and has training in various somatic and ecotherapeutic modalities, including: Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), Authentic Movement, Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi, The Work that Reconnects, and various rites of passage practices. In addition to her clinical work, Amanda spent 10 years as an adjunct professor at CIIS, where she taught an experiential ecopsychology course, as well as various other interdisciplinary courses to undergraduate students, with a strong focus on ecopsychology, somatics, and social justice. Her article “Embodying Sentience” was published in the book, Ecotherapy, Healing with Nature in Mind.  Currently, Amanda has a private practice in San Francisco and in the East Bay where she sees clients both in the office and on the trails of the East Bay Regional Parks. Amanda is an avid gardener and hiker. Her own daily nature practice keeps her grounded in her body and connected to the land as she navigates these unpredictable but exciting times we are living through.

Musenge Luchembe Hayslett, LMFT

Musenge Luchembe Hayslett, LMFT, Ecotherapist, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. She has training in Hakomi Mindfulness-Centered Somatic Psychotherapy, Reiki, Acupressure, and Authentic Movement and earned her Ecotherapy Certificate from The Earthbody Institute in 2018. Some populations Musenge has worked with include immigrants and refugees with environmental and war trauma as well as social activists and  people of color in the LBGTQ+ community.

Musenge’s advocacy and appreciation for nature began in the tropical forests that surrounded her childhood home in her native country of Zambia. Musenge moved frequently as child but always made friends with the trees and animals around her until she moved to the United States as teenager. After a difficult transition to California, Musenge was able to reconnect with nature, feel safe in her new home and deepen her spiritual connection to nature through participating in several years of ecotherapy sessions.

Musenge supports her clients in experiencing a similar sense of freedom, creativity and healing at Edwin Warner Park, in Nashville, TN. In addition to Urban Ecotherapy, Musenge also practices Indoor Ecotherapy and Animal Assisted Therapy with her Chihuahua/Terrier, Doobie, as well as provides workshops for other healers.

Musenge enjoys walking the trails with her partner and young son, tending to her indoor and outdoor plants, listening to live music on the grass at Centennial Park, canoeing the Harpeth River and trying out new ethnic dishes. www.musengetherapy.com

Adrián Villasenor-Galarza, PhD

Adrián Villasenor-Galarza, PhD, is passionate about human transformation in service of the living Earth, in order to uncover the regenerative expression of our deep potentials. Nature has served as sustenance and inspiration for Adrián since his early childhood. In his PhD research he advanced an Integral Ecopsychology, fruit of the confluence of Eastern liberation teachings and the study of the human-nature connection, resulting in an elemental framework for self-discovery, healing, and sustainable action.

He’s the founder and director of the Bioalchemy Institute, mostly active in México and Latin America, a pioneering project dedicated to healing the relation between humans and the rest of nature through transformative education for body, mind, and spirit. In addition, Adrián is the seed originator of the Work That Reconnects Latin America, assisting Spanish speaking people from the Americas and beyond to reclaim their true, wild place in the Earthly web of life.

Adrián has offered workshops and talks internationally, both to the general public and academic audiences, for over 16 years and works one-on-one with clients through a contemplative, eco-systemic, and transpersonal lens. He’s also a ritualist whose focus revolves around an animist approach to healing and empowerment. He’s the author of a handful of books that explore a reverential, enchanted, and evolutionary perspective of humans and Earth, and translator into Spanish of Joanna Macy’s seminal book, Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide of the Work That Reconnects.

Adrián’s work is considered a Latin American referent when it comes to Deep Ecology, Ecopsychology, and Earth-based spirituality.

Maraina Montgomery, M.A.

Maraina Montgomery, M.A., is an international educator whose calling empowers institutions and their community members to seek out and maximize global learning opportunities from a reciprocity-centered, ethics-driven, culturally humble way of being. With more than 11 years of experience working overseas and for U.S. postsecondary institutions, Maraina’s work advances justice, access, inclusion, equity, and diversity (JAIDE) as an administrator, teacher, and student.

As a practitioner-scholar, she has published widely on topics that invite educators to reimagine their roles and responsibilities as pathways for discovery and collective transformation, especially when engaging students from diverse, minoritized, and marginalized backgrounds. To do this work, Maraina looks toward the natural world, both for personal fortification, as well as a place of grounding when inviting stakeholders into meaningful and trust-building conversations within the academy.

Born in Colorado and raised throughout the state, Maraina’s passion for nature was cultivated by a mother who also felt a deep connection to the Earth. Taking long walks (hours long!) through the plains near their cabin in Guffey, in search of remains of arrowheads and owl pellets, or throughout the neighborhoods and parks of Denver, resting in and under trees is how she was raised to value time, details, creativity, freedom and many other lessons from the natural world.

Maraina has studied, worked, and/or traveled in more than 35 countries with children, adults, English language learners, and higher education professionals. In each country, she has revolved her lifestyle around building a relationship with the land she has occupied as a cultural guide, spiritual teacher, and source of refuge. Her work with students and faculty at Historically Black Universities and a religious institution have invited her to imagine how applying eco therapeutic practices to support student development, healthy group dynamic development, and cultural humiliation, in preparation for and during overseas programming. She understands the incorporation of nature appreciation and therapy into her work to be a social justice cause that improves the state of existence for humans and the planet we need to be better stewards of.

Maraina celebrates life by joyfully frolicking (also known as jogging) outdoors, hiking near rivers, and tending to the numerous plants she intentionally positions throughout the areas of her daily life. Connect with Maraina.