Welcome. My name is Van Thi Diep. I am an environmental philosopher, scholar, and creative.


about me

empath and visionary thinker

For most of my life, I’ve yearned to belong. Feeling out of place wherever I went, I believed that there was something wrong with me. But it turned out, what I thought was a “curse” is actually the blessing of being human—to feel the world deeply. With the ability to intuitively feel people’s emotional pain and make sense of the wounding through deep contemplation, I can hold space for a better world with the knowing that potentials can become reality.

See below for the different areas of my work or read more about my story.

phenomenological research

finding togetherness in our brilliance

Phenomenological research is like stargazing with human stories. Each individual story may seem like a speck of dust in the dark night, but together in our glimmering starlight, they become meaningful constellations. The constellation patterns (i.e., research topics) that I find most attractive, and the ones I seek out, are the inconspicuous ones that reveal our deepest relationship with nature, both internally and externally.

nature and forest therapy

Belonging to inner and outer nature

Just be. Be yourself. A community surrounds you. This is the message I intuited from the moss that surrounded me at a forest therapy walk. These wise words are also what I believe to be the essence of practicing forest and nature therapy: Creating time and space to feel, to be witnessed, to be loved, and fundamentally, to just be. I am grateful to facilitate these experiences, because, as a forest therapy guide, I can give myself the permission to release control and surrender to the process of nature.

creative writing and design

transmuting pain into beauty

Let’s face it, being human can be such a pain. But even if we cannot ignore the darkness of humanity, in-between suffering and healing are also poignant moments of awareness. These moments remind us that there is beauty in learning to be human. When pain becomes beauty, we are metaphorically growing a garden of flowers out of what was once barren soil. Therefore, my creativity is the overflow of my inner garden making its way out into the world.

pink waterlily in low light

My Credentials

What makes learning to be human so special is that we can get certificates and degrees for many things but none for this particular learning journey. Yet, even though I believe that our most authentic form of knowing is informal, intuitive, and experiential, I have, ironically, spent much of my lifetime in formal educational systems.

In-between this yin and yang dance of learning to be human, I’ve come to realise that education can be both the stable foundation towards expanding personal wisdom and the test we must learn to unlearn throughout our lives. Below are the double-edge swords of knowledge that have enriched and tested me on my path so far in learning to be human:

  • Certified Forest Therapy Guide – (Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides & Programs, 2023)
  • PhD in Environmental Studies (York University, 2021)
  • Certified Coach Practitioner (Certified Coaches Federation, 2020)
  • Human Design Specialist Certification – Level 2 (Quantum Alignment System, 2020)
  • Year-Long Training in Ecopsychology (with Andy Fisher, PhD, 2020)
  • Master of Arts in Humanities (York University, 2015) Master of Landscape Architecture (University of Toronto, 2007)
  • Bachelor of Architectural Science (Ryerson University, NKA Toronto Metropolitan University, 2004)

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