Climate Psychology

Mental health practitioners have an invaluable role to play at this pivotal time in human history. An article in American Psychologist went so far as to assert that, “Psychologists have an ethical obligation to take immediate steps to minimize the psychological harm associated with climate change, to help to reduce global disparities in climate impacts, and to continually improve their climate related interventions through coordinated programs of research and practice that draw on the rich diversity of psychologists’ skills and training.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

With close to 98% of climate scientists in agreement that human behavior significantly contributes to climate crisis, psychology is well positioned to make a significant and positive contribution to assisting with a behavioral shift. Psychological perspectives need to be at the table of interdisciplinary conversations generating effective climate solutions. Psychology is powerful in addressing the emotional underpinnings of climate denial, understanding motivators for change, identifying the most effective communication strategies, as well as building resiliency when individuals and communities are faced with immediate and long term climate chaos that provoke trauma, grief, anxiety and depression.

Being part of effective change does not necessarily mean taking to the streets in protest or signing petitions, although those do make significant social contributions. There are many ways to make a difference if we use our ecological imaginations.

Individuals: I offer resiliency tools for addressing the eco-anxiety and eco-grief of climate chaos, whether resulting from high impact trauma, or the existential experience of what is occurring on a global scale, in addition to exploring ways of living an ecoharmonious life. Together we explore ways to move through the ambivalence that arises when we want to make lifestyle changes but are snagged by opposing needs and desires.

Therapists, Healthcare Providers, Activists, Coaches, and Universities: I provide curriculum, retreats and training tailored to the organization’s needs. This article, “The Role of Systemic Therapists in an Era of Environmental Crisis” describes in more detail the focus of training mental health providers.

Community Talks and Workshops:  Everyone has an important role in the great shift that is occurring at this time. It is especially valuable to enliven creative dialogue that have emotional intelligence with interdisciplinary approaches.

Governmental Agencies and NGOs: Consultations and training can clarify and improve effective actions with communication tools and leadership practices.

FREE RESOURCE: Emotional Resiliency Toolkit for Climate Work is a handbook with brief practices that can be used by any individual, advocacy, non-profit or governmental group to build resiliency and emotional intelligence into this challenging work. It is available to anyone, and can be distributed widely. Check back periodically, as additional practices will be added over time.