1st Edition

Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown

    304 Pages 8 Color & 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    304 Pages 8 Color & 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    304 Pages 8 Color & 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book introduces readers to the known psychological aspects of climate change as a pressing global concern and explores how they are relevant to current and future clinical practice.

    Arguing that it is vital for ecological concerns to enter the therapy room, this book calls for change from regulatory bodies, training institutes and individual practitioners. The book includes original thinking and research by practitioners from a range of perspectives, including psychodynamic, eco-systemic and integrative. It considers how our different modalities and ways of working need to be adapted to be applicable to the ecological crises. It includes Voices from people who are not practitioners about their experience including how they see the role of therapy. Chapters deal with topics from climate science, including the emotional and mental health impacts of climate breakdown, professional ethics and wider systemic understandings of current therapeutic approaches. Also discussed are the practice-based implications of becoming a climate-aware therapist, eco-psychosocial approaches and the inextricable links between the climate crises and racism, colonialism and social injustice.

    Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown will enable therapists and mental health professionals across a range of modalities to engage with their own thoughts and feelings about climate breakdown and consider how it both changes and reinforces aspects of their therapeutic work.


    Judith Anderson, Tree Staunton, Jenny O’Gorman and Caroline Hickman 


    Voice 1 T-Rex vs. TMX Cartoon

    Emily Kelsall


    Section One: The Trouble We’re In


    Chapter 1 Facing Difficult Climate Truths

    Peter Kalmus


    Voice 2 It’s hot as fuck and I need to rest my eyes

    Fehinti Balogun


    Chapter 2 The Mental Health and Emotional Impacts of Climate Breakdown: Insights from Climate Psychology 

    Judith Anderson and Rebecca Nestor


    Voice 3 The heartbreak of rivers barely flowing

    Shelot Masithi


    Chapter 3 Revisiting Ethics in the Context of Climate Breakdown

    Jenny O’Gorman


    Voice 4 Timothy Morton – talking about climate agony, trauma and activism


    Section Two: Systemic Understandings


    Chapter 4 How Wide is the Field? Psychotherapy, Capitalism and the More Than Human World

    Steffi Bednarek


    Chapter 5 Climate Distress through the Lens of the Power Threat Meaning Framework

    Gareth Morgan


    Voice 5 Disability and climate anxiety

    Helen Leonard-Williams


    Chapter 6 Deep Democracy: World Out There – World in Here

    Iona Fredenburgh and Sue Milner


    Chapter 7 Rehearsing Radical Care: Motherhood in a Climate Crisis

    Celia Turley and Jo McAndrews


    Voice 6 Becoming an activist parent

    Chloe Naldrett


    Section Three: Becoming a Climate Aware Therapist

    Chapter 8 Climate Aware Therapy with Children and Young People to Navigate the Climate and Ecological Crisis 

    Caroline Hickman


    Voice 7 Climate Anxiety has taught me this, so far …

    T.M. Walshe


    Chapter 9 Eco-anxiety in the Therapy Room: Affect, Defences and Implications for Practice

    Trudi Macagnino


    Chapter 10 Climate Silence in the Consulting Room: Waiting for Help to Come

    Paula Conway


    Voice 8 Activist journey

    Elouise M. Mayall


    Chapter 11 ‘Climate Mania’ 

    Garret Barnwell


    Chapter 12 Climate Sorrow: Discerning Various Forms of Climate Grief and Responding to Them as a Therapist 

    Panu Pihkala


    Chapter 13 Coming to Our Senses: Turning Towards the Body

    Tree Staunton 


    Voice 9 I want to fly

    Frankie (pseudonym)


    Section Four: The Ecological Self


    Chapter 14 The Zone of Encounter in Therapy and Why It Matters Now   

    Kelvin Hall 


    Chapter 15 Rewilding Therapy

    Nick Totton


    Voice 10 Saving our children by bringing back beavers

    Eva Bishop


    Chapter 16 Transforming Our Inner and Outer Landscapes 

    Leslie Davenport


    Chapter 17 The Spiral of The Work that Reconnects

    Chris Johnstone and Rosie Jones


    Voice 11 Wings of Hope

    Will Baxter


    Section Five: Community and Social Approaches


    Chapter 18 Beyond the Ego and Towards Complexity through Social Dreaming

    Julian Manley Wendy Hollway and Halina Pytlasinska


    Chapter 19 ‘Ways of Being’ When Facing Difficult Truths: Exploring the Contribution of Climate Cafés to Climate Crisis Awareness

    Gillian Broad


    Chapter 20 The ‘Ticking Clock Thing’: Climate Trauma in Organisations

    Rebecca Nestor 


    Chapter 21 Turning Towards the Tears of the World: Practices and Processes of Grief and Never-endings

    Jo Hamilton


    Chapter 22 The Psychological Work of Being with the Climate Crisis

    Chris Robertson


    Voice 12 How does climate breakdown make me feel? 

    Maddie Budd


    Judith Anderson is a Jungian psychotherapist and psychiatrist.

    Tree Staunton is a UKCP Honorary Fellow and a Registered Body Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Trainer.

    Jenny O’Gorman is a queer, disabled Psychodynamic Counsellor, writer and activist.

    Caroline Hickman is a psychotherapist in clinical practice and lecturer at the University of Bath.

    ‘Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown’ deftly uncovers the psychic ruptures and entanglements embodied by people’s experiences of living with climate change. It highlights the demands that these experiences raise for contemporary therapeutic practice. A beautiful synergy of head and heart, this book combines arresting voices of lived experience with the wisdom of seasoned psychologists to provoke, challenge and enlighten. I recommend it for all who wish to acquaint themselves with psychology’s potential to support healing, empowerment, and deep social transformations for sustainability.'

    Dr Charles Ogunbode, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham; Associate Editor at Global Environmental Psychology

    ‘Climate-aware therapists hold the most terrifying thoughts and feelings that people are experiencing on the planet today, as personal histories of trauma and hardship collide with escalating climate traumas and institutional abuses of power. This volume is a dazzling investigation of how these specialists care for themselves, their clients, and the world, as well as how therapists can help raise collective critical consciousness that aids people in not only coping but acting in turbulent times.’

    Britt Wray, PhD, Author of Generation Dread and Director of the Special Initiative on Climate Change and Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford Medicine

    ‘As we navigate the many challenges of the Anthropocene, Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown couldn’t be more timely. It is an essential and insightful resource for practitioners and citizens alike.’

    Tori Tsui is a climate justice organiser from Hong Kong who is now based in Bristol and the author of It’s Not Just You and organiser with Unite for Climate Action, EarthPercent, Climate Live and Stop Rosebank

    ‘The book offers evidence and insights from climate activists and mental health experts emphasising how climate change impacts people’s mental health. I appreciate how this book acknowledges the voices of those who disproportionately face the brunt of climate change and the injustices that it increasingly creates. Indeed, mental health professionals have a vital role in collectively addressing the existential threats of climate change, empowering people, and bringing hope to the future.’  

    John Jamir Benzon R. Aruta, PhD, Environmental Psychologist in the Global South, Associate Professor, De La Salle University, Philippines

    ‘Engaging with global climate change is a new and wide territory for mental health professionals. For those seeking experienced guides, the authors in this timely volume provide an inspiring range of ethical, clinical, social, political and spiritual perspectives on climate-aware practice.’  

    Thomas Doherty, PsyD, Licenced Psychologist, US

    Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown is a groundbreaking, well-grounded and utterly necessary book. Practitioner’s chapters intertwine with activist voices to produce a multi-faceted exploration of mind/body responses to climate and ecological breakdown, steeped in honesty, compassion, wisdom and radical insights. Out of this emerges a lively exploration of the way psychotherapies rooted within ecological consciousness and systemic analyses open up possibilities for mutually entwined healing for psyche, society and planet. A deeply moving and inspiring read.’

    Dr Sally Gillespie, Jungian Psychotherapist, member of Psychology for a Safe Climate, Australia, author of Climate Crisis and Consciousness

    ‘This is a thoughtfully curated, thought- provoking and highly accessible collection of works from many different voices on being alive as a human and therapist at this time. Facing into the reality and impacts of climate change, ecological devastation and social injustice is not easy but we do have a role to play – and that means rethinking a lot of what we took for granted in our practice and who or what it is we serve in the 21st century. A hugely enriching, enlivening book.’  

    Linda Aspey, BACP Fellow, member of the Climate Psychology Alliance, founding member of the Climate Coaching Alliance, and co-editor of Holding the Hope: Reviving Psychological & Spiritual Agency in the Face of Climate Change

    ‘The current ecological crises and climate breakdown are symptoms of our inability to evolve our human consciousness.  All Psychotherapists, psychologists and coaches need to turn their skills to this urgent task and this book has much to offer in this endeavour.  Do read it and evolve your practice.’

    Professor Peter Hawkins, Co-author of Ecological and Climate Conscious Coaching and founder of the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling and Renewal Associates

    ‘This is an essential read for trainee therapists, providing information and tools to respond to the climate emergency both inside and outside the therapy room. The book combines scientific facts, cutting-edge research, and moving personal accounts ranging from young children to practitioners, to meet the urgent need to become climate-aware therapists. The wide diversity of voices, from mapping eco-anxiety and climate grief, to offering approaches for hope and activism, will act as an indispensable guide as we navigate an uncertain future.’

    Laura Speers, Foundation course, Bath Centre for Psychotherapy & Counselling

    ‘This brilliant work is not only for therapists but is also a worthwhile read for all literate humans in a time of climate breakdown. It is comprehensive and reaches into the depth of ecology and the human psyche. For our network “Global Climate Psychology for a Just Future” it is a real treasure to have.’

    Dr. med. Monika Krimmer, Psychoanalyst, Psy4Future, Germany

    ‘Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown is a necessary response to an uncertain and precarious present and future. There is an ethical imperative that runs through this book, which callings upon individual therapists and their regulators to face up to the effects of climate and environmental crisis and to then act. In braiding together the insights of therapists and the voices of those beyond the therapeutic professions, a kaleidoscope of diverse knowledges emerges, which is underpinned by a commitment to naming the relationship between climate crisis and social injustice. This is then Aa timely book for all therapists that will assist their development and work with clients.’ 

    Dr Jamie Bird, Art Therapist and Senior Lecturer, University of Derby, UK; author of Social Action Art Therapy in a Time of Crisis

    ‘What a cornucopia of voices, perspectives, concepts and practices and yet Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown at the same time manages to maintain a marvellous coherence! This wonderful volume demonstrates the breadth, vitality, intellectual rigour  and critical edge of climate psychology. It will be a crucial resource in the difficult times to come, and not just for therapists and mental health professionals but also for engaged citizens seeking to make sense of their own experience of climate breakdown.’

     Paul Hoggett, Co-founder of CPA, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, UWE

    ‘Being A Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown is invaluable for the expanding field of "climate aware" clinicians. Contributors to this multi-generational, multi-disciplinary collection address the political, ideological, and psychological contradictions embedded within the profession: the individualism, the pathologizing, the erasure of the more-than-human world, the untenable boundary between the "personal" and the "political."  With conviction, the editors urgently call for and offer guidance in professional repurposing -- helping us all "stay present" to the planetary crisis.’

    Rebecca Weston, LCSW & JD and Co-President, Climate Psychology Alliance - North America