Responding to climate change in therapeutic practice


Date(s) - 29/04/2022
9:00 am - 4:30 pm


This event focuses on: Supporting people to cope with difficult emotions, find their way to life-affirming action, and engage the imagination with generative possibilities.

In Australia the devastation wrought by catastrophic bushfires, extended drought and the pandemic has moved the climate emergency into our daily lives. We are now at a crossroads, with ecological breakdown threatening personal, societal and planetary wellbeing, and an unprecedented opportunity to restore a more respectful and balanced way of living.

Escalating threats and consequences for future generations can provoke complex emotions such as fear, anxiety, grief, despair and shame, and raise fundamental questions about who we are in our world and how to respond to what we are facing. These are understandable responses and healthy alternatives to numbing and denial, suggestive of deep caring and empathy for each other, for the next generations, and for Earth.

Therapists have a key role to provide safe and compassionate spaces, engaging our skills for working with complex behaviours and states of mind. We can support people to face, feel and cope with challenging emotions, and to do so in a way that they don’t become overwhelmed and disabled by them, or avoid facing the problems in order to avoid the feelings.

In this context therapeutic work means more than just helping people to cope with difficult emotions; it also includes supporting them to find their way to life-affirming action and to engage the imagination with generative possibilities. This can help to untangle cultural conditioning, relieve existential despair, inform realistic hope, and shape generative ways of living and relating.

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