What is Climate Aware Therapy?

climate psychology alliance climate-aware holistic Sep 06, 2021

As a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance of North America, providing climate-aware therapy for mothers is a specialty and a passion.

But what is climate-aware therapy? To use CPA's own words:

"A climate-aware therapist is a professionally-trained psychotherapist who recognizes the current climate crisis both as a globe-spanning challenge to the sustainability of human and non-human life on Earth and as a deeply personal challenge with many psychological impacts. These personal and psychological factors extend to individuals', families', and communities' sense of safety, meaning, and purpose. A climate-aware therapist accepts that new forms of distress are arising as a result of global crisis, and believes that the professional training of the allied mental health therapy and counseling community can attend to this distress. The climate-aware therapist commits to delivering the highest-quality mental health services to all clientele, while specifically engaging with the many dimensions of climate-related distress, which can include cognitive, affective, interpersonal, societal, and existential repercussions. The climate-aware therapist responds to individuals and groups in a humanistic, balanced, and compassionate manner while acknowledging the legitimacy and complicated nature of the human response to the climate crisis.
The climate-aware therapist does not presume the presence or absence of climate-related distress in their clientele, but understands how relationships to nature, living systems, and the scientific evidence and media coverage of climate change can be useful for integrating and resolving psychological conflicts and stressors. The shared goal of climate-aware therapy is to utilize our unique psychotherapeutic abilities and techniques to meet multiple, mounting mental health crises, which reflect the overall increasing instability of our planetary system."

That's a lot to say that I am open to the ways climate- and environment-related content can affect a mother's mental health and wellbeing. I am available to the effects of the environmental system we live in the initial assessment and ongoing treatment. I also listen to how other systems, such as our families and human community, shape mothers' subjective inner experiences.

Over the last few years, the number of mothers resonating with environmental assessment questions has dramatically increased. Through this experience, I no longer think it is responsible to continue traditional counseling's exclusion of the environment in our work.

I now train clinicians to incorporate the environment into their work with mothers. I am also refining a developmental model to explain and support a mother's unique experience of eco-related distress in the transition into motherhood at this time in our planet's history.

As I always say, our mental health is both personal and planetary. The environment affects us just as we affect the environment. Suppose you are experiencing uncomfortable emotions related to climate change and environmental destruction in your community or beyond. In that case, a holistic approach to mental health that includes these aspects of your experience is vital.

Reach out if you would like to discuss your concerns and schedule a session with me or another climate-aware therapist in New Mexico or Texas!

Listen to the Mother Praxis podcast, exploring how we can challenge norms and reenvision motherhood for ourselves, our families, and our planet. 

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