The Climate Crisis in Psychotherapy

People generally imagine a Psychotherapist or Counsellor as someone who sits quietly. This might involve them being silent for long periods of time, as they take in whatever their client is bringing that week. Often, this imagined idea translates into one of the myths I hear most often when I tell people what my job is: ‘You just listen to people all day, then?’.

Silence at the Psychotherapist’s end, combined with generally not disclosing anything about themselves, means that clients imagine lots of things about who this person is. Wondering about your Psychotherapist in this way is natural, especially as in the rest of our interactions we look for certain cues or information from others in order to feel comfortable enough to talk.

How does that change when there’s a big headline in the news, perhaps in your local community? One news topic that is currently prevalent is the extreme, and ever-changing weather as the earth’s temperature rises due to relentless human activity on our planet.

A Shared World

Psychotherapists live in the same world as the people they work with, and are therefore equally affected by the climate crisis. This means the therapeutic space is no longer one where the client knows nothing about the person they’re working with, which can feed into exploring the ways humans need to connect to each other as they face this shared reality.

As with any issue a person brings, a Psychotherapist’s role is to enable clients to live in the world by firstly providing a place to consider new ways of being. The physical room also becomes a practice ground to try new things, and feel more confident in applying them to wider life.

I believe this is especially the case given that we’re having to consider new ways of thinking, living, and being on our planet. All of us will have to change how we connect to the changing world around us plus the relationship between our planet, others, and ourselves.

As a Psychotherapist working within a relational framework, this will transform the idea of connection, and collaboration as experienced between two people in a confidential space.

New Conversations

The other aspect of re-configuring the therapeutic relationship within the context of the climate crisis means actively working with hopelessness, helplessness, and despair in new ways. We will all feel these, sometimes together, in our lives as they are part of being human. But being human on this planet, and being so aware of the state of our shared home, means that these feelings are in the atmosphere.

People deal with these feelings in different ways. Some are depleted by them, and some are energised. In any case there is the opportunity for action somewhere, at some point. Perhaps being supported by others when we feel unable to act is part of practising a new way of living, which can be extended to other aspects of our mental health too.

If you’d like to explore working together, I’d be pleased to hear from you. You can get in touch here.

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