If you Thought Climate Grief was Strange, Meet the ‘Climate Grief’ Therapists
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
If someone is no longer able to function due to their “pre-traumatic” climate grief, a plethora of therapists are offering therapies ranging from “The Great Turning,” a societal transformation from an industrial, growth, and consumer-based society to a more equitable and sustainable one, to collapse-transcendence (fostering psycho-social-spiritual-cultural shifts to accept and live through collapse with some composure and stability).
Group Interventions for Climate Change Distress
From disasters and social disruptions to existential concerns, climate distress groups may not only provide much-needed support to patients but may also help psychiatry’s public health responses.
The climate crisis presents unique and complex challenges to the mental health and wellness of individuals and communities. The need for interventions at a global scale increasingly leads mental health providers to look toward large group interventions. This article outlines a number of the more popular group approaches. It informs psychiatrists about the climate distress groups that our patients may access and advances our understanding of these groups’ methods, which may help psychiatry’s own public health response.
The Work That Reconnects (TWTR) is an approach developed by Joanna Macy, PhD, and is described as a “transformative learning process.”9 TWTR incorporates aspects of deep ecology, systems theory, eco-psychology, Buddhism, and activism. … Instead of turning away from the problem, group members reframe and honor their feelings, and then develop fresh perspectives intended to bring about “The Great Turning,” a societal transformation from an industrial, growth, and consumer-based society to a more equitable and sustainable one.
The Deep Adaptation Forum was developed by Jem Bendell, PhD, after the publication of his paper “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy,”12 which went viral. Deep Adaptation (DA) positions itself outside of mainstream work on climate adaptation in that it assumes inevitable societal breakdown and collapse due to climate change and intentionally challenges the idea that hope should be part of climate change adaptation.
DA seeks to develop so-called collapse-readiness (ie, creating an equitable system for distribution of life essentials such as food, water, energy, and health care) and collapse-transcendence(fostering psycho-social-spiritual-cultural shifts to accept and live through collapse with some composure and stability).
No doubt climate grief suffers will achieve a happier, more adjusted mental state after being offered a choice between accepting the end of the world with a smile, or ditching capitalism and embracing a simple communal sharing mentality.
Interestingly many group leaders advocating rejection of consumerism and acceptance of the coming climate catastrophe appear to accept payment for the services they provide. No doubt the act of handing over money helps propel the healing transformation from consumerist obsessed climate guilt to a simpler more positive mental outlook which involves owning less stuff.