August 13, 2020 § 2 Comments
Just before lockdown my son made these six short videos on ‘Coping with the climate crisis’ in which I talk about the emotional dimensions of people’s responses and how we can support each other through what are often difficult and traumatic experiences.
1: Disavowal or everyday denial
2: Climate anxiety or climate distress
3: Loss and grief
4: Supporting others
5: Hope and despair
6: Climate journeys – can the climate crisis transform your life?
Do link to and share the videos if you find them useful.
March 14, 2019 § 2 Comments
It’s a long time since I’ve posted anything, so here’s an update. I spent most of 2017 recovering from a serious illness and major operation but 2018 saw me fully recovered and active once more with various aspects of climate change and psychology.
2018 proved a year in which climate change returned to a small measure of public prominence, prompted in part by the disturbing hot summer which swept across Europe, in part by the increasingly alarming predictions made by scientists and in part by the renewal of political activism in the launch of Extinction Rebellion.
Any serious political change requires a huge broad-based movement however and that in turn requires people to be able to talk about this frightening and distressing subject in ways which help others relinquish the defences they have used to protect themselves from it. In 2018 I returned to running a workshop I first offered back in 2007, ‘Conversations about Climate Change: talking with family, friends and colleagues’. It focuses on the difficulties people so often experience when the subject enters conversation – feeling silenced, pigeon-holed, embarrassed or upset. I ran it for the Scottish Climate Psychology Alliance in April, for ‘Eco-Savvy’ on Arran in June, for the Centre for Alternative Technology’s Members’ Conference in October and for Letchworth Transition group in November.
2018 also saw the publication of the paper I wrote with Paul Hoggett ‘Engaging with Climate Change: Comparing the Cultures of Science and Activism’ which is available here or by emailing me direct.
More recently I’ve been involved with Chris Robertson in facilitating the Climate Psychology Alliance’s ‘Through the Door’ workshops for therapists and counsellors who want to bring their skills to the climate movement. I was also very pleased to be invited to deliver one of the lectures in this year’s Cambridge Climate Lecture Series. It was a big departure for CCLS to include something other than science in the series and I was delighted to be made so welcome. My title was ‘Climate, Psychology, Conversation: the unconscious dynamics of how we talk about climate change’ and you can view the lecture here. Even more enjoyable was the accompanying workshop which I ran for Sixth-Formers called ‘Finding your Voice’ about climate change.
I’m hoping I can offer both these workshops to more audiences in the future.
April 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
Research has given us a lot of good ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ on how to communicate about climate change. It tells us that:
- information doesn’t by itself change people’s minds
- confirmation bias means that people seek out facts that confirm their existing views
- people find it hard to understand risks that are not immediate and tangible
- fear appeals have mixed effects
However we rarely talk about the inner state of the person we are communicating with and how this relates to the creative, innovative, whole-hearted and committed responses we need. If we are to help people avoid the flight into false certainty and paranoia that I wrote about last month, what kind of emotional state should be trying to foster? « Read the rest of this entry »
November 1, 2011 § 1 Comment
The idea of the ‘safe space’ is crucial to psychotherapy. What relevance does it have to climate change?
Listening and respect
Many people find it hard to accept the reality of climate change and the need for both urgent action and widespread socio-political change. This is often an emotional rather than an intellectual problem: climate change threatens much that people hold dear. ‘Safe spaces’ where people can come to terms with what may happen, the changes that are needed and their own feelings about it can be crucial in helping them take action both in their personal lives and politically, as citizens. « Read the rest of this entry »