Bringing climate change into awareness: presenting the issues
Tree Staunton, Stroud-based body psychotherapist, and I have been exploring ways of facilitating honest and uncomfortable discussion among fellow psychotherapists about the reality of climate change and what this will mean for us as a species.
As you may have read elsewhere on my site, I have personally reached the conclusion, on the basis of very clear science and very clear psychology, that this 21st century will very probably (as in, almost certainly) see the end of our present human civilisation, and the death of most of the planet’s human (and tragically also non-human) inhabitants.
So, how do we address this as therapists? The following article was written by Tree for publication in the autumn edition of Transformations, the quarterly journal of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility.
We would like to share our thoughts and learning about presenting the issue of climate change to groups of people. This is very much a work in progress. Mark presented a workshop at the Psychotherapy and Politics Conference in Glasgow in May; Mark and Tree offered an evening to a network of therapists and counsellors in Gloucestershire,in October, and Mark recently offered a workshop to the therapists at the Cotswold Counselling Service.
We would describe this as a global learning curve – Mark commented that a collective learning was taking place. Just as he and the most recent group were able to break new ground, so we can assume that other groups in other parts of the world, at the same moment in time, are also finding new ways to approach the task, to bring new ways of thinking and being with the issues that face us.
In each of the presentations, Mark’s Climate Change Attitudes Questionnaire was used to open up discussion of feelings and attitudes. With our joint presentation we wrote in the blurb ‘We promise an uncomfortable and thought-provoking evening with very few answers but a lot of extremely important questions.’ Numbers were not great in either of the last two and the general feedback from organizers seems to be that people do not want to come and to face such difficult truths.
We are discovering that things CAN be faced and progress can be made if we provide the proper containment and holding structures. The evening jointly run provided some issues to process between us, as Mark was distracted and left early, and I was left feeling that the ‘holding’ was not adequate.