Update from the Climate Crisis SIG

What’s in a name?

You may have noticed that we have changed the SIG name from ‘Climate Change SIG’ to ‘Climate Crisis SIG’. There are interesting ongoing discussions about terminology and language when it comes to climate change and the psychological implications of the terms we use, whether they cause people to feel reassured, alarmed, to shut down or to move to positive action. We decided to ‘walk through the door’ (as I heard someone helpfully describe it), i.e., say what it is. In the resources section, you can find a few articles to reflect on this. In particular, I found the ‘People Get Real’ publication very interesting.

Using our collective power

Professional bodies are increasingly publishing position papers and policies about the climate emergency, in particular recognising its impact on health and mental health. Recently, the BPS added its voice.

The Climate Minds Coalition

The SIG has been busy linking in with an emerging coalition of mental health professional bodies and organisations called the Climate Minds Coalition. The purpose of this coalition is gradually to amplify our united professional voice towards UK policymakers, parliamentarians, the media and the public on the climate emergency and mental health. Some of the organisations currently contributing to the coalition include: BPS, BACP, UKCP, BAAT, ACT, BPC, CPA, RCPsych, Mind, Place2Be, Student Minds and many more. The current focus of the coalition is to finalise and take the consensus statement to our respective professional organisations, asking them to sign up to it. The SIG Committee has now forwarded this to the Board, inviting them to sign and to consider developing our own position paper.

This will enable a more collective voice and action to emerge from within the mental health professional communities to call out the climate emergency, communicate more authentically about the mental health impact of climate change, and highlight the need for research, training and interventions within this field.

The Climate Minds Coalition does not yet have its own website but is working towards an official launch, so watch this space.

Increasing our awareness as therapists

After the successful climate café facilitated by the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) back in September, we will now be taking this forward with a view to rotating facilitators from within the EMDR community to help us increase our skills as well. There are a number of us who have done the CPA training and have experience attending and facilitating groups. Please note that each group will be limited to 12 participants (including two facilitators). It is neither a therapy group nor a climate-problem-solving group. It is predominantly a feeling and sharing space to connect with our own reactions to the climate crisis. We see this space as an integral part of preparing to work with clients, as we are all in it, and only by connecting with our own stance towards the crisis can we be better placed to be present with our clients’ eco-distress. To attend, you will need to book on Eventbrite; there is no charge. We will notify you of the upcoming events via our email newsletter.

Working with clients

We had a successful SIG meeting in October, where we heard from EMDR therapist Mishma Kumar-Jonson about their work in Australia with clients experiencing eco-trauma and distress. This led to further conversation and reflection about what we are seeing in the therapy room, what aspects of EMDR are best placed to help clients with eco-distress, and how we might consider adaptations to the way we work. Further SIG meetings will continue to make space for discussions and reflections on this topic, but in the meantime, the committee has responded by launching a survey to assess what EMDR therapists are currently experiencing when working with clients with eco-distress.

Therapist resources

Please take a look at our resources page in this publication. I have curated some of my favourites which enable therapists and mental health professionals across a range of modalities to engage with their own thoughts and feelings about the climate breakdown and consider how it both changes and reinforces aspects of their therapeutic work.

If you would like to get more involved in any of the above three strands of the SIG or have an interest in facilitating a climate café, please reach out; we would love to hear from you.

Martina Leeven The Climate Crisis SIG Chair Email me at mleevenpsychologist@gmail.com