Smiley Movement logo

The climate psychologists offering free help

Words by Smiley Team

The climate crisis is widely understood to be the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. It’s only natural then, that this will affect our mental health. To help people deal with the emotions they are likely to face, a group of climate-aware psychologists are offering support with a deep understanding of the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves.

The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) brings together hundreds of psychologists who have engaged with climate science and research into the human causes of climate change. They combine this knowledge with different approaches to therapy in order to help people deal with climate-related mental health issues.

Dr Rebecca Nestor from the Board of Directors of CPA tells Smiley News: “It's vital that we are all able to talk to someone who listens, who doesn’t dismiss your feelings about climate change as something particular to your own mental makeup. Because the reality is that the climate emergency is real and so it’s vital that your feelings towards it are validated.”

The alliance offers support including training and workshops for groups, three free one-to-one therapy sessions for individuals, discussion groups and tailored support for young people and mothers.

A biodiversity of emotions

Working for the CPA, Rebecca runs the discussion groups, known as climate cafes. Participants in these sessions share a huge array of emotions - not just eco-anxiety, as is most commonly discussed, but also fear, numbness, guilt and rage.

“What research tells us is that people's feelings are made worse when they're not taken seriously and there hasn’t been sufficient action to tackle climate change. This is particularly difficult for young people,” Rebecca explains. 

To deal with the confusion and emotional distress, the climate cafes provide a space where everyone’s feelings are recognised and respected.

“Anecdotally, one of the main things people take away from these sessions is that they are not alone in their feelings,” she says. “Putting feelings into words helps people cope. You may not necessarily say much yourself, but by listening to others expressing feelings that you may have too, then that's incredibly powerful.”

To keep the sessions inclusive, the alliance avoids focusing on the actions people are taking and ensures sessions are led by people of diverse backgrounds, ages and ethnicities. 

Who are climate psychologists?

Climate psychologists are specialists in various areas of psychology who feel prepared to help others deal with climate change because they have worked through their own responses to the emergency, Rebecca explains.

This includes several learning stages. They have processed the devastating fact that our economic system, premised on infinite growth, is incompatible with life on a finite planet. They’ve recognised that the richest 10% are the most responsible for the emissions causing climate change, and they understand that we, therefore, need systemic change to effectively tackle the issue.

In reaction to this colossal challenge, members of the alliance have processed their own emotions, distinguishing their own personal psychology from their responses to the threat to life on Earth. It’s only through this long learning journey that they feel prepared to support others dealing with their emotions around climate change.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To help more people access invaluable help dealing with the climate emergency, donate to the Climate Psychology Alliance.

JOIN: If you’re interested to explore the psychological implications of climate change, become a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…