Talking about climate change and eco-anxiety in psychotherapy: A qualitative analysis of patients’ experiences.

Psychotherapy, Vol 59(4), Dec 2022, 606-615; doi:10.1037/pst0000449

Citizens’ worries about climate change are often realistic and legitimate. Simultaneously, these worries can also become a source of distress so severe as to impair everyday functioning and prompt someone to seek psychotherapy. These emergent phenomena are often referred to as “climate anxiety” or “climate depression” by the popular culture and by patients themselves. Psychotherapists around the world report seeing more and more patients who report that they are experiencing distress due to climate change. This article documents a study that involved engaging 10 Swedish adults who sought help for climate change-related emotional distress in in-depth conversations about their psychotherapeutic experience. This was followed by analyzing accounts of psychotherapeutic processes to understand patients’ experiences and outcomes. Interviews were examined with interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Therapists’ knowledge about climate change and competence in coping with it, validation of climate change-related emotions, and learning to manage these emotions were salient aspects of psychotherapy from the patients’ perspective. Connecting psychotherapy to personal values and action orientation, resulting in an enhanced sense of meaning and sense of community, was also considered important. In conclusion, based on participants’ experience, we offer practical guidance for practitioners. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *