Overwhelming scientific evidence warns us that unchecked human consumption is threatening the stability and safety of the ecosystem that sustains us. Whether we face it consciously or not, each of us (therapist and client alike) lives with an awareness of this existential threat; yet most continue to live as though it were not the case.
In what varied ways do we to cope, or not cope, with this existential risk? How does psychoanalytic theory contribute to our understanding of how humans relate to this threat to our ultimate “holding environment”? And how can we, as clinicians, help our clients productively process climate-related fear, grief, guilt, dread, anger, hopelessness, and denial? The scope of the climate crisis, and the force of its implications on human experience, call on us as psychotherapists to confront these questions.
In this seminar we will discuss climate change from an analytic perspective, considering how themes of denial, shame, grief, and dread can help us understand the impact of climate change on conscious and unconscious processes. Technical issues such as action as a therapeutic resource and the issue of material vs. psychic reality will be available for further discussion. We will also discuss, more broadly, how a psychoanalytic perspective may help us make sense of, and respond, to the particular crisis that we collectively face as a species.
Andrew Bryant, MPH, LICSW, is a psychotherapist at North Seattle Therapy & Counseling, where one of his clinical focuses is treatment of clients experiencing anxiety, depression or grief related to climate change and ecological loss. Andrew also manages Climate & Mind (www.climateandmind.org) an online resource dedicated to increasing education and discussion about this topic among mental health professionals, the media, and the general public. He is an active member of the Alliance of Climate Therapists-Northwest (ACT-NoW), a group of mental health professionals in the Pacific Northwest seeking to increase dialogue and awareness of the climate crisis and its impact on mental health.
Robert Berley, Ph.D., was startled to recognize his own splitting and dissociation around climate and its traumatic potential. A physics major in college, he confesses to not understand any of the underlying science but trusts scientists when they sound this alarm even as they, too, evince symptoms of despair and dissociation. So much of the unconscious is on display that the potential for psychoanalytic thinking to be of some use seems logical, though the clinical adage “don’t just do something, sit there!” feels badly misdirected. He is a consultant to Renee Lertzman’s Project Inside Out and is a member of working groups devoted to our warming planet within the Climate Psychology Alliance, Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the American Psychological Association and the American Group Psychotherapy Association. He is particularly relieved to be involved with the local community of mental health providers and especially Andrew and ACT-NoW.
Participants will be able to describe their own subjective reactions and in particular resistances to emotions stimulated by thinking about the effects of climate change and global warming.
Participants will be able to state their own clinical stance with regard to therapeutic change as relating to psychic and material reality.
Participants will be able to elucidate how a psychoanalytic perspective and attention to unconscious dynamics related to climate change can offer a basis for emotional resilience.
Fee: NWAPS Member: $60; Non-member: $72
Refund Policy: Refunds less a $10 handling fee will be given up until one week before the seminar.