Psychotherapy Articles

Psychotherapy Articles

Internet Editor’s Note: Please click this link for the video.

We were just teenagers when Earth Day first came about on April 22, 1970. We remember the special celebrations and visions of hope. Fast forwarding to over 50 years later in April 2023, the frightening climate-related nightmares envisioned in the 1970’s, have become our current reality. In most countries, factories are no longer allowed to spew toxic fumes into the air, however, as of 2019, the World Health Organization estimated that air pollution caused 4.2 million premature deaths (World Health Organization, n.d.). Changes in the climate are affecting water supplies, allowing previously dormant viruses to proliferate, increasing illnesses, creating extreme weather events (tornadoes, storms, floods, wildfires), destroying homes and business, and damaging infrastructure across the world. Climate change also presents many social justice concerns, with those communities that are contributing least to the damage, suffering the most from it in terms of health and economic indicators (European Commission, n.d.).

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with psychotherapy? It is hard to escape the impact of one’s individual, social, and global environment from their mental health. In a broad-reaching international study of over 10,000 children and young people 16-25 years of age, Hickman et al. (2021), found that almost 60% of those surveyed were ‘extremely’ worried and 84% were ‘moderately’ worried about the changes in the climate. In addition, 45% of the respondents said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change, with 75% of the respondents feeling frightened about the future (Hickman et al., 2021). If you are wondering whether climate change is an appropriate topic for therapeutic discourse, talk to therapists working in areas inundated with wildfires, tornadoes, or floods.  Talk to therapists working in areas of high air pollution, or in coastal towns dependent on fishing or tourism. Talk to therapists working with young people weighing out the state of the world with their desire to bring more children into it. In fact, consider the lingering feelings, perhaps of sadness and grief, when you read some of the current disturbing facts mentioned above.

Over the next few months, the Professional Practice Domain of Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (Division 29) will present articles and videos related to climate change and psychotherapy. A recently posted video, shows an interview with a certified climate therapist, Dr. Lezlie Scaliatine, who provides a very personal view of her experiences during the 2017 wildfires in California. In this video, she offers suggestions for therapists wanting to address climate-related anxiety and trauma with their clients. Division 29 will soon be offering a one-hour workshop presented by Elizabeth Allured, PsyD and Wendy Greenspun, PhD, two leading experts from the Climate Psychology Alliance-North America. The workshop provides a basic overview of this topic and discusses ways to examine these issues in a therapeutic context. We welcome you to take advantage of this unique training opportunity. We invite you to share your comments and articles addressing the intersection between climate change and psychotherapy.

Cite This Article

Thompson, B. J., Vivino, B. L., and Jackson, G. (2023, April). Psychotherapy and climate change. [Web article]. Retrieved from


European Commission. (n.d.). Consequences of climate change. Climate Action. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R. E., Mayall, E. E., Wray, B., Mellor, C., & van Susteren, L. (2021). Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: A global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health, 5(12).

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Ambient (outdoor) Air Pollution. World Health Organization. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from





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