Psychotherapy for Eco-Anxiety: Shifting From Catastrophizing to Action
Article by Robert Feder, M.D.
Published in Psychiatric News, August 25, 2022
The climate crisis is quickly becoming the greatest existential threat to most of Earth’s inhabitants. Increased awareness of this issue generates many distressing psychological experiences, including anxiety, panic, depression, and hopelessness.
Psychiatrists and mental health professionals will increasingly need to help individuals deal with these reactions. The techniques described here have been utilized and presented in scientific lectures and publications. Although there have been few, if any, controlled trials of these techniques for eco-anxiety, they have been extensively reported to be beneficial. These interventions are intended for adults and adolescents.
Anxiety, dread, discouragement, despair, hopelessness, grief, and guilt in relation to the climate crisis are normal responses. It is important to identify this for patients and not make them feel that their reactions are abnormal or pathological. If eco-anxiety is treated as an illness, the forces of climate denial will have won. Patients should be provided a safe space in which distressing emotions can be discussed and processed. After this, they can be helped with cognitive restructuring of the thoughts that led to these feelings and finally guided into constructive actions…READ FULL ARTICLE>
Robert Feder, M.D., is a psychiatrist in New Hampshire and the APA representative to the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.