Climate Change & Ecoanxiety: Strategies to Engage Helping Professionals (University of Southern California)

Climate Change & Ecoanxiety: Strategies to Engage Helping Professionals (University of Southern California)


While acceptance and recognition of the current climate crisis continue to grow, meaningful behavioral changes at the practitioner level remain mostly absent from daily practice. Ecoanxiety may be thecause. Ecoanxiety presents as an increased sense of guilt and fear of climate change due to knowledge or personal experience with a disaster and creates a sense of despair (Clayton, Manning, Krygsman, & Speiser,2017). This despair inhibits meaningful action and can severely impact social work progress and practice (Hogan & Kelter, 2015).

The effects of ecoanxiety serve to isolate individuals from the precarious state of the planet through feelings of anxiousness, depression, fear, and despair, which combine to prevent individuals, communities, and governments from taking serious action to combat the anthropogenic causes of climate change. Ecoanxiety and guilt transfer into a lack of action, including among helping professionals, with this paralysis creating a cycle of personal despair and, therefore, inadvertently enabling further destruction of the environment.

Through a better understanding of the climate crisis and its direct correlation to the fundamental goals of helping professions, this workshop will offer practitioners insight into using self-care to overcome ecoanxiety and result in better management strategies and techniques. Practitioners will build their climate competency and, as a result, find themselves better positioned to recognize and support ecoanxiety among their clients and advocate on behalf of wider communities.

Learning Objectives

  1. Recall the basic facts of climate change and identify corresponding intersections between environmental justice and the intrinsic goals of helping professions

  2. Understand ecoanxiety and the ways it commonly presents in adults, as well as how environmental trauma may be considered adverse childhood events (ACES)

  3. Connect with self-care and advocacy practices to overcome minor ecoanxiety, and gain access to resources for more severe cases

  4. Establish “first-step” advocacy plans that practitioners may implement immediately into their work.

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