PBS NewsHour hosted “climate psychology therapist” Leslie Davenport to discuss how some people have daily anxiety about climate change.
PBS host John Yang painted a grim picture of the world as one of “triple digit temperatures for days on end, smoke from record setting wildfires fouling the air, warming oceans, bleaching coral reefs” and claimed that many as a result are feeling an “overwhelming sense of despair” psychologists call “climate anxiety.”
After speaking with guests, who described frequent concerns about the climate and even panic attacks during mundane moments, he brought in Davenport. She claimed this concern about the future of the planet is entirely justified, even if it may be interfering with their lives to the point they need therapy.
Davenport describes herself on her website as a “climate psychology educator” who offers “climate aware therapy for addressing the eco-anxiety and eco-grief of climate chaos, whether resulting from high impact trauma, or the existential experience of what is occurring on a global scale, in addition to exploring ways of living a more ecoharmonious life.”
“When does healthy concern about the planet, about climate change become this sort of climate anxiety?” Yang asked.
“Well, from the emerging field of climate psychology, one thing that’s really important to understand is we view distress, upset sadness, grief, anger, about climate change to be a really reasonable, even healthy reaction,” Davenport replied.
She added further, “Because it’s built into us as people that if we feel risks, threats, experience losses, there’s going to be upset. So it’s really important to acknowledge that if you’re feeling that on any level of intensity, it really means you’re paying attention, you care, you’re empathetic to what’s happening to our world.”
She recommended a few ways to deal with climate anxiety once it begins to interfere with daily life, ranging from meeting other people in “climate cafés, or climate circles” or finding a therapist in a “climate aware therapist directory.”
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