Consider this summer’s CPI. I went to the first annual CPI in 2011 and it was great.
Ecotherapy? What’s that? Huh? You do what? Holos Institutes’ Second Annual Applied Ecopsychology Conference Addresses this Question
My latest article in Ecotherapy News Summer 2012 Issue is a short report back from a recent ecopsychology conference.
See page one for my article which is also pasted below. Check the link for lots of other great articles by folks working in the field.
Over Earth Day weekend, the San Francisco based Holos Institute
(www.holosinstitute.net) hosted its second annual Applied Ecopsychology
Conference: Re-Visioning A Psychology That Embraces The Earth. In
opening the conference, Jan Edl Stein, Holos Director, addressed the
often challenging question that those of us in the field frequently get
asked: “What does ecotherapy or applied ecopsychology look like?”
Jan followed with her four-fold way of answering such questions. To her,
ecotherapy or applied ecopsychology is
1) A widening awareness of psyche where we consider the environmental
context of the client
2) Bringing in the clients awareness of place and their relationship to
3) Facilitating contact with the natural world
4) Understanding and merging with the natural world to embrace a larger
sense of self; understanding that we are not separate from the natural
world and that our struggles are the world’s struggles and vice versa.
This is a surprisingly multifaceted topic with many possible ways to interpret
the questions and answer it. How do YOU describe your work in
ecotherapy or applied ecopsychology?
Send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristi Kenney is a certified ecotherapist with an MA in Integral Psychology
focused on the intersection between psychology and activism. Please
contact her via her website at http://www.thecounterbalanceproject.wordpress.com.
I have an article out about Ecotherapy and the Occupy Movement in the new issue of Ecotherapy News Spring 2012.
Check the link for the full newsletter with lots of other great articles from my colleagues.
I have pasted my article below.
Occupy movement’s concerns connect to ecotherapy’s goals
Since the last issue of Ecotherapy News, the Occupy Wall Street
movement has swept the country and even the world, further
linking protest movements and people across borders and nationalities.
I have been caught up in the excitement and, as an ecopsychologist interested in social change, I have looked at the Occupy movement with interest. What has caught so many people’s minds and hearts in this mass movement?
Wealth inequality and an increasing gap between rich and poor may
have been the original impetus for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Indeed, this is still at its heart, yet there is also so much more to it.
The rumblings I see coalescing in the Occupy movement come from a
growing awareness and dissatisfaction with our increasing disconnection
from each other, from a lack of a sense of agency and involvement,
and even an awareness of our estrangement from the land.
People are tired of feeling like pawns and of having no sense of connection
with the world as it is. There is an innate pull to heal the rifts
we see and attend to our sense of community, connection, and purpose.
It is here that I see how intertwined the impetus for ecopsychology
and ecotherapy are with the Occupy movement. They are born out of a similar inclination to wholeness.
At Occupy movements around the country we have seen much of this in action. For example, I see a few key broad themes that Occupy and ecotherapy share:
From its start ecotherapy –and the many things we might name or relate to ecotherapy – have had many voices, often quite diverse and divergent, but each pointing towards somehow healing our relationship with the natural world.
The Occupy movement is similar in that it also brings together many different voices. One of the fascinating things has been watching all the different signs
people bring to Occupy events; from “We are the 99%” to “You can’t arrest an idea” to “I am very upset” and “This is not a protest, it’s a process”. As with the multifaceted issues and interests of the Occupy movement, there is no
one clear “ecotherapy”. Rather, both are a manifestation of many
voices; this diversity adds depth, texture, and strength to both movements.
Direct engagement & participation
Ecotherapy has never been “from the top down” as have other forms of psychology or psychiatry. Ecotherapist and their clients tend to have more collaborative relationships than other counseling relationship. Direct engagement and participation are key to the work of ecotherapy. This is also true for the amazing things happening in the Occupy movement; the General Assemblies are just one example of the way Occupy encourages decentralized, grassroots, direct participation from all involved. Both the work of
ecotherapy and Occupy seem to emerge from the bottom up rather
than the top down.
Addressing the connection between inner and outer work
Ecopsychology was born out of the recognition that we can no longer do therapy or inner work in isolation from what is happening out in the world. The environment around us affects our psychological state; conversely, our mental states influence how we treat the world around us. We must heal our relationship with the natural world in order to heal both self and planet. The Occupy movement has been surprisingly adept at engagement and awareness around the inner work implicitly involved in the outer work of social change. This is visible in the way people are breaking down social barriers and engaging on deeper levels within the dialogues and collaborative group work at Occupy and in the work of the “emotional medics” attempting to make sure people are grounded and aware of the ‘inner’ psychological issues that may come up in this ‘outer’ activist work. The inner and outer—individual change and social change—are engaged in both of the work of ecotherapy and the mass movement work of Occupy.
Ecotherapy and the Occupy movement grow out of the same source; they are related manifestations of the same impetus to heal our troubled world and our often troubled selves. I hope that ecotherapy can catch on like wild fire in the same way that the Occupy movement has. There is much work to be done.
Kristi Kenney is a certified ecotherapist with an MA in Integral Psychology focused on the intersection between psychology and activism. Please contact
her via her website at http://www.thecounterbalanceproject.wordpress.com.
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The Holidays & Giving
The holidays are here. Personally I just can’t get over how sunny and not wet it is here in California; I guess I am still expecting the rainy Northwest winters.
In the winter, the weather can really affect us psychologically, especially if we suffer from something like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is the time of year when we tend to hide out more, stay in, nestle down, and hibernate. The days are short and it’s dark out there.
Aside from SAD, the holidays can just be challenging for people in general. They can evoke warm fuzzies in many of us, yet conversely they can also be laced with family drama, stress, the push to buy/spend (with the accompanying money worries), and the ecological burden of over-consumption. Of course, in these economic (and ecological) hard times all of this can be heightened and more acute than usual.
What has been on my mind lately, besides what I mentioned above, is giving – philanthropic giving. The end of the year is a time when many people think about “charitable” donations.
There has been a lot of talk in the news the last few years about how, in these financially challenging times, the amounts that people donate are going down. An article in the New York Times from this October, titled Becoming Compassionately Numb, said: “About the only thing tanking faster than consumer confidence and the Greek economy would be the global compassion index, if such a measure existed.”
I wonder – is it only financial restraints that are keeping us from giving?
Global compassion index – that keeps coming back to me. I know that it can all feel daunting; our own struggles – be them financial, psychological, or otherwise – coupled with a bombardment of media about all the problems out in the world. This mix can lead to compassion fatigue, burnout, or psychic numbing.
We more readily go into a numbing mode when we are faced with massive problems that just seem to multiply and are “out there” somewhere seemingly far away from us. When the problem is up close and more personal, we are able to connect with it more and empathize more readily and realistically.
This is reflected in how we give.
This point was made clear to me while I was reading this great new book called Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change. “Ninety-eight percent of donations made in the U.S. go toward human issues (health, social services, arts, religion, and educational organizations) with only two percent going to environmental and animal protection organizations, despite the catastrophic state of our ecosystem and the fact that animals experience pain and suffering and have virtually no legal protection” explains author Nick Cooney, drawing from a 2010 Charity Navigator study.
As I look towards a new year, I am thinking about expanding my frame of reference, moving beyond my own issues, beyond “human issues”, beyond only those things that I can readily relate to. How can I skillfully work with empathy and compassionately hold all the problems I see out there without getting overwhelmed by them? How can I share what skills and privilege I have without over-tapping my reserves both psychologically and monetarily?
Here are a few resources I have found to help me in my giving endeavor:
One Percent Foundation
(These guys have an unfortunate name now that we think of the 1% as opposed to the 99%, but they are actually cool!)
Living Philanthropic – Tips for the everyday (micro) philanthropist
(This guy is a bit too hip for me, but I really like what he is doing! Some great ideas here).
The Tides Foundation – These guys seem like they are doing pretty great work; there are a lot of resources here.
All the best for 2012!