Occupy movement’s concerns connect to ecotherapy’s goals – Ecotherapy News article.

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:

Many voices
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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