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ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:
Climate Psychology in Therapeutic Practices
Barbara Easterlin, PhD
Psychologist – Jackson, Wyoming and Inverness, California, USA
Who did your project serve and what suffering did it address?
My Capstone Project served mental health clinicians addressing the mental health impacts of the climate and ecological crisis.
How did this project address that suffering?
I guided clinicians through direct experiences of their own relationship to climate change emotions and self-compassion for climate distress. The confusion, shame, and dissonance for our complicity in the climate crisis can be overwhelming and it keeps us from accessing a deeper well of empowerment and empathy that fuels positive action.
Who was your audience and how many people participated?
Licensed mental health clinicians and RN's (as well as anyone interested in the psychological impact of the climate crisis) participated in workshops.
What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself?
One participant shared: "It was an excellent workshop! I'm feeling inspired and hopeful — and I have new skills to bring to my clients' climate emotions."
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
The ACT Program was incredibly helpful as a safe incubation space for me to develop my idea of providing professional training to clinicians who are seeing more climate change related distress in their consultation rooms. The compassion practices I learned through ACT were integrated at every level of my project, but it was my mentor group who were so very supportive as well as my small group and mentor that gave me the courage to "go big."
What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program?
This program works very well whether you have a barely-formed intuition of what you'd like to bring forward or a fully-developed idea. It's a wonderful home base that encourages compassion in action.
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