"To arrive at the edge of the world's knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves..."

James Byars, conceptual artist & philosopher, 1968

Collegial Conversations:

1: Why?

2: "Superordinate Climate Trauma" - What's that?

3: What might the Conversation look like?

4: How might it be set up?

1: Why the Conversation?


We start with ourselves -

As someone working in the broad field of existential concerns,

what support do you have, want and need to manage your

own responses to the climate emergency?


How are your values, beliefs and behaviours - your identity - changing in the intensity of these times?

And our clients -

How might your own anxieties and distresses regarding the existential climate crisis, coupled with the insights, maps and models from your experience and training, help your clients navigate its challenges to our familiar identities?

As a practitioner, perhaps you have the capacity to speak from inside this process in ways that others haven't – what can you model or point to that may help them make more sense of their experience and help them find their own place in this ongoing process?

And then our communities -

How do you see your place and part in the public conversation around human behaviour and the climate?

If you are a systems thinker, maybe you have ways to help ease people into the system from positions of lonely externality? 

The climate shift seems set to effect just about every aspect of life. What do we need to be paying attention to in our own work? And our lives? How might our approach, thinking, behaviour or identity need to change?

Would you take part in a conversation with colleagues from your own and allied disciplines about what has been termed “climate trauma” and its impact on our world?

2: "Superordinate Climate Trauma"


What is unique about this category of trauma is that it is an ever-present, ever-growing threat to the biosphere, one that calls into question our shared identity: What does it mean to be “human” in the Anthropocene? 


Because it is superordinate, Climate Trauma is continually triggering all past traumas—personal, cultural, and intergenerational—and will continue to do so until such time as it is acknowledged. 


Climate Trauma provides the missing narrative explaining our dissociated unresponsiveness to the climate crisis, and suggests an alternative approach to effecting the kind of fundamental societal change needed to remedy our collective dissociation. 


The first steps toward effecting this kind of ambitious sociocultural change are naming the disorder and reforming the taxonomy of psychological trauma.

Zhiwa Woodbury -EcopsychologyVol. 11, No. 125 Feb 2019 https://doi.org/10.1089/eco.2018.0021?


3: Possible conversation guidelines

Starting with Identity

The unfolding climate and ecosystem emergency is too overwhelming for most individuals to address or even comprehend easily. However, since it is a global event, its effects can be considered within our local context no matter where we are.  Seen in this way, the climate crisis can be understood as impacting our local identity - how we work, farm, eat, play, house ourselves, worship and so on.  

We have a narrative around what we understand as "our place", no matter where we live, which informs how we perceive ourselves.  In these collegial conversations, as a precursor to considering our clinical work, it is worth considering -

- what is the local character or identity of our area?

- what particular qualities epitomise local people's sense of themselves and each other?

- are there any particular feelings or emotions that are common to our place and/or its history?

- how are relationships between identity, indigeneity, power and colonisation understood in our area?

- what may be the current and prospective impacts of climate and ecosystem emergency for our area?

1: How might “climate trauma” and the “existential crisis” be turning up already, unacknowledged and present in the otherwise personal conversations we are having with clients, patients, or mentorees?
What opportunities or feedback might the crisis offer them – and us? 
What are the personal, professional, ethical or theoretical aspects that might limit how we speak about these things – and are these limitations relevant or appropriate in an emergency?

What role does our own embodied felt-sense play in guiding our engagement?

How do our own personal or professional identities limit our engaging? 
What might we model better in our own lives?


2: Faced with the "superordinate trauma" of climate catastrophe, how well do our modalities, theories and practice fit with the systemic nature of that level of existential crisis? 
Where may our modalities, theories and practice have latent capacity to better serve the moment?

In what ways can they enable core human values to flourish within the system?

What limits us in developing our responses to the needs of the moment?

3: What new thinking or research do we need to help realise the potential that this crisis offers?

How do we embrace this safely, appropriately and with the necessary urgency?

How do we express what is possible and necessary in these times?

How might we engage in this with our clients?


4: What new perspectives can support collective action in our communities enabling a shift from finite “status quo” thinking?

How do we deepen the focus from satisfying wants to recognising needs?

How shall we promote psychologically-informed engagement in our local community? 

How can we work with local cultural expressions, values, practices and ways of understanding (eg: festivals, community gatherings, heritage events, significant natural features, etc) to build resilience?

See other variants of these questions HERE

4: How? Some suggestions:

a) find a colleague who shares an interest in this project - develop it together. 

Log your intention via this site (here) so that you get on the email list for additional resources as added.

b) set a date and venue for the group to meet, and decide on numbers (probably 4 - 10 people).  

These can be a local peer supervision group, people from similar modalities, a trans-modality group, or a trans-disciplinary group.

c) send invitations and follow-up with a phone call.

d) decide on the format of your meeting - how might you use the framework (left) and other resources on this site.

e) at the meeting, have a note-keeping process whereby you capture process aspects of your experiences, individually and as a group, as well as some of the comments, concerns and decisions.  
Perhaps address how to support each other in your practice, and consider how you may want to see some of your suggestions implemented - where these are things you can't do yourselves.

f) choose whether and how to raise wider community awareness of the process (other people might follow suit!)

This might be by submitting something to a professional newsletter, or using local media (local paper; radio etc).

g) identify leverage points - and how these can be best utilised to achieve inclusive and effective engagement and action.

h) decide what might be a next step - and, if possible, please pass your notes though to the GaP team via the Contact tab, and we will be seeing where there may be some common themes or ideas. 

Find the place where your greatest joy and the world's hunger meet..

Frederich Buechner, 1973