Studying Climate Global Climate Change Is a Personal Growth Opportunity

T32 Seminar

The mental health impacts of global climate change are typically studied from a disaster and public health framework, clarifying acute, indirect, and vicarious impacts. The psychological effects of climate change can also be viewed through other lenses: Intersectionality and environmental justice, economic and technology policy, lifespan development, place and geography, conservation and biodiversity, direct experience of the natural world, cognitive adaptation and existential crisis, spirituality and religious beliefs, rites of passage, creativity and the arts, etc. Dr. Thomas Doherty will briefly review his research on this topic and then lead participants in a personal reflection about climate change using concepts such as environmental identity and ecological self. For the public, exercises like this help give language to personal histories of environmental privilege or injustice, and illustrate links between nature, health, and human development. For researchers, these exercises promote multicultural competency regarding the effects of climate change and highlight potential biases that investigators may bring to their studies. Finally, insight regarding ones’ own environmental identity and values, and sources of connection with the natural world, suggest activities for restoration and resilience for those engaged with the challenge of climate change.

Speaker: Thomas Joseph Doherty, Psy.D.

Dr. Thomas Doherty is a licensed clinical psychologist from Portland, Oregon who specializes in applying an environmental perspective to mental health and well-being. Thomas is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Past President of the Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology. He was a member of the APA Task Force on Global Climate Change and his 2011 paper “The Psychological Impacts of Global Climate Change” has been cited 200 times. He has provided workshops and trainings for the US National Park Service, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Oregon Department of Health. Thomas consults with individuals and organizations through his practice, Sustainable Self, and is a faculty member at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School, where he founded one of the first environmentally-focused certificate programs for mental health counselors and therapists. Thomas was also the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Ecopsychology.