The Experience of Eco-Anxiety of Individuals Who Have Been through an Ecopsychology Support Group for Facing the Climate Crisis: A Grounded Theory Inquiry

Prof Doc Thesis


Aston, N. 2022. The Experience of Eco-Anxiety of Individuals Who Have Been through an Ecopsychology Support Group for Facing the Climate Crisis: A Grounded Theory Inquiry. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v4qz
AuthorsAston, N.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Abstract

A contextual perspective on mental health is foundational to developing a humanistic understanding of wellbeing. However, within research and clinical practice, there is a notable lack of consideration of the environmental context beyond the immediate family system, despite scientific consensus concerning the threats to wellbeing presented by the climate crisis. A review of the literature indicates a limited understanding of how people experience our global context of the climate crisis. The experience of “waking up” to the climate crisis has been described most often using the term “eco-anxiety”, although the research base is fragmented by a range of descriptions and psychological theories. Until now, psychological theory has lacked the support of in-depth exploration of this subjective experience. To address this gap, the current study interviewed individuals who self-identified as experiencing eco-anxiety, and who had been through an ecopsychology support group for facing the climate crisis. A constructivist grounded theory method was chosen in line with a critical realist ontology and moderate social constructionist epistemology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 adults who self-identified as experiencing “eco-anxiety”, and who had attended an ecopsychology group for facing the climate crisis called “The Work That Reconnects.” Data analysis generated two core categories of theory: “the psychosocial processes of eco-anxiety”, and “the psychosocial processes of regeneratively sustained eco-anxiety.” These findings are discussed in relation to the extant literature on facing the climate crisis. The research suggests psychological, emotional, and social support is helpful in supporting the wellbeing of those seeking to sustain conscious awareness of our context of living on a suffering planet. A summary of clinical implications and recommendations for further investigation is provided.

Keywordsco-anxiety; climate distress; eco-fear; eco-trauma; climate anxiety; climate crisis
Year2022
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v4qz
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Publication dates
Online18 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Submitted20 Jun 2022
Deposited15 Dec 2022
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