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Welcome to Climate Psychology Alliance - facing difficult truths about climate change and ecological crisis

StayingWithTheTroubleDate: Saturday 10th February 2018, 9.45 am – 5.00 pm
Venue: Bath Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 1 Trim Bridge, Bath BA1 1HD

There are many split off negative feelings surfacing in the social media, on the streets and in the therapist’s consulting room. Always targeting the Other, grievance, rage and the sense of entitlement pervade the political and cultural landscape. Meanwhile our toxic relationship to the environment, manifest in the deepening crisis of climate change, shows little signs of change.

This day will follow the therapeutic principle of staying close to the trouble and attending to what is usually avoided. We will check our understanding of grievance and resentment in the light of new work and explore how to support courage and resilience in facing into what sometimes feels overwhelming.



Paul Hoggett: Ressentiment as a Political Force from Nietzche to Trump
Ressentiment, that burning sense of grievance at the injustices of life, was first identified by Frederick Nietzche over a century ago. His powerful observations enabled political sociologists to make sense of the rise of authoritarianism in 1920s and is doing so again now. Today ressentiment is manifest in a culture of complaint, victimisation and righteousness, one which can affect ‘progressives’ as much as reactionaries. To the extent that the message of climate change ‘calls out’ the privileged and entitled part of the self, how might we avoid this simply strengthening a culture of ressentiment?
Paul Hoggett is a psychotherapist, the Chair of Climate Psychology Alliance and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at UWE.

Sally Weintrobe: Moral Dimensions of Climate Change: ‘As if’ versus ‘what if'
A self-idealizing false belief system lies behind our collective failure to reduce carbon emissions. It leads us to except ourselves from having to face reality. One reality is we feel guilt and shame when we realise we have caused damage. Sally explores two different approaches to managing guilt and shame. One is the ‘as if’ approach. Here people act ‘as if’ they can carry on being exceptions. Such people ‘repair’ damage that their exceptionalism causes in ‘as if’ ways through wishful thinking. They rearrange their mental furniture to apparently ‘disappear’ both the damage and their moral unease.
The other approach is the ‘what if’ approach. This asks, ‘what if we continue to proceed ‘as if’? The answer is the damage will mount. ‘What if’ thinking leads people to want to seek evidence and to repair damage in genuine, reality based ways. ‘As if’ thinking is promoted by neoliberal ideology and its culture. Through not addressing environmental damage in real ways, it has already led the climate system to tip into instability. Continuing with ‘as if’ thinking also makes it increasingly hard for people psychically to manage their mounting guilt and anxiety as they see the damage rise. They know their high carbon lifestyle implicates them.
Sally Weintrobe is a psychoanalyst and climate psychologist currently working on how neoliberal culture drives disavowal of climate change.

Chris Robertson: Attending to the Trouble
The half turn of your face, toward truth
is the one movement, you will not make. David Whyte

In an escapist culture that focuses on an avoidance of suffering, turning our attention towards what is troubling does not come easy. In this experiential exploration of how we deal with what troubles us, we will collect a little evidence of our own regarding our collective strategies for attending (or not). With this as an evidence base, we will explore the present challenges of attending to cultural trouble. Not so much what is wrong with our culture, but what really troubles us to which we hardly dare attend.
Chris Robertson has been a psychotherapist since 1978. He co-founded Re-Vision in 1988 and attempts working at the edge between psychotherapy and culture.


Employer funded rate £70    Early bird rate (before 25 Jan) £60
Standard Rate £50               Early bird rate £40
CPA member £40                 Early bird rate £32
Unwaged £25                       Early bird rate £20

CPA relies primarily on events to finance its activities, but we hope not to exclude anyone on grounds of cost. A limited number of further concessions can be offered. Enquiries to

To book a place e-mail your booking form to Samantha Thomas: confirming payment made

Payment by direct transfer to: The Co-operative Bank, sort code 08-92-99, a/c number 65698826. NB payments must be tagged with your initial and surname + Troubl.Conf.

By cheque made out to Climate Psychology Alliance, please send with your printed and completed form to: Adrian Tait, Hobdens, Stoke Road, North Curry, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 6HN

Image: ©shutterstock - headinthesand