Turning towards our desire to turn away: Climate disavowal in the context of the Australian counselling profession

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Nell Azuri



This article examines disavowal, or half-knowing, of climate change from the standpoint of the Australian counselling profession. It argues that the field in Australia has yet to make climate change a professional duty of care or ethical issue. It also looks at the role of disavowal in the lack of engagement with climate change in society more broadly. Mapping out the existing vicious cycle that disavowal triggers in relation to climate change, it introduces an alternative, virtuous cycle. It argues that noticing and containment of distress are key ingredients to shifting into a virtuous cycle, and examines strategies for relational, agentic, cognitive, and spiritual containment. Acknowledging that climate distress appears to be at significant levels in the community, but may not be seen so often in counselling contexts, it argues for counsellors to be more sensitive to possible climate distress without presuming its presence or absence. Implications for practice include a need for ongoing reflexivity and an acceptance of our own climate disavowal.


Keywords: climate anxiety, climate change, climate denial, eco-anxiety, eco-distress, therapy

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