Research is growing on the effects of climate change and natural disasters on human well-being. A 2020 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) states that “Concern about climate change may be having an impact on mental health, with more than two-thirds of adults (68%) saying that they have at least a little “eco-anxiety,” defined as any anxiety or worry about climate change and its effects. These effects may be disproportionately impacting the country’s youngest adults; nearly half of those age 18-34 (47%) say the stress they feel about climate change affects their daily lives.”

As a result, it is important for counselors to understand concepts like eco-anxiety and eco-grief and how these might show up for individuals and families. In this workshop, we will discuss how people are affected by ecological changes such as climate change, natural disasters, and species loss. We will discuss the variety of emotional responses associated with grief, loss, anxiety, and even trauma as a result of these climate realities. In addition, we will discuss normalizing the wide range of emotional responses that occur in response to this topic and encourage actions that can be taken to move these emotions into useful behaviors for well-being of people and the planet.

In this session, we will cover often-used terms and learn about a few informal assessment tools. The objectives of the course are to:

• Define terms like eco-anxiety, eco-grief, climate crisis, resilience, hope, and encouragement.

• Examine common emotional reactions associated with climate issues.

• Provide information from research and implications for counseling.

• Encourage participants to explore activism while caring for themselves.

2-hour workshop with one 15-minute break

2 CE’s MFT pending

Recent research suggests growing levels of concern for climate change with young people proportionately affected. This course provides introductory information around eco-anxiety and eco-grief, assessments, research, and actions that counselors, individuals and families can take to build a more thriving relationship with nature, thereby healing themselves and planet.

In a study of Minnesota Mental Health Professionals (including LICSW, LSW, LMFT, LPCC and others), these professionals agreed that climate change is a critical problem impacting mental health (81.6%), with many (61.0%) already observing these impacts. More than half (51.8%) report that clients would consider discussing climate change as part of their treatment. Yet fewer (32.9%) feel well-prepared to have this discussion.1 This is a place to have such a discussion.


Participants will be exposed to and discuss terms and research related to the relationship between climate change and mental health. They will better understand the many terms associated with climate emotions and responses. They will learn tools for resilience for themselves and their clients as we all navigate future climate issues.

Bre Hiivala Cahoy, EdD is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and full-time faculty member in the Counseling Program at Adler Graduate School. She has experience in career development, employee assistance programs, and has served as an advocate at a campus Women’s Center. Her dissertation was about the relationship between nature relatedness, nature exposure, and quality of work life in student affairs professionals. Bre appreciates the inclusion of nature in self to understanding holistic wellbeing and healing for individuals and organizations. She integrates holism and Adlerian principles in her daily work with students as a counselor educator.


Michelle Doerr, MS, is a wildlife biologist with a Master’s in Wildlife Management from the University of Missouri. She worked for Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in several capacities dealing with human-wildlife interactions. She started Anavah Consulting LLC to work with individuals, groups, companies and organizations interested in better human-human, human-wildlife, and human-landscape connections. She is a graduate of the National Conservation Leadership Institute, an elite program for conservation leaders. She obtained a certificate in Advanced Adlerian Psychology and is a member of the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology. She came to study Adler after she saw how his principles helped a child’s eating disorder when a specialty treatment center couldn’t. Adlerian principles and ecological principles combined are the heart of her purpose; to help self and others value all life on earth.