Workshop on Climate Change Based on the Work of Macy, and Informed by the Satir Model

  • Janet Christie-Seely University of Ottawa
Keywords: climate change, Virginia Satir, Joanna Macy, conspiracy of silence, workshop


Impacts of climate change have become as much a psychological problem as an ecological one. When I started the article in 2016, books and articles were commenting on the conspiracy of silence around climate change—apart from the noisy climate-change deniers. The silence was broken in 2017, thanks to the strong denial of climate change by one man. Two years ago, after extensive reading, particularly regarding Joanna Macy’s workshop “How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy,” I decided I needed to do something rather than despair or deny (Al Gore’s triad). Of Macy and Johnstone’s three areas of action, raising consciousness was the obvious one for a therapist.

After summarizing Satir’s tools and their relevance to both climate change and Macy’s workshop, I describe the workshop on climate change, based on Macy’s work. I first presented it to my local Satir group, then to the annual International Human Learning Resources Network conference in 2015, and finally to the Virginia Satir Global Network Conference for Satir’s 100th Birthday Celebration in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (June 2016). This article is written with therapists in mind, and so I have tried to be true to the experiential nature of both Macy and Satir’s work. Therapists may either want to help clients deal with the prevalent angst or to take a leadership role themselves and give presentations or workshops on this key topic for humanity.