Tucson-area therapist speaks on climate anxiety

Tucson-area therapist speaks on climate anxiety
Published: Aug. 20, 2023 at 2:12 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 7:32 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Mary Toren has experienced over 20 summers here in the Sonoran Desert, but this one has been different.

“This has been the longest time I’ve had to spend mostly inside during the summer,” Toren said. “I haven’t even had the early mornings and the late evenings where I felt comfortable going outside.”

The heat and a fairly dry monsoon so far have brought the topic of climate change to the forefront, bringing with it stress and anxiety.

“I see people really struggling with it, I see a lot of people really coming up against hard feelings around it – climate grief, climate anxiety if you will, distress and if you’re paying attention to this, it’s going to bring big emotions up,” climate-aware therapist Kristen Jackson Banister said.

Toren said conversations about climate change have become a common topic of conversation for people of all ages.

“I work with some kids in grade school it’s just part of their everyday conversation and they know that we don’t have enough water and they know that we don’t have enough housing,” Toren said.

The few experts on climate anxiety in Tucson say an open discussion about these topics is a good idea.

“It indicates that we’re paying attention and we care, and I also think that we can help ourselves to connect to other people and we’re having an experience and metabolize the emotions of the experience,” Banister said. “Then we can be more adept at responding to what’s happening.”

And Banister is hopeful that outlets for these discussions will become more and more available.

“I do expect it to grow. I think therapists will start to identify themselves, get training in the area and really start to think about it as the trend of people’s emotionality around it continues,” Banister said.

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