It’s not Easy Becoming Green: Student-therapist Perceptions of Family Therapy in an Eco-sustainabl...
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It’s not Easy Becoming Green: Student-therapist Perceptions of Family Therapy in an Eco-sustainable Age. Haley McCormick Christina Vier Allison Block. M/CFT.

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Haley mccormick christina vier allison block

It’s not Easy Becoming Green: Student-therapist Perceptions of Family Therapy in an Eco-sustainable Age

Haley McCormick

Christina Vier

Allison Block

M cft


  • Marriage Couple and Family Therapy deals with a variety of psychological, emotional, and relational problems within individuals, couples, and families.

  • Changing behaviors must deal with the social context surrounding the individual such as family

    • In order to become more sustainable, the family unit and therapist should focus on the intersection between family therapy and ecological sustainability

  • Both M/CFT therapy and ecological movement focus on family sustainability and overall well-being



Defined as practices and programs that will protect and enhance human and natural resources needed by future generations to have the same quality of life as now or better than our own.

An interest in sustainability and concern for the planet’s well being can enhance family and community life and change the perspectives of others to become more ecologically sustainable as well

Four main themes

Four Main Themes

  • Ecosystemic Connectedness

    • How connected one is to nature and the importance of values

  • Therapeutic Fit (with Clinician and Clients)

    • Idea that people have different values and the therapist needs to find the most appropriate way to implement eco-friendly behaviors in regard to the clients values

  • Practical Considerations and Applications to Treatment

    • How to take an appropriate approach to helping families become more sustainable through therapy

  • Barriers to Eco-Informed Therapy

    • There may be a disinterest in families to become sustainable

    • Some families going to therapy might have biophobia- a fear of nature creating alienation from it

    • Families are very dependent on technology and might find that becoming more sustainable might lead them to giving up certain technology

    • It is a politically influenced topic and might create tension between the client and therapist



Increase awareness of nature

Increase well-being within the family as a unit

Help to make the future way of life the same if not better then it is today

Increase the cohesiveness between family members in sustainable behaviors

Implications fo r practice

Implications for Practice

  • Some argue, that with clinical issues growing, there is not enough time for clinicians to learn a new approach (eco-inform approach)

  • Family members would have to work together in acting upon the new eco-friendly behaviors

  • When working together as a group everyone must have similar values to make this approach effective

  • Families also need to analyze themselves individually and then discuss values as a group and come up with their own behaviors to work together.

    • I.e. saving water as a household, carpool more, recycle, etc.

  • Families also need to reflect on their behaviors from the past and develop a stronger awareness of how to become more connected with nature in the future

    • The idea of future generations within one’s own family is the best motivation when working together as a family.

Critical review

Critical Review

  • Agreements

    • Nature has a very therapeutic benefits therefore implementing nature into therapy programs could help families

    • Having more of a ecologically sustainable outlook could carry over into having a more sustainable family unit

    • The studies awareness of the biases that the therapist could impose regarding the eco-values

  • Disagreements

    • The study observed and only coded the most popular phrases from the participants

    • Eco-based therapy wasn’t correlated enough into how specific family problems would be addressed

    • Based on opinions of “going green”, there were no specific ways the researchers gave of how they would actually implement this





What do you think would be the best way to get families to be more sustainable? (Monitor water usage? Carpool? Recycle? Hike to become aware of nature? Plant a tree or garden?)

Do you think that sustainable tactics can be taught through therapy? And do you believe that these ideas can bring families closer together?

Do you believe it is more important for individuals to work on being sustainable or work in a group (as a family)?

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