Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy in the Socio-Ecological Context

Both patients and psychotherapists are part of society and are affected by global crises and their social impacts. Young people in particular are reporting increasing concerns about socio-ecological crises1, 2, 3, 4 and a variety of protest movements are emerging that highlight various social grievances (e.g. racism, represented by #blacklivesmatter, among others). Across all age groups, patients themselves can, on the one hand, report very different individual needs and problems and, on the other hand, also actively bring socially relevant issues into psychotherapy, such as dealing with socio-ecological crises or their own experiences of exclusion. The role of psychotherapy in the socio-ecological context has been increasingly discussed in recent years, especially in the United States, and this has also encouraged psychotherapists to reflect on their own privileges.5

In German-speaking countries, little is known about how these societal contextual factors - dealing with socio-ecological crises and patients' experiences of exclusion, issues of diversity and own privileges - are taken into account in the training and further education as well as in the clinical practice of psychotherapists.

Therefore, the study aims to provide a descriptive inventory for the German-speaking area with regard to the topics outlined above. Two central questions are to be answered:

  • How present are socio-ecological crises, patients' experiences of exclusion, and social discourses in the therapeutic conversation?
  • How can the (future of) psychotherapy in the German-speaking world be described with regard to questions of diversity and privilege?

The study is carried out in cooperation with the Universities of Wuppertal (Prof. Dr. Aleksandra Kaurin ), Kiel (Prof. Dr. Claudia Calvano ) and Jena (Prof. Dr. Julia Asbrand).


  1. Evensen, D., Whitmarsh, L., Bartie, P., Devine-Wright, P., Dickie, J., Varley, A., ... & Mayer, A. (2021). Effect of “finite pool of worry” and COVID-19 on UK climate change perceptions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences118(3), e2018936118.
  2. Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R. E., Mayall, E. E., ... & van Susteren, L. (2021). Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health5(12), e863-e873.
  3. Sanson, A. V., Van Hoorn, J., & Burke, S. E. (2019). Responding to the impacts of the climate crisis on children and youth. Child Development Perspectives13(4), 201-207.
  4. Timmons, S., Andersson, Y., & Lunn, P. D. (2022). Framing climate change as a generational issue: Experimental effects on youth worry, motivation and belief in collective action. PsyArXiv.
  5. Washburn, J. J., Teachman, B. A., Gaudiano, B. A., Penberthy, J. K., Peris, T. S., Davison, G. C., & Hollon, S. D. (2022). The Central Role of Lifelong Learning and Humility in Clinical Psychology. Clinical Psychological Science, 21677026221101063

Last modified: 02.11.2023

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