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Caroline Hickman

Lecturer, Department of Social & Policy Sciences and PhD Candidate in Education, University of Bath

I have a background in social work and psychotherapy, currently working at the University of Bath as a Teaching Fellow in Social Work and as a therapeutic social worker with various charities in the South West working with children and young people following abuse and trauma. I have worked in social work since 1983 and as an Integrative Psychosynthesis Psychotherapist with children, couples and adults for 25 years. I qualified as a psychotherapist with Revision where my dissertation explored grief and depression and our relationship with the sea and salt water, both real and imaginal. I also studied archetypal & cultural psychology for three years with Thiasos in London.
Research projects: therapy dogs working with people with alzheimers’, issues of identity affecting refugee and asylum seeking children, public attitudes and relationships with 'wildlife' and seagulls, and therapeutic relationships with horses and llamas with children & people with alzheimers. I am also a PADI diving instructor and have spent many therapeutic hours hanging out with fish working underwater in the Sinai, Egypt.
I am a PhD candidate in Education at the University of Bath researching children and young people’s relationships with nature and feelings about the climate and ecological crisis, both in the UK, Maldives, South Pacific and other communities already affected by rising sea levels.
I am on the Executive Committee of the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA), a group contributing specialist psychological knowledge to the area of the climate and ecological crisis that humanity is facing. I am currently developing outreach programmes for CPA including therapeutic support for people struggling with eco anxiety, training and support for schools, medical, social and mental health services, and also a series of Podcasts entitled Climate Crisis Conversations: Catastrophe or Transformation. We are working closely with XR wellbeing and support groups as well as the Deep Adaptation Forum (Jem Bendell) to develop new innovative psychological support for people in the face of these changing and challenging times. I believe that Climate Psychology can help to illuminate the complex individual and cultural responses we are witnessing as the climate and eco crisis unfolds and play a part in getting people to ‘think the unthinkable’; to help people develop resilience, so that they can contribute to sustainable communities and prepare for transformational change; and to validate people’s complex emotional responses and experiences of helplessness, grief, anger, despair, guilt, shame and fear in response to the climate and ecological crisis.

This talk looks at some of the psychological barriers to taking action on climate change and argues that whilst we need to develop and implement practical and technical solutions, they will not be enough on their own. If we are going to find sustainable solutions then we have to find a way to face the paradox that it is only through facing our vulnerability, painful truths, collective denial, grief and loss that we will be able to develop the emotionally informed and sustainable action that we need to take to save ourselves as well as the planet. These inner ‘untrodden paths’ through our defences and complex feelings about climate change might just hold some of the answers we need, and counter intuitively show us the way.


  • 2008–2019
    Ms, University of Bath
  • 1992–2000
    Ms, University of East London