Do we think or act “green”? Does the degradation of our environment have a psychological impact on people? Is there an ecological unconscious?
Dr. Thomas Joseph Doherty is an expert in the emerging field of ecopsychology and is a bridge between the world of scientific research and the world of therapy and action. Ecopsychology advances our understanding of mind, emotions, behavior and identity in the context of humankind’s interrelationships with global ecology and the natural world. Doherty is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ecopsychology, the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to “the relationship between environmental issues and mental health and well-being.” He is also Coordinator of the Ecopsychology Studies Program at the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Counseling. Doherty recently helped author the American Psychological Association’s report on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change. In addition to providing coaching and counseling to individuals, Doherty consults on leadership, behavior change, and culture building for socially-responsible businesses and organizations.
The New York Times calls Doherty “the most prominent American advocate of a growing discipline known as ‘ecopsychology.'” The field analyzes the emotional costs of ecological decline: anxiety, despair, numbness, a sense of being overwhelmed or powerless, and grief.
Doherty uses his expertise about psychology and behavior change to help individuals and organizations become more healthy and productive. Through his counseling and consulting business, Sustainable Self, he specializes in serving clients with ecological and socially conscious values. His work inspires insight, compassion and empowerment in people, and guides a new generation of sustainable individuals and organizations.
After studies at Columbia University in New York and University College Galway, Ireland, he spent several years working in the American West including two seasons as a professional rafting guide in Grand Canyon, leading 21-day wilderness therapy expeditions in the Northwest, and working as a fundraiser for Greenpeace. Doherty received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Antioch New England Graduate School in 2002. He received training in behavioral medicine and the use of mindfulness meditation in counseling and health care at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
Doherty’s work focuses on helping adults achieve optimal health and sustainable lifestyles. He draws on his past experiences in many ways, including helping urban dwellers to foster their connections with nature and integrating literary themes into his counseling work through the use of poetry and movies. Doherty explores the concept of personal sustainability through workshops and trainings.
Doherty’s work has been featured in The New York Times, the Portland Oregonian, New Hampshire Public Radio, Sustainability: The Journal of Record, Common Ground, Alternative and Complementary Therapies and the Monitor on Psychology.
Doherty is an engaging and sought-after public speaker who has presented talks and workshops to professional organizations, universities, businesses, and community groups. The hallmarks of Doherty’s talks include his ability to connect with individuals , honor their values, create a sense of teamwork and collaboration, and promote a positive and optimistic outlook regarding challenges like environmental problems and climate change.
He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter.
Talks and workshops:
Personal sustainability: Doherty draws on his experience in environmental and health psychology to help individuals apply sustainability principles to their personal health and well-being and develop practices of sustainability authentic to their unique personality. Doherty helps people develop confidence in their emerging ecological identities and experience what it can mean to have a “sustainable self.”
The psychology of nature restoration: Doherty discusses the stress reducing and attention-restoring properties of connection with green spaces –whether they be “nearby nature” like parks and gardens or wilderness areas.
Wilderness therapy: This talk discusses therapeutic benefits of backcountry adventuring that include relaxation and restored attention, novelty and challenge, mindfulness and physical conditioning, connection with nature and other species, time for deep inner reflection, and (re)connecting with personal vision, life-meaning, and spiritual connections.
Master of Two Worlds (M2W): This talk is inspired by the final stage of the well-known “Hero’s Journey” metaphor. Once the hero has completed his or her trials and adventures, the challenge is to manifest the vision of possibility he or she brings from the “extraordinary world” in the “real world” of their community and society — or to be a “Master of Two Worlds.” In this talk, Doherty applies the M2W model to environmental innovators and change agents who carry with them a vision of sustainability and labor daily to foster this vision in their organizations and communities. The talk also shows how the M2W model corresponds with research on leadership, motivation, and preventing burnout.
Ecopsychology: Doherty introduces ecopsychology, an emerging worldview that looks at mind, emotions, behavior, and identity in the context of global ecology in the natural world. Ecopsychology has implications for healthcare, business, and communities.
UR3OK! (You are OK!): Doherty describes a simple model for practicing sustainability in one’s daily life: Understand, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, Offset, Kindness. First seek to understand your goals and the barriers and incentives to change. Then, practice proven conservation techniques, such as reducing your consumption, reusing products, and recycling. Offset your emissions whenever possible. And, finally, be kind to yourself and others–as we all adapt to a world of globalization and climate change.