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Dry Woods


My name is Rachel Yates and I am a UK qualified clinical psychologist. I have been working with families in the NHS since 2011. I am also a climate coach and parent to a busy two-year-old.

You can read more about why I decided to start working on climate below, but in a nutshell, although it was something I had always cared about, it was having my daughter that made it suddenly deeply personal and pushed me to find my own way to do something about it.

I made my own journey from despair and disempowerment to a place where I now feel a lot more active, empowered and, dare I say it, hopeful. I have found it helpful to allow myself space to engage with the topic and to feel deeply the complex emotions it brings up. It has helped to find a community of others who also care about this and to gradually figure out my own way to get involved.

I want to use this personal experience, along with my training in clinical psychology and climate coaching, to help other new parents tackle the things that keep them stuck in apathy and inaction. I want to help those who feel desperate to do what they can to protect their children’s future, but aren’t sure where to start.

You can read a bit more about my background and experience below.

Autumn Leaves

My Climate Story

During the pandemic, after several years of dashed hopes, I finally became mother to an incredible little human; like all babies, a wonderful little bundle of hope, joy and curiosity towards every little thing she comes across, from leaves on the pavement, to tiny pieces of dirt she finds on things, to anything at all she sees her father and me using (the more unsuitable the object for a toddler, the more intriguing she seems to find it!).

Four months after my daughter emerged into the world, and only a few short weeks after I began to wake up from the blurry early stages of parenthood, I read an article in The Guardian which gave the headlines from a leaked early draft of the 6th report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was due to come out later that year.

It introduced the idea of “tipping points” as “cascading events”, “beyond which impacts become unstoppable or irreversible, or accelerate”, each one leading to the next like “like toppling dominoes”. It used phrases like “widespread and possibly irrevocable disaster”, forecasting “huge social and economic responses, such as population displacements and conflict” if we do not respond. The article cited the report as warning that “Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems…humans cannot”.

It was clear that the scientists were seeing the impacts of climate change coming sooner and with more drastic effects than had been previously predicted and that the impacts were already being felt around the world. Without action on a really significant scale in the short years before my daughter finishes primary school, rising CO2 levels will dramatically change the way life is lived on earth, and much sooner than many had imagined.

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I went for a walk with my Dad that day, in some beautiful meadows near my parents' house, carrying my little one cuddled against me in a sling. We talked about the report and, my head spinning with disastrous visions of my daughter’s future, I looked to my Dad, as I have many times in life, for reassurance. Along with my Mum, he has always represented safety for me and dependable reassuring wisdom and sense at times of doubt and uncertainty. Only this time, he couldn’t give me an answer to my questions except to agree that the situation was dire and extremely frightening. 

The commentary on the report highlighted that, while the situation is grave, it is also fixable and people who have spent their lives studying this stuff know what needs to be done. It’s just a matter of getting on with it. Ultimately, it comes down to people, and collectively we are not responding or acting as required.

Later I read “The Future We Choose” by Christina Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, which powerfully describes visions of two futures. The future under the scenario in which we collectively respond to what is happening, and the “business as usual” scenario. What really hit home for me is that neither future looks remotely like the life we are currently leading. Change is inevitable. It will either be forced upon us by the elements in all its horror, or it will be a future we have actively chosen to get involved in shaping for the good. We must decide which side of history we want to sit on.


My Climate Story
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It breaks my heart to watch my daughter playing and to think that she is blissfully unaware of the problems humanity is facing. I want her to grow up in wonder at the beauty of the planet and natural world. I want her to feel trust in the people around her to do what they can to protect a liveable future for her, and for all those around the world who will live on in whatever world is left for them after we're gone. I want to be able to help her understand what is happening as she grows up, to learn to love and cherish the planet she lives on and to feel hopeful and inspired about her place in the future.

But more than anything, as a parent, I want her future to be safe and rich with amazing experiences, sensations and strong connections to others. Whether or not that ultimately proves possible, I need to know I did what I could to make it happen.

These moments and reflections became my personal tipping points and I have since been determinedly working to find my role in this fight and a community of allies with whom to act. I have always cared about the planet and loved the outdoors and the natural world, but mostly I love people. Ultimately that was what led me to become a clinical psychologist. Despite how it can seem, and despite what many people think, I really believe people are fundamentally good and do their best with whatever hand they have been dealt in life, according to what they have come to understand about the world. We have complicated brains, which produce thoughts and feelings which can be difficult to navigate and we live in complicated times. Both as collectives and as individuals, we can make terrible choices, but I believe that, if it were possible to know anyone’s full story, their actions would ultimately make sense, even the most regrettable choices. This perspective fills me with compassion for others, both those making the choices I feel are good for the planet and those who aren’t.

Despite knowing and worrying about this crisis for years, short of attending the odd demonstration and trying to catch the train instead of flying when possible, I had never really done anything significant to try to address it - until this point. I began to wonder if I could use my background as a clinical psychologist to tackle the things that keep people stuck in apathy and inaction. I want to help those who feel desperate to do something but who aren’t sure where to start.

Since my personal tipping point, I have taken various courses including with AimHi, the Climate Change Coaches and Climate Fresk. I also started an online climate and nature book club and I am currently taking a course with the Climate Changemakers and am now developing my own course for other concerned parents. 

More recently I read another article from The Guardian, again on tipping points, but this time "super-tipping points" of cascading climate action. They quote findings from a recent report which describes three areas (electric cars, plant-based alternatives to meat and green fertilisers) within which "Relatively small policy interventions....would lead to unstoppable growth in those sectors". These boosts would then have knock on benefits by changing the balance of incentives and thereby driving shifts towards green options in other areas of the economy. They argue that these "super-tipping points are the fastest way to drive global action, offering “plausible hope” that a rapid transition to a green economy can happen in time".

So there is room for hope and, if we look, we can begin to find direction and ways to use our own individual skills, talents and experiences to address this crisis. There are many others out there who also care deeply, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

If you're also struggling with how to make sense of these topics and wondering what you can do to address the problem, I'd love to talk to you. If you've already made a journey into climate action or a climate career, I'd love to hear about it. 

There's no one right way to get involved in taking action. It's going to take everyone!

My Background & Experience

Registrations and qualifications

Registered with the UK Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC) since 2014 and with the Col·legi Oficial de Psicologia de Catalunya since 2023.

Doctorate – Clinical Psychology, (including professional training in the UK National Health Service and completion of a doctoral thesis)

2011 – 2014 Royal Holloway, University of London

Master’s Degree – Research in Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology

2010 – 2011. Autonomous University of Barcelona

Undergraduate Degree – Experimental Psychology

2005 – 2008. University of Oxford

Climate related training and courses attended

Climate Psychology Certificate with the California Institute of Integral Studies

September to December 2023.

Changemakers Academy - Introduction to Climate Advocacy. Course run by the Climate Changemakers.

January to February 2023.


Climate Fresk workshop on understanding climate change.

November 2022.


Climate Change Coaching Training Programme with the Climate Change Coaches.

March to June 2022.


AimHi Earth’s Four-Part Climate and Nature course – “Climate Nature and How to Make a Difference”.

September 2021.


Book club

In June 2022 I set up the Blue Planet Bookshelf Book Club which is a place to learn about the climate and nature crises. We meet monthly, online, to discuss climate and nature related books and documentaries. Come and share your reading with us - everyone is welcome!

Backgroud & Experience
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Professional experience

2014 - present: Clinical Psychologist in the National Health Service

8 years post-qualification experience working as a Clinical Psychologist with children and families in the UK National Health Service in London. Experience includes:

  • Direct work with children, parents and families including assessment, formulation and individual therapeutic work integrating a range of psychological approaches for children and young people presenting with a wide range of difficulties.

  • Running workshops for parents including regular in-person and online workshops on various topics including “What is Autism?”, “Managing Behaviour” and “Sleep”.

  • Initiating and leading a project to convert in-person parent workshops into video material to share with families during Covid-19. In 2021, this project was recognised by Health Tech Newspaper Now, gaining second place for their national award under the category of “Best Solution for Supporting Patients”.

  • Teaching and training experience, delivering training on emotional wellbeing, mental health and attachment to staff teams in some of the schools in which I worked; offering an extended training course on Autism for nursery teachers, teaching assistants and special educational needs coordinators.

  • Consultation experience consulting to other professionals including school staff, school counsellors, social care staff and colleagues within the NHS regarding behaviour, emotional wellbeing and mental health in children and adolescents.

  • Working with professional networks and other agencies to best support children’s needs.

  • Supervision experience, supervising more junior clinical psychologists, trainees and assistants.

2011-2014 Trainee Clinical Psychologist in the National Health Service

Working on placements with children and adults. This included placements in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), adult mental health services and inpatient services. I also worked with a parent-infant psychology service which worked with parent-child relationships in children up to two years old for parents concerned about their relationship with their child.



  • Magiati, I., Moss, J., Yates, R., Charman, T., Howlin, P. (2011). Is the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) a useful tool for monitoring progress in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders? Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55 (3), 302-312.

  • Moss, J., Howlin, P., Hastings, R., Beaumont, S., Griffith, G., Petty, J., Tunnicliffe, P., Yates, R., Villa, D. & Oliver, C. (2013). Social behavior and characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Angelman, Cornelia de Lange and Cri du Chat syndromes. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118 (4), 262-283.

  • Moss, J., Howlin,  P., Tunnicliffe, P., Petty, J., Griffith, G., Hastings, R., Beaumont, S., Yates, R. & Oliver, C. (2009). Impaired and preserved sociability, social interaction skills and stranger discrimination in Cornelia de Lange, Angelman and Cri du Chat syndromes. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53, 835.

  • Yates, R., Edwards, K., King, J., Luzon, O., Evangeli, M., Stark, D., McFarlane, F., Heyman, I., İnce, B., Kodric, J., Murphy, T. (2016). Habit Reversal Training and Educational group treatments for children with Tourette Syndrome: a preliminary randomised controlled trial. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 80, 43-50.

  • Dabrowski, J., King, J., Edwards, K., Yates, R., Heyman, I., Zimmerman-Brenner, S., & Murphy, T. (2018). The long-term effects of group-based psychological interventions for children with Tourette syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Behavior Therapy, 49, 331–343.


Language skills


English (mother tongue); Spanish (advanced – DELE Level C1); Catalan (intermediate)

Frozen Leaves
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