Engaging theological research with clinical practice

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Project News

Thursday, 12th June 2014Conference (3-5 September 2014, Durham):
Mystical Theology: Renewing the Contemplative Tradition

Durham University (Project for Spirituality, Theology and Health, and the Centre for Catholic Studies) in collaboration with St Mary’s University

3rd-5th September 2014

St John’s College, Durham


A three-day conference exploring the tradition of mystical theology from contemporary academic and practitioner perspectives. Please click below to view and download the conference Timetable:


Speakers include:

  • Archbishop Kallistos Ware
  • Professor Andrew Louth
  • Canon Rosalind Brown
  • Dr Bernadette Flanagan
  • Professor Corinne Saunders
  • Dr Peter Tyler


Cost including accommodation and all meals:

  • Residential Single £258
  • Residential En-Suite £278 (including lunch only)
  • Non-residential £156


For bookings and further information contact:

Louise Elliot
Tel: 0191 334 2883
Email: conferenceadministration.service@durham.ac.uk


Call for Papers:

This conference will explore the Christian tradition of mystical theology from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives. The conference will pay attention to the origins of the tradition in the post-apostolic period and how this has given rise itself to multiple new discourses. Leading academics and practitioners in the field will discuss the importance of the tradition from historical, philosophical, pastoral, ecumenical, psychological and aesthetic perspectives.

As well as listening to keynote addresses from leading practitioners and theorists in the field the conference will be an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and information in a variety of formal and informal settings. It is particularly aimed at academic researchers, contemplatives, theologians, pastoral workers and clergy either working in the field or wanting to develop an interest in the area.

There will be opportunities for conference delegates to present 20 minute short papers followed by 10 minutes of discussion. Abstracts (no more than 250 words) of proposed topics should be sent to Rachel Davies at r.a.u.e.davies@durham.ac.uk by 25th July 2014. All requests to deliver papers will be peer reviewed.


Please click below to view and download the Poster of the conference:
Spirituality, Theology & Health Conference 2014 – Mystical Theology (Poster)


Mystical Theology Conferece (picture)

Wednesday, 11th June 2014Seminar Thursday 26 June 2014:
Spirituality, religion and mental health: perspectives and challenges

This seminar took place on Thursday 26 June 2014, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room ER247
(Room 247, Elvet Riverside 2, Durham University, 83 New Elvet, Durham – Click here to view map).

Mrs Julia Head, Specialist Chaplain/Joint Team Leader (Research and Development), Spiritual & Pastoral Care Service/Strategy & Business Development Directorate, SLaM


This interactive presentation will focus on selected aspects of the relationship between spirituality, religion and mental health, as well as the challenges presented by this complex interface when working with users of mental health services (both generally and in ministry).


Julia Head is currently in post with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust as a Specialist Chaplain and Joint Team Leader of the Spiritual and Pastoral Care Service. Since 1994, Julia has held the position of the Bishop John Robinson Fellow in Pastoral Theology and Mental Health within the Trust. The work of the Fellowship focuses on researching the interface of religion and spirituality and mental health and on promoting religious and theological principles across the spectrum of mental health care. In addition, Julia is a Transpersonal Therapist, and has written a number of papers and book chapters focusing on the spirituality/religion and mental health interface.


Julia Head

Wednesday, 30th April 2014Seminar Thursday 15 May 2014:
‘Spiritual’ versus ‘Mental’ Health in Japan and the UK

This seminar took place on Thursday 15 May 2014, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room ER152
(Room 152, Elvet Riverside 1, Durham University, 83 New Elvet, Durham – Click here to view map).

Dr Christopher Harding, BA, MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS, Lecturer in Asian History, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

To watch the Lecture, please click on the videos below:


Since Japan opened its doors to western science and culture in the late nineteenth century, traditional Japanese religious and artistic ideas about ‘spiritual’ development and self-cultivation have entered into deep dialogue with western religion, psychiatry, and psychotherapy.

Exploring the results of a fascinating cultural conversation, this paper asks whether the way ‘spiritual’ versus ‘mental’ health is understood in Japan can help us reflect on and evaluate the growing closeness of religion, spirituality, and psychiatry/psychotherapy in the West.


Christopher Harding is Lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh. He is a cultural historian of modern India and Japan, working on these two regions’ encounters with western religion, philosophy, and psychiatry from the late nineteenth century onwards. His particular interest is in the new ideas and therapies that came out of these encounters – many of them blurring the lines between religion, spirituality, and mental health, and in the process revolutionizing the way we think about these things today.


Dr Christopher Harding

Monday, 28th April 2014SEMINAR PROGRAMME
Easter Term 2014

SEMINAR PROGRAMME - Easter Term 2014

These seminars are open to all staff and students of Durham University and to the general public. However, please be aware that they are aimed at a postgraduate level and are therefore especially suitable for MA, PhD and DThM students, as well as for others engaged in postgraduate study in relevant areas of enquiry.


If you would like to attend any of these seminars, please send an e-mail to Charidimos Koutris (charidimos.koutris@durham.ac.uk) in order to ensure that a place is reserved for you.


Thursday 15 May 2014 (4.30-6pm)
‘Spiritual’ versus ‘Mental’ Health in Japan and the UK
Seminar Room ER152, Room 152, Elvet Riverside 1, Durham University, 83 New Elvet, Durham
by Dr Christopher Harding, BA, MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS, Lecturer in Asian History, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh


Thursday 26 June 2014 (4.30-6pm)
Spirituality, religion and mental health: perspectives and challenges
Seminar Room ER247, Room 247, Elvet Riverside 2, Durham University, 83 New Elvet, Durham‎
by Mrs Julia Head, Specialist Chaplain/Joint Team Leader (Research and Development), Spiritual & Pastoral Care Service/Strategy & Business Development Directorate, SLaM


Durham University logo


Saturday, 23rd March 2013Applications are now being accepted for our
MA/MSc Programmes in Spirituality, Theology & Health
for the academic year 2014-2015

Entry to our MA/MSc programmes 2014-2015 in Spirituality, Theology & Health is still possible for the academic year 2014-2015. These programmes provide a unique opportunity for inter-disciplinary and inter-professional study in this field. They form a good basis both for theological reflection on professional practice and also an introduction to research methods for those who are thinking of working towards a PhD or DThM. They can be pursued part-time or full-time.


To quote one of our MSc students:

Every trip to St John’s College, Durham is eagerly undertaken; not just because Durham is such a fantastic city with a fascinating history and heritage, but because the teaching on the course is to such a high standard, with immensely knowledgeable lecturers who are obviously keen to impart that knowledge and to engage in meaningful debates with the students.


Applications and enquiries from prospective students are always welcomed. For further information, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Secretary in the Department of Theology and Religion, Mrs Susan Tait (e-mail: susan.tait@durham.ac.uk).


Alternatively, you can contact one of the members of Academic Staff to discuss potential thesis topics.


To find out more please click on the Courses tab above, download the Spirituality, Theology & Health MA – MSc Flyer, and visit the Department of Theology & Religion website:


Spirituality, Theology & Health


Friday, 22nd March 2013New Book:
Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health
edited by Christopher Cook

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Editor: Christopher Cook

ISBN-13: 9780334046264

ISBN-10: 0334046262

Publisher: SCM Press

Format: Paperback

RRP: £45.00

Publish date: 31/05/2013

Flyer: You can view the book’s flyer by clicking here


A few words about the book:

In 2010 a Durham conference on Spirituality, Theology & Mental Health was made possible by support from the Guild of Health. The conference was attended by more than one hundred delegates, from a variety of different professional and academic backgrounds including those working in university departments of theology, anthropology and philosophy, as well as chaplains, clergy and healthcare professionals. The present publication comprises a series of chapters by authors, all of whom presented papers at the conference. It is thus informed by the debate that took place at the conference, but it is more than simply a set of conference proceedings. The aim has been to create a book with multi-disciplinary and multi-professional contributions which show the relevance of theology to healthcare today, and which will provide a resource for postgraduate teaching, research and professional practice.


This book provides reflections from leading international scholars and practitioners in theology, anthropology, philosophy and psychiatry as to the nature of spirituality and its relevance to constructions of mental disorder and mental healthcare. Key issues are explored in depth, including the nature of spirituality and recent debates concerning its importance in contemporary psychiatric practice, relationship between demons and wellbeing in ancient religious texts and contemporary practice, religious conversion, and the nature and importance of myth and theology in shaping human self understanding. These are used as a basis for exploring some of the overarching intellectual and practical issues that arise when different disciplines engage together with an attempt to better understand the relationship between spirituality and mental health and translate their findings into mental healthcare practice.


Are you still unsure why buy this book?

Here are two Commendations by Professors Harold G. Koenig and Sheila the Baroness Hollins


Professors Harold G. Koenig:

Scientists and clinicians will find in this book contributions from theology, philosophy and pastoral practice that will give them new insights into the importance of spirituality in mental healthcare. Theological and inter-disciplinary perspectives offered here help all of us to see things differently. This book is commended to all mental health professionals, chaplains and pastoral carers, and academics wanting a broader perspective on spirituality and mental health.


Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins:

Theology and Mental health will be essential reading for clergy, health professionals and academics from different disciplines who are learning, talking and working together in the hope of better addressing the place of spirituality in mental health care. It’s a fascinating book that’s integrative of spiritual and theological perspectives with clinical and pastoral care, importantly introducing theology into a debate that has largely ignored a contribution from this discipline. Many of the writers explore the boundaries that sometimes separate different domains of expertise and differing values and assumptions in diverse settings.


Consequently, wait no more and pre-order the book here:




Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health by C.Cook

Monday, 15th June 2009Spirituality & Psychiatry

Eds. Chris Cook, Andrew Powell, Andrew Sims, Royal College of Psychiatrists Press, London, 2009

Spirituality and PsychiatrySpirituality & Psychiatry is a new book published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Emerging from the work of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, it considers the relevance of spirituality to clinical practice in psychiatry. It is edited by Chris Cook (current Chair of the Special Interest Group and Director of the Project for Spirituality, Theology & Health at Durham University) along with two past Chairs of the Special Interest Group (Dr Andrew Powell and Professor Andrew Sims). Further information, and the opportunity to purchase the book, is available from the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ website.