Engaging theological research with clinical practice

Information forFaith CommunitiesandHealthcare Professionals

1/2 Older »Project News

Saturday, 8th October 2016Seminar Thursday 13 October 2016:
Healing Silence

This seminar took place on Thursday 13 October 2016, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Sister Maggie Ross, Independent Scholar

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


Silence is itself a matrix of healing. This paper explores what is meant by “healing” and what is meant by “silence”, and the essential role that silence plays in a spiritually/psychologically mature life.


Maggie Ross is the nom de plume of Martha Reeves, who is an Anglican Solitary responsible to Rowan Williams. She has worked extensively in conservation, having co-founded with Gerald Durrell, Wildlife Preservation Trust, now part of the World Wildlife Fund. She has lived and traveled extensively in Alaska by ship, small plane, helicopter and kayak. For many years she has been resident in Oxford, England. Her most recent book is Silence: A User’s Guide, vol. 1. (DLT and Wipf and Stock). She blogs at ravenwilderness.blogspot.com.


Friday, 7th October 2016SEMINAR PROGRAMME
Michaelmas Term 2016

SEMINAR PROGRAMME – Michaelmas Term 2016

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 will be available for you.


Also feel free to visit the Durham University website to Subscribe to these seminars, download future seminars as an iCal calendar file or download the seminar programme in pdf format.


Thursday 13 October 2016 (4.30-6pm)
Healing Silence
Seminar Room B (D/TH004)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Sister Maggie Ross,
Independent Scholar


Thursday 10 November 2016 (4.30-6pm)
Obesity – what has God got to do with it?
Seminar Room B (D/TH004)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Dr Deborah Lycett,
Reader in Nutrition, Dietetics & Spiritual Health, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University


Thursday 24 November 2016 (4.30-6pm)
A cognitive spiritual approach to mental health and well-being
Seminar Room B (D/TH004)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Mr Monir Ahmed,
PhD Candidate, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University


Thursday 8 December 2016 (4.30-6pm)
Trauma and the Impossibility of Redemption
Seminar Room B (D/TH004)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Dr Karen O’Donnell,
Research Fellow in Digital Pedagogy, CODEC Research Centre



Durham University logo (transparent)


Thursday, 6th October 2016Science and Theology in Human Sexuality Conference – Plenary Speakers’ Presentations

19 September 2016 (11am) – 20 September 2016 (4pm), St. John’s College, Durham University
A two-day conference on Science and Theology in Human Sexuality that was held at St John’s College, Durham University, England, from 19th to 20th September 2016. The event was concerned with the contribution of science to current Christian debates on human sexuality, especially (but not only) in the Church of England. Frequent calls are made on all sides for attention to be paid to the findings of science in relation to the factors influencing sexual orientation, the outcomes of efforts to change sexual orientation, good practice in relation to pastoral care, etc., but there has been little critical attention to the scientific literature and to the way in which interpretation of this literature has been influenced by theological perspectives. This conference – held in association with the Royal College of Psychiatrists – provided a critical, state-of-the-art review of the key scientific issues, including plenary contributions from some of the leading scientists and researchers in the field. Attention was given to the various ways in which science and theology may engage in constructive inter-disciplinary dialogue, with the aim of furthering the debate in the churches in a constructive and open way.
Thank you for attending the conference. There has been a lot of interest from delegates in having access to the plenary speakers’ presentations. Happily, all of the plenary speakers have indicated their willingness to make these available, and as such you can download them by clicking on the links below:
NB: The copyright of these presentations rests with the speakers. It is prohibited to further distribute, copy or reproduce these talks (in whole or in part) without acknowledgement of the source.

Royal College of Psychiatrists


Sunday, 15th May 2016Spirituality, 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: WAS £45.00 / NOW ONLY £36.00 (order now by clicking here)

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.


Order the book here:



Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health by C.Cook

Saturday, 23rd April 2016Attentiveness of the Heart: Mental Well-Being, Spirituality and Young People

Saturday 12 November 2016 (10am – 4pm) @ St Mary’s University (Twickenham, UK)

Cost: £35 (incl. buffet lunch) – Concessions available

For the conference poster, click here.


In collaboration with the Catholic Bishops’ of England and Wales Mental Health Project and the Catholic Children’s Society

The day is a forum for young people seeking to integrate mental health and spiritual issues and those who care for them: chaplains, ministers, counsellors and mental health professionals. There will be opportunities to explore methods of practice and talk about the integration of spirituality and mental health with practitioners in the field.



  • Baroness Sheila Hollins
  • Caroline Bennett
  • Dr Humphrey James
  • Dr Rosemary Keenan
  • Junior Lynch
  • Dr Trevor Stammers
  • Dr Fiona Wilson


The day will run from 10am to 4pm and will include talks, workshops and plenary forum.





9.30am: Registration
10am: Introduction and First Speaker: Baroness Sheila Hollins
10.40am: Response: Junior Lynch
11am: Coffee
11.30am: Group Listening: Dr Rosemary Keenan and Caroline Bennett
12.30pm: Responses
1pm: Lunch
2pm: Afternoon session: workshops/smaller groups: Caroline Stanton, Junior Lynch, Dr Mo Glackin, Dr Trevor Stammers
3.10pm: Final Speakers: Fiona Wilson and Dr Humphrey James
3.50pm: Round up and Finish: Junior Lynch

For more details please contact Barbara Gwyer at inspire@stmarys.ac.uk or see www.stmarys.ac.uk/inspire/

St Marys University (logo)

Friday, 22nd April 2016‘Hallucinations and Spiritual Experience:
Voices, Visions and Revelation’ conference

Friday 25 November 2016 (10:00 – 16:30) @ RCPsych (London, UK)
Royal College of Psychiatrists

£100 standard rate | £50 reduced rate (trainees, retired members, subsidised)



5 CPD hours, subject to peer group review



This meeting is open to all members of the College and non-members (both of which can book online). It will be especially relevant to psychiatrists, students, trainees, chaplains, spiritual directors, academics and researchers interested in spiritual and religious experiences.



Booking will open shortly.

Please read the cancellation policy before making your booking.

Non-members can also book online – after clicking the ‘book online now’ button there is an option to create a new account if you’ve not done so before.



Unusual perceptual phenomena, including visual and auditory hallucinations, have been associated with spiritual and religious experiences since ancient times. Since hallucinations associated with major psychiatric disorders not infrequently include spiritual and/or religious content, this has led psychiatrists to take a reductionist approach that treats all such anomalous experiences as pathology and likely to be indicative of mental illness. However, research shows that many people who experience anomalous perception should not be diagnosed as mentally ill and are not in need of mental health services. For some, such experiences serve to enrich and enhance their sense of life purpose.

This day conference will bring together recent scientific research on hallucinations with spiritual and religious perspectives. Mental health professionals need to be aware of alternative frameworks for making sense of anomalous perceptual experiences, with important implications for both clinical practice and the spiritual life.




Emma Jacobson, telephone: 020 3701 2524.



Thursday, 21st April 2016Our MA/MSc programme in Spirituality, Theology & Health as a possible intercalated degree for undergraduate medical students

We would like to draw to your attention our MA/MSc programme in Spirituality, Theology & Health as a possible intercalated degree for undergraduate medical students. This programme is unique in its provision of inter-disciplinary engagement between theology and health sciences and related inter-professional contact. The programme has been running for 4 years now for graduate students and we accepted our first intercalated student last year. She recently graduated with a distinction.


If you are interested, please click HERE for further information on the programme and the application process.


We would be grateful if you could circulate details of this programme to anyone who may be interested. If they would like to consider this programme further, they should get in touch with Professor Chris Cook (c.c.h.cook@durham.ac.uk), as programme director, or Susan Tait, our postgraduate admissions secretary (theo.pgadmissions@durham.ac.uk), who will be able to provide further information.

We look forward to seeing you soon!


Thursday, 21st April 2016Spirituality and Narrative in Psychiatric Practice
by C.Cook, A.Powell & A.Sims

For mental health service users, spirituality and faith are closely connected with questions of relationship, transcendence, and finding meaning and purpose in life – questions best approached by way of narrative (or story).

In clinical practice, narrative can provide a means of exploring the ethical and professional dilemmas that are encountered when spiritual and/or religious concerns are in evidence. Narrative has been recognised as important in both medicine and theology, and now it can be employed as a framework for addressing spirituality and religion in clinical psychiatric practice, encompassing addictions, liaison and forensic psychiatry, and spanning all ages and cultures.

  • Breaks new ground in using a narrative to explore the importance and challenge of spirituality in clinical psychiatric practice.
  • Includes narrative excerpts and case illustrations to show how spiritual concerns can be included in a range of psychiatric treatment options.
  • Provides a tool for exploring the ethical and professional dilemmas spirituality still raises in mental healthcare.
  • Presents contributions from patients, chaplains, and leading psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.


Click on the links below to:



All psychiatrists and mental health professionals. Plus of interest to anyone interested in the effect of religion/spirituality upon mental health, e.g. hospital chaplains.



Prof. Christopher C.H. Cook – Professor of Spirituality, Theology & Health, Durham University; Honorary Minor Canon at Durham Cathedral; and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Andrew Powell – Formerly: Consultant Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, St. George’s Hospital and University of London and Consultant Psychotherapist and Honorary Senior Lecturer, the Warneford Hospital and University of Oxford.

Prof. Andrew Sims – Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Leeds and former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (1990-93).





  1. Narrative in psychiatry, theology and spirituality
  2. Spirituality and transcultural narratives
  3. Psychopathology and the clinical story
  4. Helping patients tell their story: narratives of body, mind and soul
  5. Gods lost and found: spiritual coping in clinical practice
  6. Stories of joy and sorrow: spirituality and affective disorder
  7. Stories of fear: spirituality and anxiety disorders
  8. Stories of transgression: narrative therapy with offenders
  9. Narratives of transformation in psychosis
  10. My story: a spiritual narrative
  11. God’s story revealed in the human story
  12. Meaning without ‘believing’: attachment theory, mentalisation and the spiritual dimension of analytical psychotherapy
  13. Stories of living with loss: spirituality and ageing
  14. Beginnings and endings


Spirituality & Narrative in Psychiatric Practice (Cover)


Monday, 24th August 2015Fourth International Conference of the
British Association for the Study of Spirituality
23-26 May 2016,
Chancellors Conference Centre, Manchester

We are delighted to invite you to attend the 4th International Conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality. The conference title will be: Can Spirituality transform our world? New frontiers in understanding and exploring contemporary spiritualities. Consideration will be given to the transformative potential in the concept and practice of spirituality when applied to key issues in contemporary society. Through four critical questions the conference aims to re-examine some cherished assumptions in spirituality discourse and push the boundaries of that exploration through the broad interdisciplinary platform on which BASS is founded. Bringing together perspectives as wide ranging as health and social care practice, the creative arts, business and education studies with contemporary religious and spirituality studies, and featuring key-note speakers from the UK, Germany, Ireland and Australia, this conference promises an exciting interdisciplinary encounter while retaining the relaxed atmosphere for which BASS conferences are renowned.


Please click on the links for the Conference Flyer, further information and to book your place online.


We look forward to seeing you at BASS 2016!


Saturday, 23rd March 2013Applications are now being accepted for our
MA/MSc Programmes in Spirituality, Theology & Health
for the academic year 2015-2016

Entry to our MA/MSc programmes 2015-2016 in Spirituality, Theology & Health is still possible for the academic year 2015-2016. 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