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Friday, 25th November 2016UPCOMING Seminar Thursday 8 December 2016:
Trauma and the Impossibility of Redemption

This seminar will take place on Thursday 8 December 2016, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Dr Karen O’Donnell, Research Fellow in Digital Pedagogy, CODEC Research Centre

The lens of trauma has a curiously destabilising effect. When one begins to consider traditional Christian narratives through the lens of trauma, and in particular through the traumatised bodies of survivors of trauma, one discovers that this lens of trauma is a disruptive lens. Narratives, viewed through this lens, are oddly blurred, out of focus, incomprehensible. This lens of trauma often requires the reconstruction of a narrative in order to bring it into clear view. I argue that when one considers a traditional narrative of redemption through the lens of trauma, one cannot persist in telling the same story—such a story no longer has credibility—rather one must construct a new narrative.


Karen O’Donnell is the research fellow in Digital Pedagogy with the CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology. She recently completed her PhD at the University of Exeter with a thesis entitled “Somatic Memory: Trauma and the (Eucharistic) Body”. Karen has published research on trauma and theology and is currently undertaking a research project with military chaplains looking at the production of liturgy in the trauma of battle.


Friday, 11th November 2016Seminar Thursday 24 November 2016:
A cognitive spiritual approach to mental health and well-being

This seminar took place on Thursday 24 November 2016, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Mr Monir Ahmed, PhD Candidate, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University

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


Spirituality/religion appears to be an integral part of our existence, our ‘humanness’. Recent research reveals that individuals showing higher levels of spirituality/religiosity may also experience a reduction in mental and emotional illness (Brown et al., 2013) indicating a positive relationship between spirituality/religion and mental health. Although existing studies show the importance of spirituality/religion in mental health, there is a lack of a holistic approach integrating psychological processes and spiritual/religious factors. This approach could help better explain the mental health and well-being of a culturally diverse population as well as minority faith communities. The fundamental theme is that human beings, irrespective of their race, faith, ethnicity and culture, grow and develop emotionally and spiritually through a sense of belongingness and connectedness. Moreover, human cognition plays a significant role in everyday life. For example, the way we think affects the way we feel and behave (Beck, 1967, 1975). Thus, it is likely that cognitive processes (thoughts), which are linked with well-being (i.e., the way we feel and behave), as well as spiritual factors (i.e., ‘wholeness’, ‘connectedness’ of ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’) influence or affect the human mind and body. Therefore, ‘our thinking process or the way we think affect the way we feel and behave’ does not seem to be enough to understand and formulate psychological problems i.e., anxiety, depression of culturally diverse clients group. It is therefore proposed that ‘our thinking and spiritual processes affect the way we feel, behave and integrate ourselves in society’. Well-being is thus considered to be related to both cognitive and spiritual factors. The presentation aims to demonstrate possibility of integrating theological knowledge i.e. religiosity/spirituality with psychological principles i.e. human cognitive process and thus outlining a holistic cognitive spiritual therapy (CST) model for spiritual/pastoral care, mental health and well-being services.


Monir Ahmed is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, England. He obtained Postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); MPhil, MSc in Clinical Psychology; BSc (Honours) in psychology. He worked for mental health services both in the UK and abroad with a range of culturally diverse clients’ groups for more than 10 years. Having degrees in psychology and coming across culturally diverse population with a range of mental health problems his interest grew for understanding and discovering the ultimate need and purpose of human life. His encounter with a Christian faith community in 2012 helped him develop his interest further, ‘Human Transcendence’ in particular and motivated him to explore Spirituality, Mental Health and Well-being. He then wanted to explore and discover the relationship between human cognition and spirituality and wondered whether this relationship could be used as a holistic model to understand better about ‘Human Existence’, ‘Human Transcendence’ as well as mental health and well-being. This led him study further about spirituality/religion, mental health and well-being. His current research entitled ‘A cognitive spiritual approach to mental health and well-being’ aims to integrate spirituality/religion with human cognition (thinking process) to design and develop a holistic cognitive spiritual therapy (CST) for mental health and well-being including people with religious/spiritual struggle, mental health issues of culturally diverse population. His academic profile could be found at www.spiritualpsyche.com.


Saturday, 5th November 2016‘Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday’ exhibition

We are delighted to announce the opening of Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday and the launch of a website specifically devoted to the exhibition:


The website is rich with resources on voice-hearing and Hearing the Voice research, and is divided into a number of different sections or pages to match the different parts of the exhibition. These are:

In addition to images of some of the key displays, it contains the six podcasts that have been specially produced by Andrea Rangecroft for the exhibition. It also showcases the everyday voices audio, links to a number of articles written by HtV researchers, and three prezis exploring the science of voice-hearing (one on voices and inner speech, one on what’s happening in the brain, and one on felt presence). There are also links to the HtV main site and, more specifically, support information.

The website will grow over the course of the exhibition.

Several pages might be of particular interest to you. For the English department, for example, this might be the Literary Voices section and the Visionary Voices section. For Psychology, it might be the section on Everyday Voices, which contains the prezis on the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underly voice-hearing.

If you wish to follow the exhibition on social media, look for the #HearingVoicesDU hashtag.

Friday, 28th October 2016Seminar Thursday 10 November 2016:
Obesity – what has God got to do with it?

This seminar took place on Thursday 10 November 2016, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Dr Deborah Lycett, Reader in Nutrition, Dietetics & Spiritual Health, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University

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


The obesity epidemic is a global health problem affecting all aspects of life. Society is affected economically both in terms of productivity and healthcare costs, on an individual level people suffer physically, mentally and spiritually. While obesity is a multifactorial problem for which there is no single solution very little attention has been given to the spiritual causes and consequences of those struggling with weight issues or how the church can address these needs. I will present an overview of the current evidence regarding spirituality and weight problems, the novel work that we are undertaking at Coventry University, and the positive clinical outcomes resulting from my church based intervention as well as the significant spiritual growth experienced by those who took part.


Dr Deborah Lycett is Reader in Nutrition, Dietetics and Spiritual Health at Coventry University, UK exploring whole person approaches to obesity and other nutrition related conditions which includes physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of care. She is particularly interested in investigating the role of holistic church based interventions, to help those with long-term conditions in the community. She is interested more generally in the role of spiritual assessment within dietetic practice. Deborah has several PhD students working alongside her in these areas. She is also honorary research fellow in Primary Care Clinical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, UK. She is on the Education Board of the British Dietetic Association and involved with the European Institute for Religion, Spirituality and Health. Deborah has over 20 years’ clinical experience as a dietitian. She has worked for many years in the UK NHS and also privately, running her own Nutrition and Dietetic Consultancy. She is a Fellow of the Association of Higher Education, and teaches in medical and health science faculties.


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.