About the Project

Spirituality has become a subject area of increasing interest in the area of health research over the last 30 years. Scientific studies have shown protective benefits of religious or spiritual practice, and/or affiliation to a faith community, in a variety of physical and mental disorders [1] [2]. Interest is increasingly turning to the possibility of therapeutic interventions which take advantage of the benefits of such practices and affiliations. However, there is a need for much more research to be undertaken, especially of a more truly inter-disciplinary nature, and there is a need to translate what has been learned into clinical practice.

Which Way Shall I TurnWithin Christian churches, and in many other faith communities, during the same period, there has been much interest in spiritual healing. This has taken the form, variously, of prayer and services for healing from diseases and conditions of all kinds, as well as an interest in “talking cures” such as counseling, meditation and other spiritual practices. There have also been a variety of publications on these topics, including notably a major report from the Church of England: A Time to Heal [3]. Despite this, there is still a need for a theology of healing which is more fully integrated with an understanding of the medical and scientific issues at stake.

The Project for Spirituality, Theology & Health (PSTH) at Durham University was established in 2005, by agreement between the Department of Theology & Religion and the School for Health, to further inter-disciplinary research in spirituality, theology and health, and especially to engage theological research findings with clinical practice.

Aims of the Project

  1. To promote interdisciplinary research and teaching within Durham University and further afield in the subject areas of spirituality, theology and health;
  2. To contribute to discussion and policy process in the churches and other religious communities as well as within the health and social care services.

References

  1. Koenig, H. G., M. E. McCullough, et al. (2001). Handbook of religion and health. New York, Oxford. []
  2. Koenig, H. G. (2005). Faith and mental health. Philadelphia, Templeton Foundation Press. []
  3. House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of, E. (2000). A time to heal: The development of good practice in the healing ministry — A handbook. London, Church House. []