This Knowledge Exchange project grew out of the Theology and Therapy research project, which ended in 2012.  Both projects received funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council to support collaboration between the Schools of Divinity and Health in Social Science/Counselling & Psychotherapy. Theology and Therapy used archival material and oral history interviews to investigate the intertwining of religion, counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland from 1945 to 2000.

Researchers presented preliminary findings in numerous venues, including at two conferences dedicated to the topic. Feedback from these activities revealed that many counsellors and psychotherapists do not find much opportunity to discuss issues of faith or spirituality for themselves or their clients. Similarly, it showed that many members of faith communities perceive they have little opportunity to discuss the interface between pastoral care, spiritual counselling, spiritual direction, counselling and psychotherapy. These observations prompted questions about boundaries and overlaps between these spheres of practice. This one-year follow-on project was put together to address these questions, to develop a better understanding of how life history research impacts contemporary life, and above all to encourage a ongoing conversation on this topic in Scotland.

This follow-on project began with the creation of a number of short Readers’ Theatre scripts from those longer oral history transcripts for which the interviewees had given permission to use publicly. The resulting  scripts became the focal points for workshops held throughout Scotland for counsellors and psychotherapists, ministers and chaplains, and the general public.  Discussions at these workshops explored contemporary experiences, thoughts, identities, and practices regarding the relationship between counselling and spirituality. At various points in the planning and implementation of these workshops, an Advisory Board of community collaborators met to provide advice, venues, and access to their networks of potential participants.

Between November 2012 and April 2013, 16 workshops were held in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling, Edinburgh, Inverness, and St. Andrews. From May to July, follow-up interviews were conducted with 47 workshop participants who had agreed to share their ongoing reflections and thoughts on the experience several months after participating. A celebration of the project will be held in October 2013.

Preliminary findings from the discussions and follow-up interviews can be found here: Themes from Workshops.