‘Spirituality Serving Survivors of Trauma’

May 16, 2012 in 2011

A groundbreaking International conference to be held in Belfast from March 9-13.Trauma and Spirituality: An International Dialogue, will bring together health professionals and faith leaders from all faiths to look at developing a holistic approach to trauma recovery and examine the role spirituality can play in the healing process.
Eminent speakers from throughout the world will present at the conference including South African Anglican priest Fr Michael Lapsley, (an Anglican priest who suffered personal injury in the struggle against apartheid), Dr Kaethe Weingarten (Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School who has worked with groups in Kosovo and South Africa), Ray Helmick SJ (Boston College), Prof Michael King (University College, London), Prof John Brewer (University of Aberdeen), Bertha McDougall (Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland) and Lord John Alderdice.

Peter McBride, CEO of the Niamh Group (Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health) and Chair of the Journey Towards Healing Committee, who are organising the conference, said, “The health sectors and faith communities tend to deal with trauma in very different ways. The medical world responds to physical and psychological trauma in terms of treatment and medication while the faith community tends to respond to the spiritual impact of trauma through a theological context. For too long, trauma has been addressed from either a health or a faith perspective. This conference breaks that mould by bringing the health and faith perspectives together to develop a new, holistic approach to understanding why life is different after trauma and how to live as fully as possible after trauma.”
“We hope the conference will challenge the health sector to consider the pivotal role faith and spirituality can play in helping the traumatised in our society and in turn, we hope the conference will help faith workers to recognise the importance of medical treatment for those experiencing trauma related illness such as, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Dr Bobby Moore, psychotherapist and Journey Towards Healing Committee Member added, “On many occasions over the years health, emergency and security professionals have relied on the support of faith-based workers when dealing with trauma, for example in the ways communities manage the trauma of suicides.  It would be much easier to join up these approaches if each had a more profound understanding of what the other has to offer.  This conference provides a unique opportunity to deepen respect and mutual acceptance among professional care givers and faith-based workers.”

He continued, “Globally we are facing increasing crises of trust in institutions whether political, financial, health-care or Church.  This conference offers the chance to hold an innovative discussion across professions, perhaps leading to unimagined possibilities.  It is only when we rise above personal or professional vantage points that we see the issues from other perspectives, and perhaps see new solutions.”
For further details of the conference visit www.journeytowardshealing.org 

Journey Towards Healing brings together mental health practitioners and faith leaders from all the religious traditions in Northern Ireland as well as political and community leaders from across all sectors of Northern Irish society.