2018 - 12th annual event

Keele Counselling (Research and Practice) Conference

Spirituality, faith and religion in the therapeutic space

Keynote speakers

Keynote: Spiritually in the consulting room: can we keep it out?

Whilst the therapy world has often espoused a secular philosophy, it is questionable whether it is actually possible to exclude spirituality from our work as counsellors and psychotherapists. Spirituality is the ground from which our life attitudes and experiences spring and whether we frame them in religious terms or not, the deep-seated beliefs and ethics which we hold underpin our lives and will inform how we approach life issues. In this talk, Caroline, a committed Buddhist and psychotherapist will explore the meaning of faith in its broadest and narrowest senses and how in all its aspects it can inform our work in many different ways.

Workshop: therapy and spirituality in an age of global crisis

In this workshop, we will explore the impact of global factors and environmental crisis on the roles of counsellors and psychotherapists. Drawing on a spiritual ecopsychology perspective, we will Identify personal and collective psychological responses and look at constructive ways of working with these bigger issues both within a therapy room and beyond.

Caroline Brazier: is a psychotherapist and Buddhist. She is leader of the Tariki training programme in Buddhist psychotherapy and author of seven books on Buddhism, psychotherapy and ecotherapy. Her most recent book, Ecotherapy in Practice: A Buddhist Model was published by Routledge last summer.


These are the areas Sushila plans to cover in her talk: Working with refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants, how meaning gets lost, the community that knows no borders (church, mosque, temple), private and social aspects of religion, when faith gets lost, anger with/fear of God, the moral aspect of religion, heaven and hell – beliefs about after death, frightening beliefs (witchcraft, curses, demon possession), and the need for a story to make sense of ones life.


Sushila Dhall, an Oxford University graduate (English literature), is educated to UKCP level and has been practising for over 20 years, including working privately, for the NHS, and for the third sector. For the past 14 years she has worked for Refugee Resource in Oxford, doing cross-cultural counselling and psychotherapy with survivors of war, torture and societal breakdown, work which is increasingly challenging in the face of rising xenophobia, austerity, and the ‘culture of hostility towards immigrants’. She manages a team of psychotherapists as well as working in the team. Before becoming a psychotherapist Sushila worked for 10 years with homeless and street people in Oxford, and was a Green Party local politician for 14 years. She likes to write, walk by the sea, and garden, and enjoys giving trainings and talks with a view to disseminating as much learning as possible before retirement.

Spirituality, Faith and Religion in the Therapeutic Space – More than a passing fad

Room must be created for the exploration of spirituality, faith and religion in the therapeutic space in the interest of the client. Failure to do so potentially minimises the potential for the client to receive a sense of freedom, healing and liberation from previous diffi

cult life experiences. Without doubt, the client is the most important person in the counselling room, but the openness of mind, sensitivity and the experiential depth of the therapist is key if such explorations are going to effectively occur. Therapists, while reading and attempting to understand their clients, are simultaneously being read and understood by their clients too. In the main, the various ethnic groups residing in the UK, coupled with the increase of migrants from different parts of the globe recognise spirituality, faith and religion as more than a once a week appendage and is crucial to their well being. This emerging phenomenon presents many Western therapists with new and difficult challenges within the therapeutic space, but simultaneously creates numerous possibilities of working in new therapeutic ways while deepening and broadening the myriad forms of human expression.

Workshop - Spirituality, Faith and Religion: Building blocks for human wellbeing

Spirituality, faith and religion are not simply abstract notions of existence, but are arguably crucial elements necessary for one’s wellbeing through life unto death. If this is so, how is it developed and how can it be used? This workshop will explore Spirituality, Faith and Religion as a tool historically used as an essential more of survival, particularly by an oppressed group of people, as well as potentially equipping people in the twenty- first century to deal with the issues that regularly confront their humanity.


Delroy Hall has been in active ministry for over 25 years and is an ordained Bishop within the Church of God of Prophecy. He serves as the pastor in Leeds and the Regional Residing Bishop for Region Five in the North East of England, having the oversight of eight churches. He is a student counsellor/Wellbeing Advisor at Sheffield Hallam University, a part-time tutor at Leeds Beckett University and was appointed as the Sports Chaplain for Sheffield United Football Club in October 2017.

Delroy is a trained psychodynamic psychotherapist with over twenty five years experience in a variety of settings and is a lifelong learner. His doctoral research, “But God Meant it for Good: Interpersonal Conflict in an African Caribbean Faith Community – A Pastoral Study,” examined interpersonal conflict within African Caribbean faith communities. His thesis employed the use of psychoanalytical, psychological, sociological and historical understandings as well as pastoral reflective journals in an attempt to understand human brokenness.

He has published several journal articles and book chapters on pastoral theological issues, counselling and is currently working on chapters looking at black male identity. Furthermore, Delroy is committed to understanding diaspora Black life, and other marginalised groups of people, in light of the great themes of the Bible and modes of counselling in order to raise self-consciousness, self-pride, autonomy and healing.

Alongside his pastoral and therapeutic concerns he still keeps fit. As a former four hundred metre hurdler, ranked No 2 in Great Britain in 1979, he is presently training for competing in triathlons and aims to complete an Iron Man in 2018/2019.

Delroy loves listening to smooth jazz. He is married to Paulette and has twenty two year old twin young women, Saffron and Jordan.

Delroy can be contacted via his email address d.w.hall@leedsbeckett.ac.uk or delroy.hall@shu.ac.uk

Keynote: Of/As/And? How to relate psychology and religion in the therapeutic space.

In the light of Freud's (1927, 1939) criticism of religion as a form of illusion or wish fulfilment, the relationship between religion, counselling and psychotherapy has been characterised by tension. Recent research in the US and Europe has shown that therapists and psychologists on the whole tend to be less religious or spiritual than their clients (Bergin 1990; Delaney et al. 2007). Nevertheless, research indicates that therapists – whether themselves religious or not – would like more input around religion and spirituality during their training, and often feel ill-equipped to work with religious clients (Hofman & Walach 2011). If this is the case, how should counsellors and psychotherapists conceptualise the relationship between religion, counselling and psychotherapy? How should we work with religion in the psychotherapeutic space?

In this talk I will map out three positions regarding the relationship between religion and psychotherapy under the headings: psychology of religion; psychology as religion; and psychology and religion. This talk is an opportunity to explore how as practitioners we approach working with religious clients or clients wanting to explore religious issues in therapy.


Dr. Jane Hunt is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling at the University of Roehampton where she teaches on the M.A. Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. Before moving to Roehampton, she taught on the counselling programmes at Keele University for six years, prior to which she was a Lecturer in Counselling at Salford University. She is an integrative counsellor and CAT practitioner, and has worked as an individual and couple counsellor in a range of therapeutic settings. Jane's research is in the field of counselling and trans and non-binary genders, but her first degree was in religious studies and she is currently completing an MA in Psychology of Religion at Heythrop College. She has recently begun to publish in the field of psychology/ psychotherapy and religion and has a continuing interest in writing and researching in this area.

Research Paper

Title: Is Religion a taboo in therapeutic training?: An exploration of how trainee counsellors who are practising believers of a world religion experienced undertaking counsellor training.

Jeff is a Person-centred counsellor and Supervisor with an abiding interest in spirituality. His PhD research was into the spirituality of the Person-centred approach in relation to Christian and other spiritualities. He now continues his research by interviewing counsellors about their experience and attitude to spirituality, which he finds very rewarding.

Keynote: Unconditional spirituality?

In a secular society spirituality can be the last taboo. Yet, understood broadly in terms of what gives a person's life meaning, value and purpose, it is clearly of vital importance and deserves an honourable space in Counselling. This session will offer an introduction to the theme of spirituality in a therapeutic context, and ask how we can cater for it in our own and other people's lives and discourse. I will draw from my own research into therapists' spirituality, and from the important work of Shelley Scammell and Cassandra Vieten.

Workshop: 'Comfortable spirituality?'

If spirituality is to welcomed into the counselling session, the counsellor needs to be comfortable with the theme of spirituality for themselves and potentially in relation to what the client brings of theirs. This applies just as much if the counsellor holds an agnostic or atheist position as for one who holds a religious or faith position. This workshop will offer the opportunity for us to explore and own our own spirituality (including those who would not wish to embrace the concept) and receive that of others, with the aim of enabling a conversation of acceptance and respect as well as honesty between us. Is this possible? Come and see!