This was triggered in response to the need for a fully spiritual and bespoke framework for the new Theology and Counselling degree to be launched in September 2014. Birthing this project meant collaborating and bringing together the very specific and diverse gifts of the team, both in the therapeutic and the theological worlds (founded on our deep personal faith).
It was the culmination of many years of frustration of working with parts of models and therapeutic tools that did not quite seem to provide a fully integrated, all inclusive and comprehensive approach to counselling from a spiritual and Christian perspective for the range of people, cultures and issues that our students and we were facing.
Our theology and world-view incorporates a critical realistic approach to epistemology. Based solidly on the Christian Scriptures, we affirm that truth is grasped through a dialogue between text, traditions of human thought and interpretation, and reason informed by experience.
Key theological foundations for us are incarnation (which means the embodied experience matters and has value before God, ~including disordered body and disability) and eschatology (because of the tension between the “already” and the “not yet”). Our commitment to critical realism means that we are willing to be hospitable to difference and open to finding God in unexpected places.
We do hope that you will enjoy the challenge of joining with us on this journey of exploration and being firmly rooted in relationship.
We believe that it is fundamental to who we are as human beings, that created by a relational and Trinitarian God, we relate and look for relationship within ourselves, with the divine, humanity and the created world. So our relationships are outward as well as inwards.
While people are physically located in time and space, humans are impacted by the effect of relationships and the environment on their developing sense of self. The language of Self and the Self-psychologies, neurobiology, attachment theory and developmental psychology fit well with this relational anthropology.
Our humanity is embodied. Spirituality and sexuality are at the very core of our being, which both touch and affect us within our fleshly bodies at a very deep level. While wanting to work with the parts, we recognise that these are aspects of being human. We take seriously the transpersonal dimensions of human life and the embodied nature of feeling and memory.
Meaning making is more than a cognitive capacity by which we reflect on our lives. Narrative and telling our story is crucial for humans, both our individual stories and the bigger metanarratives with which we identify and by which we explain who we are.
This view is compatible with the scriptural view of mystery by which we know that we do not know and are content. The relational connection with God, with others, with the world, means we can hold on to an ultimate sense for our existence. So meaning and trust are closely related.
This is the capacity and need of human beings to feel in charge of themselves, to be able to have impact and significance in the world, and to make a difference. It can be in tension with our need for relationship. Agency is closely related to hope; we act as human beings, in the hope of achievement. Our sense of self and of our social identity is bound up with our agency, our capacity to do something and to act out of a sense of capacity to be creative.