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Spirituality Research and Innovation Group

Date: Thursday 18 May 2017

Time: 2-4pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 2.57, Trinity School of Nursing and Midwifery, D’Olier St, Dublin.

Title of the Presentation:Spirituality is a public health issue

Presenter: Dr Richard Egan University of Otago

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Public health, as opposed to the publicly funded health system, is a discipline that aims to prevent illness, and protect and promote population health and well-being. Public health efforts have largely centred on the understanding, tracking and prevention of diseases. However, there is growing support for a 'new public health' approach, which takes a holistic view, encompassing four key dimensions of health: physical, mental, social and spiritual. This holistic approach parallels the New Zealand Māori model of health, Te Whare Tapa Whā, a model that highlights the interdependence of Te Taha Wairua (spirituality), Te Taha Hinengaro (emotional and psychological health), Te Taha Tinana (physical health) and Te Taha Whānau (social wellbeing). Nonetheless, public health engagement with the spiritual dimension remains largely theoretical and implicit. Despite a growing literature base at the healthcare level, spirituality remains relatively overlooked in public health peer-reviewed literature and practice. This omission is an obstacle to achieving the public health goal of ‘healthy populations’. This presentation aims to present these issues and ask questions about how to develop and map this new area of research.

Dr Richard Egan lives, works and surfs in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is a senior lecturer in health promotion, based in the Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit, Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago. His background includes five years working as a health promoter / professional advisor in a Public Health Unit and five years secondary school teaching.  Richard’s Master’s thesis examined spirituality in New Zealand state schools, his PhD thesis explored spirituality in end-of-life care and he has qualifications in theology, english literature, religious studies, and public health. Richard’s academic interests centre on supportive care in cancer, health promotion and the place of spirituality in health and wellbeing. Richard is a past-president of the New Zealand Public Health Association and is currently on the Board of the Health Promotion Forum. Sarah (wife), Benji (son, aged eight) and Milo (dog) remind Richard about ‘what matters most’.


Date: Thursday 23 March 2017

Time: 2-4pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 2.57, Trinity School of Nursing and Midwifery, D’Olier St, Dublin.

Title of the Presentation: Do the ancient roots of Celtic shamanism have a bearing on holistic health today?

Presenter: Karen Ward, MA, B.Sc (hons), Counselling Psychotherapist and Supervisor @ the Rhiannon Clinic and Energy Therapist, Shamanic Teacher, Mentor and Supervisor @ the Slí an Chroí Clinic and School of Shamanism

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Karen Ward, is well known as Holistic Therapy Presenter from RTE’s ‘Health Squad’ and Energy Therapist from the BBC’s ‘Last Resort’ and is author of ‘Change a Little to Change a Lot’ and the recent Moon Mná Diary-Journal for women.  Trained in the Celtic traditions and Q’ero Peruvian Lineage, Karen is a co-director with her husband John Cantwell of the Slí an Chroí Clinic and School of Shamanism – holistic living – in Dublin, Meath and sacred sites in Ireland and abroad. Karen has co-presented on Shamanism, Spirituality and Sexuality at the DCU International Conferences on Sexualities 2014 and 2015. She is a member of the Spiritual Interest Group, Trinity College School of Nursing and Midwifery and has presented her PhD research at their Inaugural International Conference 2015. Karen is also honoured to work with Towards Healing, co-facilitating Self Care, Reclaiming My Sexuality and Trauma Recovery Programmes for survivors of religious abuse. She is the founding Counsellor with the Smashing Times Theatre Company’s ground breaking and award winning suicide prevention and intervention drama workshops and performances 2005 to date. She is an established lecturer & facilitator of motivational & inspiring Talks on a variety of holistic health subjects. 

Synopsis of the lecture

Both in Ireland and internationally, counselling psychotherapy has become increasingly popular as a means to redress life issues and learn new behaviours designed to sustain the optimum changes made mentally and emotionally during treatment. However, many find this approach somewhat limiting if seeking a connection with their personal spirituality (Kuhling & Mullholland, 2011; Cooper & McLeod, 2011). One of the emerging paradigms in counselling psychotherapy, transpersonal psychology and the integration of the spiritual is that of shamanism – ancient holistic practises - and related energy therapies (Wilber, 2001; Feinstein & Eden, 2008; Frick, 2011). Shamanic energy therapists aim to engage at the deepest sub physical and psycho-emotional level, referred to as the energetic, which now has an established body of scientific research (Money, 2001; MacKinnon, 2012) allowing positive and ethical intervention to promote health outcomes for the client (Levin, 2011; Fotiou, 2012). Core principles of shamanic energy therapy are that the human body has an energy (aura) which is connected to their spiritual aspect and permeates the physical, mental, emotional from birth to death. This energy (referred to as ‘chi’ or ‘ki’ in Eastern countries) is felt but not visible to the untrained. Reflecting research literature (Koenig et al, 1999; Sorajjakool & Lamberton, 2004), Eisteach, the quarterly magazine for the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) has increasingly published articles on this phenomenon and the integration of holistic related techniques and practises. Karen has developed a new shamanic energy technique which incorporates the spiritual and energetic into a counselling session. She has used this Energy Therapy Technique (ETT) in her Clinic for many years and currently trains other Irish counsellors in its use.

In our busy modern world, it is easy to feel disconnected from ourselves, our loved ones and life in general. Mental, emotional, physical and increasingly soul stress can leave us with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of the myriad of situations we are faced with in our daily lives. Ireland – the Island of Saints and Scholars has been known for centuries as mythical place where spirituality is felt in a liminal, mystical way. Karen Ward presents a way to tap into the ancient roots of our heritage which allows us to reconnect in a sustainable way that empowers, strengthens and renews our holistic health. She will offer a fascinating perspective which is practical, inclusive of all faiths and no faiths and all walks of life.


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