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Working with Trauma as a Psycho-Spiritual Phenomenon


Dr. John McDargh

Presentation entitled, Trauma as a Psycho-Spiritual Phenomenon

The Institute for Spiritual Life & Psychotherapy, Inc.

Held at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Hanover, MA

January 26, 2019

On January 26th, Dr. John McDargh, retired professor of psychology and theology from Boston College Department of Theology and retired adjunct faculty and Director of The Center for Psychotherapy and Spirituality at William James College led a remarkable presentation entitled Working with Trauma as a Psycho-Spiritual Phenomenon.


The event was our largest training seminar to date with participants including licensed counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, as well as Masters-level psychotherapy students from nearby colleges.

Dr. McDargh's presentation invited participants to discuss the role of creating community, a sense of belonging in the face of trauma, and also demonstrated this integral component of healing by building on participants' contributions and by compassionate, evocative storytelling.

In so doing, Dr. McDargh demonstrated how trauma can affect the spiritual lives of trauma survivors, compromising their relationship to their chosen religion and their ability and willingness to practice the core values of their faith.

Along these lines, Dr. McDargh grounded his presentation in his interest in Psychoanalytic Object Relations theories, particularly the work of Ana-Maria Rizzuto, and her groundbreaking study, The Birth of the Living God.

Dr. McDargh also broadened this clinical perspective by including other perspectives, making several recommendations for further exploration and resource-building.

Most tenderly, Dr. McDargh also paid homage to his mentor by framing the gathering with an invitation to creatively, playfully explore the imaginal realm through his use of poetry and metaphor--a teaching tool he learned early on during his own education and one which he also used to honor the recently departed Mary Oliver.


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