Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

Research, Reviews, Conferences

Archive for the ‘Psychosis and Spirituality: Inner Journeys in a Time Of Transition’ Category

Psychosis and Spirituality: Inner Journeys in a Time Of Transition





Psychosis and Spirituality: Inner Journeys in a Time Of Transition 

10th November 2011. Art and Design Academy, Liverpool John Moores University.

This conference will focus on psychosis and its relationship to spirituality, altered states of consciousness and unusual experiences and how these can be used constructively to facilitate recovery in people given a mental health diagnosis. Contributors are experienced in clinical practice and research, neuroscience and spiritual practices. The day will thereby provide a groundbreaking combination of practical ideas, new psychological understanding, opportunities for experiential work and lively discussion. This conference will appeal to mental health professionals, services users, carers and anyone seeking greater understanding in this rapidly developing area. 


Speakers’ Biographical Notes and Workshop Details:


Les Lancaster

Les is Professor of Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, and part of the Adjunct Research Faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, California. He is a past Chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society, and currently President of the International Transpersonal Association. His published works include Mind Brain and Human Potential, winner of a Science and Medical Network Best Book Award, The Essence of Kabbalah, and Approaches to Consciousness: the Marriage of Science and Mysticism and contributions to various journals. 

Dr Mike Jackson

Mike is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, University of Bangor, living and working in the NHS in North Wales. He has a long term interest in benign psychosis, and has conducted and published research in this area throughout his career.

Isabel Clarke

Isabel is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, currently employed as Psychological Therapies Lead in a new NHS Acute Inpatient Unit (Woodhaven, New Forest). Her aim is to establish therapeutic and non stigmatizing approaches at the heart of the mental health service, and to this end she has published with colleagues an evaluation (Durrant et al. 2007) and an edited book (Clarke and Wilson 2008) to demonstrate how this can be done. Her work on psychosis and spirituality opens the way to a radical rethinking of openness to unusual experience which takes it away from the illness model. This is published in Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God (2008) and she edited, Psychosis and Spirituality: consolidating the new paradigm (2010). Details of her publications and activities can be found on her web site

Workshop Title: “Ways of Working beyond the Psychosis/Spirituality Threshold. Engagement and Mindfulness”

Summary: People who have become stuck on the far side of the threshold between ordinary life and ‘unshared reality’ (which includes psychosis) can be hard to reach; hard to talk to. This workshop will introduce new ways of working with people who find themselves on or over that edge; ways of working which have been found helpful in both forming therapeutic alliances and enabling people to understand and take charge of their own process. Mindfulness is crucial here as it is the key to managing the threshold. The workshop will introduce varied ways in which mindfulness can be used in order to take charge of this process, both for the individual and to be used in therapy.

Dr Christopher Findlay

Christopher is a general psychiatrist practising in Cheshire. He has been a member of the executive committee of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists since 2000. He is interested in neuroscience and psychotherapy.

Workshop title: “Spirituality and the body in the healing of psychosis”

Summary The workshop will be about the use of EMDR and sensorimotor psychotherapy in helping people recover from trauma in a range of psychiatric disorders including psychosis. Spiritual resources are an implicit part of this process and transcendent and transformational experience is commonly witnessed.

Janice Hartley

Janice is an independent mental health trainer, a director and volunteer for the Spiritual Crisis Network, and an ex-user of psychiatric services. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in consciousness and transpersonal psychology from Liverpool John Moores University

Workshop title: “The Hero’s (and Heroine’s) Journey”

Summary: This workshop will introduce anthropologist Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ (based on his classic book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’), as a means of promoting empowerment and recovery from psychosis. Participants will be encouraged to explore the Hero’s (or Heroine’s) Journey as an alternative non-medical framework for their own or their clients’ experiences. The concept is especially helpful to anyone seeking to challenge stigma in mental health.

Dr Jessica Bockler

Jessica is a professional theatre director and actress, specialising in physical theatre and expressive movement. She trained at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts from 1996 to 1999 and has since led many diverse arts projects with professional performers and non-actors alike. Jessica specialises in arts & mental health and is currently Arts Officer of Creative Alternatives, an ‘arts on prescription‘ programme in the borough of Sefton, Merseyside. Jessica recently completed a PhD in Psychology, examining the psychosomatic effects of self-expressive theatre practices upon the actor.

Workshop Title: “The Psychosomatics of Creativity: How Mindful Play enhances Wellbeing and Health”

Summary: In this workshop we’ll explore how expressive arts practices — from spontaneous movement and voice work to sketching and writing — can help us connect to a deeper sense of self and bring this into outer expression, thus revitalising our wellbeing and sense of purpose. The workshop will highlight the role of the body in the creative act as healing process. I propose that the regular practice of expressive arts can facilitate deep body-based introspection which in turn enables us to gain greater self-insight and congruence through expressive engagement with felt senses and corresponding images. We’ll also explore what conditions need to be in place so that the creative journey can lead to healing transformation. I shall highlight mindfulness as a central factor, without which creative play may descend into mere diversion. This workshop is grounded in my PhD research at Liverpool John Moores University, which examined the psychosomatics of self-expressive theatre practices, and my work as Arts Officer of Creative Alternatives (an ‘arts on prescription’ programme for adults with mental ill health in the borough of Sefton, Merseyside, see

Dr David King (Chair)

David is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist — previously a general nurse and psychiatric nurse — providing clinical lead, professional advice and supervision to the Clinical Psychologists in the four Community Mental Health Teams across Liverpool. His approach to understanding and working with people with psychosis, as with all severe and complex mental problems, is via the principles of treating the person as being unexceptional (in exceptional circumstances), and of ‘recovery’. His therapeutic approach is integrative. For many years he has also read widely and intensively in philosophy, comparative mysticism and transpersonal theory, and is currently writing a book-length work intended to reassess and enhance ‘integral theory’ on its own terms.

Contact: Chris Clarke

%d bloggers like this: