2023-24 | Mind, Soul and Trauma


Mind, Soul and Trauma


Knowledge Exchange Fellow
Professor Joshua Hordern   |   Faculty of Theology and Religion   |   University of Oxford

Partner Organisation
Mind & Soul Foundation   


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The last thirty years have seen an increasing awareness of the role that clergy play in trauma response. As the UK becomes increasingly trauma literate and with projections suggesting that demand on NHS mental health systems will only increase, it seems fair to assume that trauma will not only remain part of clergy ministry but may well become a larger part of the pastoral role clergy have. Despite this, we also know that Anglican clergy receive very little training on trauma-informed care, especially on how to care for themselves while providing support to those who have experienced trauma.

Recognising these realities, our project aims to develop resources to support clergy in the delivery of trauma focused pastoral care, reducing rates of clergy vicarious trauma and thereby strengthening the broader mental health ecosystem. To do so, in September 2023 Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and Religion partnered with the Mind and Soul Foundation, a leading UK charity and thinktank focused on sharing psychological best practice with clergy. Working together we will produce a suite of resources aimed at helping clergy to develop awareness of vicarious trauma, preventing vicarious trauma and supporting posttraumatic growth. Potential deliverables will include: training for ordinands, resources for clergy professional development, and proposals for liturgical resources. The project will also play a convening role, hosting a series of expert workshops and a conference aimed at church leaders. A key part of this project will bring together expertise about vicarious trauma among clergy with relevant expertise about other caring professions (e.g. nurses, social workers, teachers, and mental health professionals).

The project builds on the work of Oxford’s Rev. Prof. Joshua Hordern who has explored NHS collaboration with civic society actors, especially religious bodies. Hordern’s work was initially funded by a TORCH knowledge exchange fellowship, which contributed to the publication of Compassion in Healthcare (2020) in which Hordern developed a theological understanding of healthcare provision as an aspect of civic life, emphasising the importance of religious literacy as a necessary element of effective health and social care provision.


Rev. Prof. Joshua Hordern, Faculty of Theology & Religion

Jess Wyatt, Faculty of Theology & Religion

Ed Chan-Stroud, Faculty of Theology & Religion 

Mind and Soul Foundation:

Rev. Will Van Der Hart,

Rev. Dr. Kate Middleton

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