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Call for Papers – Spiritual Abuse: Coercive Control in Religions

4th – 5th September 2020

Department of Psychology and Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Chester, UK

The term ‘Spiritual Abuse’ has increasingly been used to name the phenomenon of abuse, coercion and control within religious and spiritual traditions and contexts. This conference provides a space for practitioners, academics, statutory agencies, other relevant stakeholders and survivor groups to explore the growing awareness of this phenomenon from multiple religious, spiritual and non-religious perspectives.
Potential themes include (but are not limited to):

  • Terminology and concepts
  • Experience-based narratives and accounts
  • Methodological issues in the study of spiritual abuse
  • Prevention strategies
  • Responses and interventions
  • Safeguarding, health and well-being
  • Counselling and psychiatric approaches
  • Legislation and legal perspectives
  • Religion/tradition specific contexts
  • Role and styles of power
  • Role of religious sources in legitimation
  • Intersectionality, inclusion and diversity (gender, sexualities, race, class, age, disability and other forms of identity)

Hosted, jointly, by the School of Psychology, and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester, the conference invites proposals for individual and group presentations, posters, and themed panels. Alternative formats are also welcome.
Please send 300 word (approx.) abstracts and include presentation title, and author’s/authors’ names and affiliations in a Word Document to
The conference team is committed to making this event accessible and productive for everyone, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity.

We adhere to the TRS UK Code of Conduct:

Steering Group:

  • Dr Lisa Oakley, Associate Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Chester
  • Dr Dawn Llewellyn, Senior Lecturer in Christian Studies, University of Chester
  • Dr Wendy Dossett, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Chester
  • Prof. David Clough, Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Chester
  • Dr Kathryn Kinmond, Psychologist & Psychotherapist, Hon Senior Lecturer in Counselling, University of Chester
  • Mr Richard Scorer, Head of Abuse Law, Slater and Gordon
  • Dr David Hilborn, Principal Moorland College
  • Prof. Gordon Lynch, Professor of Modern Theology, University of Kent