Innovative DMIN in Spiritual Formation and Relational Neuroscience
The BIG Announcement
Trauma, abuse, mental health, resilience, and moving from surviving to thriving—these are the realities that pastors, ministers, and spiritual directors face in ministering to others and caring for themselves.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by
the scientific data,
and dire social predictions.
In light of all of this, I’m excited to ANNOUNCE…
…This new, pioneering Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) exploring the dynamic connection between spiritual formation and relational neuroscience so that students can experience their own transformation and help foster communities of transformation.
Why a DMIN on Spiritual Formation and Relational Neuroscience?
Our cultural moment is marked by diverse spiritualities, contested ideologies, and a growing mental health crisis. Pastors and church leaders are pressed to be (or faulted for becoming) spiritual gurus, political activists, and trauma-informed professionals.
At a sociological level, we live within a “therapeutic culture” of popular advice about bolstering self-esteem, boosting productivity, building your best life now, and becoming your true self. Within these cultural pressures, it is easy for church leaders to lose the meaning of the gospel and the processes of spiritual formation.
Discipleship in the West has often emphasized what we know (knowledge) and what we do (will). But this emphasis has failed to form us into life with God. And it fails to align with the new insights of relational neuroscience that our embodied and relational life, shaped by our primary attachments, influence what we know and how we act.
What is needed is an integration of the insights of relational neuroscience regarding our relational lives and primary attachments, and the ancient wisdom of the spiritual formation tradition.
Relational neuroscience (see video above)—as a broad field of research and practice—integrates the various fields of cognitive science, neurobiology, developmental psychology, and attachment theory to create a new paradigm of human relational development (pioneered by Daniel Siegel and Allan Schore).
By integrating relational neuroscience and spiritual formation we seek to help make students more resilient in a world full of trauma and more able to love others in a world full of division.
This Doctor of Ministry cohort in Relational Neuroscience and Spiritual Formation combines ancient wisdom and contemporary research to cultivate holistic and relational models of spiritual formation, training pastors and leaders to be flexible and adaptable as they guide others on the paths of life with God.
Three Year Framework
Year One: Attaching to God
The first year will focus on attachment theory and attaching to God through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
Year Two: The Hope for Transformation
The second year will combine the spiritual pathways of the ancient tradition of spiritual formation and the neural pathways opened up by relational neuroscience.
Year Three: Loving in a Traumatized World
The third year will move into mission by focusing on the connections between theology, therapeutic culture, and trauma, and creating communities of care and transformation.
Who is Leading this DMIN Cohort? Meet Geoff and Cyd Holsclaw
Dr. Geoff Holsclaw (PhD) is affiliate professor of theology and has over 20 years of pastoral experience.
Geoff is the co-host of the Embodied Faith podcast, which explores a neuroscience-informed spiritual formation. He is the author of Transcending Subjects: Augustine, Hegel, and Theology, co-author of Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier, and co-author of Does God Really Like Me? Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us (with Cyd Holsclaw).
Cyd Holsclaw (PCC) is an author, spiritual director, and pastor. She is a trauma-informed, Jesus-centered, integrative coach focused on embodied practices and building a secure attachment to God.
She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation as well as a Certified Spiritual Director with The Order of the Common Life. She co-hosts the Embodied Faith podcast and is the co-author of Does God Really Like Me? Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With You (with Geoff Holsclaw).