Godly Play as Spiritual Intervention presented at International Conference for Children’s Spirituality

Doug Watts and Ryan Campbell recently presented a workshop at the 15th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CHILDREN’S SPIRITUALITY, convened by the International Association for Children’s Spirituality, at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, UK.

15th International Conference on  Children's Spirituality Workshop Leaders

15th International Conference on Children’s Spirituality Workshop Leaders

The theme of this year’s conference, SPIRITUALITY AND THE WHOLE CHILD: INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES, matches closely the focus of the work Watts and Campbell do at Children’s Medical Center – Dallas. 

The workshop Campbell and Watts presented was based on an article written by Campbell and The Rev. Cheryl Minor called “The Parable of the Sower: a case study examining the use of the Godly Play method as a spiritual intervention on a psychiatric unit of a major children’s hospital.” The article was published this year in the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality.

Over seventy participants attended the Conference, representing thirteen countries from around the world. The conference provides for educators, social worker, health care workers, counsellors, psychologists, chaplains, practical theologians, and others  to share their latest research and practice.

Other highlights of the conference included the keynote speakers; John (Jack) Miller, University of Toronto, Canada “Equinox Holistic Alternative School: an integrated approach to learning”,  Joyce Ann Mercer  PhD, LCSW, Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, Yale Divinity School, USA “Restorative Spirituality: hope for traumatized children”, and Jacqueline Watson  PhD, Visiting Fellow, University of Exeter and University of East Anglia, UK “Every Child Still Matters: interdisciplinary approaches to the spirituality of the child”.

Campbell says, “Two of the workshops focused specifically on aspects of Godly Play, though the language of Children’s Spirituality that we share as a Godly Play community was abundantly articulated in the majority of presentations, conversations and dissertations that brought the circle together.”

Watts was especially glad to reconnect with Godly Play friend Joyce Mercer. “You may remember, Joyce was a keynote speaker at our 2014 North American Godly play conference in Toronto.  Another highlight was hearing from persons around the world about the amazing work being done in research and education to bring into the light the importance of children and the need to nurture the spirituality that resides in each child.”

Campbell and Watts met with some people who attended the 2015 North American Godly Play Conference in Sewanee, Tennessee, some who were long-time practitioners in the UK, and some from the Netherlands and Australia who were just hearing about Godly Play for the first time.

Watts says, “The gathering was an important reminder of the work being done across the world, lifting up the spirituality of children as a serious and necessary aspect of nurturing our future generations. It made clear the need to embrace and encourage collaborations of diverse communities as we seek to continue to exchange ideas, cultures and practices as they relate to the children we support across the cultural landscape. We were also reminded of the amazing opportunity we have in the Godly Play community to make a difference.  The creative process at the heart of Godly Play is being taught in many shapes and forms—all of which are a gift and help bring hope and healing for children and those who love and care for them.”