Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

I generally write a short reflection for our (Cliftonville Moravian Church) newsletter. Here is the May instalment:

Quite a few years ago now, when I travelled extensively with work, I would often pick up items of interest from the countries, town or cities I visited.  One of my favourite items is a Malaysian painted face mask I bought whilst visiting the Johor Bahru region, a few miles across the causeway from Singapore.

These masks, I later found out, were historically tribal attire that was used in a range of ceremonies, in addition to decorating homes.  I was struck by the intricacies of the hand-painted design and the beautiful mixture of vibrant colours that really brought an inanimate object to life.

And so this ‘souvenir’ sits proudly on a display shelf in my sitting room; the colours catch my eye each and every time in walk in to the room.  It is a welcoming face that reminds me of an earlier period in my life, filled with travel and the joy of learning about new and diverse cultures, some of which are significantly different to our own.

The mask is an item known to many cultures throughout antiquity.  In our own contemporary society, we frequently ‘put on a mask’, although in a metaphorical sense. We hide our true emotions behind that mask, which can be multifaceted and every changing, but however it manifests itself, it always has a spiritual dimension at its core.

How many times, I wonder, do we hide our true emotions behind a smile or an upbeat demeanour?  How often, do we say ‘I’m fine’, when the truth is somewhat different, or even radically different – when we are struggling to cope with a painful life event or series of perceived failures? Or what about those instances when we wrestle with a spiritual malaise that there seems to be no answer to?

In truth, we can never really tell at first glance whether or not the facade is real or forced; it can take some time to unearth emotional turmoil and pain bubbling underneath the surface.  And that is why we need to take to heart that aphorism attributed, sometimes to Plato, but by others to John Watson: ‘Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’. How hard that battle actually is we can only guess at, in each individual we meet, from an emotional and physical distance.

As a therapist I see people from all walks of life; many exhibit an outward demeanour of confidence and contentment with life, but behind the mask, constructed to please others, or even to convince themselves, there is much suffering and pain, struggling to find an outlet.  As a Minister I know that those who care for others are sometimes the hardest hit and feel under the most pressure to retreat beneath the facade they have either carefully constructed and cultivated, or has been projected on to them.

But society is changing, and I would contend, very much for the better.  No doubt you are aware that recently, in their quest to encourage us all to tackle the stigma and prejudice that still sadly accompanies mental illness, the new generation of the royal family have been very proactive in encouraging us all to step from behind the facade and to talk openly of our emotions.  That can only be a good thing, for individuals, but also for wider society. The typical ‘stiff upper lip’ approach of our culture has been advantageous in displaying fortitude and Stoicism, but leaves us ill-prepared to deal with the emotional health and wellbeing of ourselves and others.

As a community of faith, we should be especially alert to these messages of openness and honesty.  After all, Jesus himself was a master of seeing beyond the facade and engaging with the real person behind it.  When we consider those many awe-inspiring and life-changing encounters he had in his earthly ministry – reaching out and touching the spiritual core of those on the margins.  We read of a Jesus who could see the pain of the Samaritan woman, the struggles sick man at the Pool of Bethesda, and the spiritual distress of the woman who was haemorrhaging and ostracised from her community.

Also as a community of faith, we are reminded in an equally important manner of the Jesus who saw beyond the legalistic and pious mask of the Pharisees, and found within a dearth of spiritual connectedness with the God of grace and love for all.

So what do we do?  Where do we go from here?  Well, it is no small step to admit our vulnerability, to each other as a loving, Christian community; it is no small step to open up and admit when we need help or support, emotional or otherwise.  It can be hard too, to see those around us in the light of their own struggles.  Remember those words of the famous Lutheran Minister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote in his book ‘The Cost of Discipleship’:  “Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. Following Christ means passio passiva, suffering because we have to suffer.”  And I would add, not being ashamed to own that suffering and to let others enter into our emotional and spiritual lives to share in all that we go through; we can only do that by ridding ourselves of the ‘all is well’ mask.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer did of course put this more poetically than I ever could, when he observed: We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” And we can only do that when we begin to chip away at that facade and reveal our true selves to those we live in community with, and to live honestly in the light of God’s love.

We all have burdens that we carry – some less significant and disabling that others – but they are burdens nonetheless that prompt us to turn to God.  We all know those immensely powerful words, uttered by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.

But as we turn to God, we need to be cognizant of the fact that he works through others in their vulnerability, and opens us up to new possibilities through our vulnerability.  Here, I want to finish this short reflection with the words of Teresa of Avila:

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”

So I look now at my magnificent souvenir mask, as an object of beauty and a reminder of new cultural vistas explored, but also as an aide memoire that the mask is not always meant to be worn – the contours of our true selves is infinitely more cherished and loved by God than any facade we may construct.

Every blessing, Scott



For those of you who are interested, I’ve updated my Logotherapy & Existential Analysis website (  Logotherapy is a meaning-based approach to psychotherapy founded by the Psychiatrist & Holocaust Survivor, Prof. Viktor Frankl.

Mirabilis Logo

Spirituality, Mental Health & Reflective Practice

Thursday 7th April 2016, 1pm – 5pm

Mirabilis Health, Holywood House

The interface between spirituality and mental health is becoming increasingly important for Clergy, Chaplains and Pastoral Carers. The emotional demands placed upon those working in pastoral care are such that reflective practice is invaluable in promoting practitioner wellbeing, facilitating good practice and optimising effectiveness.

If you are a Pastoral Carer (Minister, Priest, Chaplain, Pastor, Student, Youth/Children/Family Worker, Member-Care or Pastoral-Care Team Members, etc.) or are just interested in finding out more about the topic or the application of reflective practice in your current role, then we would like to invite YOU to attend this exciting seminar!


1.  “Reflective Practise – Practical Applications in Pastoral Work and Self-Care” by Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie

2.  “Religion and Psychiatry – Religious, ill, or both?” by Dr. Volodimir Bezulowsky MD

3.  Reflective group

There will be time for refreshments, reflection and discussion.


Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie BSc., MSc., MDiv., PhD., GradCertTh, FRSA, Academic Associate in Logotherapy (Dublin), Diploma in Logotherapy & Existential Analysis (Dublin/Vienna) is a Logotherapist and Existential Analyst offering one-to-one therapy sessions and bespoke training at Mirabilis Health. Scott is an ordained Minister and has experience in pastoral care in a range of settings; he has also been offering mindfulness training and spiritual direction at Mirabilis for a number of years.

Dr. Volodimir Bezulowsky MD, is an Associate Specialist Psychiatrist and Accredited EMDR therapist at Mirabilis Health. He has past experience in Substance Misuse and worked for eleven years in an Adolescent Mental Health unit. He has a special interest in psychiatry and spirituality, and regularly offers mental health training to clergy, chaplains, pastoral or youth workers in faith-based organisations.


Mirabilis Health, Holywood House, 1 Innis Court, Holywood, Co. Down, BT18 9HF


In order to secure your place in this seminar please confirm your attendance in advance. Closing date for registrations is Thursday 24th March.

Price £45.00

Payments can be made by cash, credit/debit card or cheques written to ‘Mirabilis Health’


For further information and to register please contact

Arlington Barron (Training Manager, Mirabilis Health)

Tel: 02890 426918


I’ve set up another website – here – and a facebook page – here – specifically for my Logotherapy and Existential Analysis work and interests.  Please do check them out! I’ll be posting all related material on these sites from now on (although if there is overlap I will of course post them here too).

Webpage Capture

Logotherapy Facebook Page Capture

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Image courtesy of Ambro /

As philosopher Alain de Botton points out in this excellent short film, ‘having some psychotherapy is just about the most significant and interesting thing you could do to improve your chances of contentment – in relationships, at work, and with friends and family’.

We are all complex creatures who are flawed and struggle at times to make sense of ourselves and the world we inhabit.  Contrary to popular belief, psychotherapy is not just for people who live with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.  Rather it helps individuals to understand themselves more fully and to live life more authentically.

The form of psychotherapy I practice – Logotherapy – is essentially meaning-centred therapy and is built on the premise that finding meaning in life and life circumstances is essential.  The other part of Logotherapy is Existential Analysis – this helps us to engage with ourselves and to explore how we fit into the world.

Want to find out more?  You can e-mail me at

I’ve recently received my diploma in Logotherapy & Existential Analysis from the Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland (Dublin) and the International Association of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (Vienna).  I will therefore be offering Logotherapy (a meaning-centred approach to the treatment of a condition, illness, or maladjustment) at Mirabilis Health in Holywood, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, an innovative mixed private practice of psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists (

Prof. Alexander Batthyany of The Viktor Frankl Institute Vienna writes this of the background to this specific therapeutic approach:

The development of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis dates back to the 1930s. On the basis of Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology the psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997) laid down the foundations of a new and original approach which he first published in 1938. Logotherapy/Existential Analysis, sometimes called the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy”, is an internationally acknowledged and empirically based meaning-centered approach to psychotherapy.

In Logotherapy/Existential Analysis (LTEA) the search for a meaning in life is identified as the primary motivational force in human beings (

Similarly, Dr. Stephen J. Costello, Director of the Irish Frankl Institute explains the range of conditions and circumstances in which logotherapy can be utilised:

Those who have identifiable symptoms such as:

• phobias

• obsessive-compulsions

• stuttering

• sexual dysfunctions

• stress

• depression

• anxiety

• addictions

• panic attacks


Those who are questioning or exploring the meaning of life, love, relationships, sexuality, work, or experiencing meaninglessness, boredom, emptiness or despair, or simply feel that they have not reached their full potential or perceive they are leading an unfulfilled life ( 

The first logotherapy service available in Northern Ireland will be launched shortly.  I will be initially offering consultations on Tuesday evenings and all-day Friday.  Should you require any further information, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail (  Alternatively, you can contact Mirabilis Health directly – details are available on our website (

Mirabilis Website New

Mirabilis Health is pleased to announce an exciting new course for those involved in ministry and pastoral care:

Self-Care for Pastoral Carers: A Specialist Workshop

Trainers: Rev. Dr. Scott PeddieDr. Volodimir Bezulowsky (Psychiatrist) & Dr. Paul Miller (Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychogeriatrician)

Date:  Thursday 26th February 2015 from 1-5pm (tea/coffee/biscuits available from 12.30pm)

Venue: Mirabilis Health, Holywood House, Holywood, BT18 9HF

Cost:   £45 per person (includes refreshments)

This interactive course is designed especially for Ministers/Priests/Pastors/Pastoral Carers and will comprise the following sessions:

  • Understanding, recognising and managing stress.
  • Exploring the implications of mental/physical well-being and good pastoral care.
  • Revisiting that Christian response: the interface between faith and self-care.

Here’s what people say about our courses:

  • ‘Excellent afternoon. Very helpful and informative. Both presenters’ (Scott & Volodimir) way of communicating and responding to us created the perfect atmosphere and modelled the kind of listening and attentive response they advocated’.
  • ‘Absolutely excellent. Very clear, helpful and relevant’.

Other courses that will be made available in the forthcoming year in our pastoral care series include: dementia, eating disorders, trauma, meaning-centred pastoral care and suicide awareness (You Must Ask).

I do hope that you can join us on the Self-Care for Pastoral Carers course! To book your place, or to find out more about our other courses, please e-mail me ( at your earliest convenience.

With best wishes,


Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie (Mirabilis Health)

I recently came across a fantastic short documentary entitled ‘The Vicar of Baghdad’.  A well-known figure in both the ecclesiastical and popular realms, The Reverend Canon Andrew White is known for his dogged determination to provide a strong Christian witness in the war-torn suburbs of Iraq’s capital city.

White is vicar of St George’s Church, Baghdad, the only Anglican church left in Iraq. Attached to the church is a clinic and a school, providing a powerful outreach and much needed practical help to the entire population.

As President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Andrew White is also deeply involved in mediation between different factions in the Iraqi civil war, notably Sunni and Shia sects.

‘The Vicar of Baghdad’ shows White visiting his parishioners in the most dangerous areas of the city and paints a picture of a man who is determined to live out his vocation; it would clearly be anathema to him to have an easier life in a leafy English suburb. He clearly empathises with those who are suffering – it underlies his ministry and provides him an authentic ministry to those who truly are on the margins.

Interestingly, in his early thirties White was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition which has affected his mobility and speech, and leaves him physically exhausted. Unsurprisingly, such a diagnosis has barely held him back. The film shows Mr. White, always in good spirits, reflecting on his condition and how it relates to his ministry.  That he has been undergoing a new stem cell treatment in Baghdad is shown in the film; utilizing his own extracted stem cells White is very positive about the effects, stating that it has completely transformed his life and enabled him to continue his work.

‘The Vicar of Baghdad’ is such an uplifting film that shows us how much of a difference a single person can make.  By refusing to give up or give in, despite the circumstances, Andrew White is an example to us all, whether we are Christians or not.

You can watch the film here:

Prof. Jim Lucey, Medical Director at St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, has more than twenty five years’ experience in his field of specialisation.

Lucey has used this experience to pen a thoughtful and compassionate look at the varied experience of some of the patients he has encountered. Coalescing around the themes of experience, worth, freedom, memory, truth, balance, hope and possibilities, he explores individual stories, and pieces together complex narratives with a view to understanding and facilitating recovery.

In My Room

At the outset, Prof. Lucey sets out the conceptual framework around which he practices medicine.  He writes: ‘psychological medicine has no role in directing anyone along any specific philosophical route or towards any specific response to the personal challenge of existence’. Whilst I very much agree that it is never the place of the physician to dispense spiritual advice, it has to be acknowledged that each form of psychological intervention, from CBT to logotherapy, and from psychoanalytic psychotherapy to individual psychology, is underpinned by a specific psychological worldview.  Consider Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy where the ‘will to meaning’ is at the fore; contrast this with Freud’s psychoanalysis where the ‘will to pleasure’ underpins the therapeutic theory.

Notwithstanding minor differences in semantics, Prof. Lucey understands exactly what it means to be a patient.  He very perceptively writes: ‘to be a patient describes an experience that deserves respect.  We will all be patients at some stage and this is part of what it is to be alive’.

Depression, anxiety, self-harm, OCD, suicide and other issues are explored through the lens of his patients.  The pain is obvious in each individual, but crucially so too is the will to wellness and the capacity to recover. And if you’re not sure about some of the medical terms, the author has included an excellent jargon-free summary in the notes section at the end of the book.

Prof. Lucey does a superb job of dispelling the myths that all-too-frequently surround mental illness.  Shockingly, Lucey writes this of his own institution’s findings:

‘In 2013 St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services published some disturbing findings from its own nationwide survey of attitudes to mental health disorder in Ireland.  Over one-fifth of people surveyed believed that those suffering from mental health problems are below average intelligence and 31 per cent of respondents revealed that they would not accept someone with a mental health disorder as a close friend. It was discovered that 62 per cent would discriminate against hiring someone with a history of mental illness on the grounds that they would be unreliable, and 42 per cent believed that undergoing treatment for a mental health disorder is a sign of personal failure’.

That this degree of ignorance and prejudice still exists in a modern society is deeply worrying.  And that is why Prof. Lucey’s book makes such a valuable contribution; it is very well written and one senses that author’s deep concern and sensitivity for those in his care. In describing ‘ordinary’ people dealing with mental ill health, Prof. Lucey does an enormous amount to normalise our perception of mental illness and to see his patients just as they are – just like any other person, but with the added burden of living with a complicated condition.

Recovery is very much possible, as attested to by Prof. Lucey’s clinical experience.  With the right blend of medication, therapy and psycho-social intervention, recovery is achievable, although it does of course look different for each patient.  Lucey demonstrates that Psychiatry is very much an art as well as a science and understanding individuals, their circumstances, drivers and aspirations are as important as prescribing medication.

And before I forget, there is another aspect of the book that I really like – Prof. Lucey uses poetry at the end of the chapter.  By referring to Emily Dickinson, Robert Herrick, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and other such literary luminaries, Lucey adds to the poignancy of his case studies and encourages reflection. It really does round off the book beautifully.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who lives with mental illness, those who treat them and to the wider population looking to understand a phenomenon that is still shrouded in too much mystery, misunderstanding and prejudice.