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The Character Course Retreat

Back in March we gathered at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire for a BACIP retreat with a psychological twist. Dr Roger Bretherton (University of Lincoln) guided us through the insights and prayerful exercises he has developed as part of a John Templeton funded project, ‘The Character Course’, which combines evidence based psychological interventions with biblical insights and spiritual disciplines.

Over the course of the weekend we explored eight positive qualities of character (learning, love, hope, forgiveness, gratitude, persistence, humour and curiosity). One session was spent on each character quality. From the opening session it was clear that Dr Bretherton had put as much consideration into the process of the retreat as the content. He followed a pattern of presenting the psychological research around the characteristic, followed by biblical insights. Each session concluded with an opportunity to personally respond to what had been presented, or what felt spiritually significant. We did this as part of a group, or on our own in the beautiful grounds of the Abbey.

A wonderful benefit of the setting was that the monastic rhythms of the abbey were going on around us and we were welcome to join in. Many of us joined in the prayer or communion services.  I found this both complemented and added such depth to the weekend. I had not attended a BACIP event since my undergrad days many moons ago and was apprehensive about attending a retreat where I did not know anyone. However, it was so rejuvenating to be in a room of such warm and welcoming people. In one conversation someone reflected that as a Christian psychologist one can feel too psychological for some Christian settings and too Christian for some psychological settings. It was a pleasure to be part of a setting where both Christian and psychological perspectives were so easily understood and accepted. If you haven’t attended a BACIP event to date, I would strongly recommend giving one a go!

 Sarah-Louise Hurst @Fortitudetherapy

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