Chris Cook

Christopher C. H. Cook

WATCH THE VIDEO INTERVIEW

Update on The Sanctuary Podcast:

During these extraordinary times, while we can’t be with each other physically, we can reach out through screens and over phones, and we can share our stories with each other. Join Sanctuary’s CEO, Daniel Whitehead, as he interviews pastors, front line workers, ministry leaders, and friends about their experience of the pandemic and where they are making meaning and finding hope in the ups and downs of this season.

Episode Description:

Professor of Spirituality, Theology & Health, and Director of the Centre for Spirituality, Theology & Health, at Durham University, Christopher C. H. Cook, shares about the inspiration behind his book Christian Hearing Voices. He discusses the importance of discernment when it comes to hearing voices, how religious and non-religious accounts may differ, and what the Church can do to help validate the religious experience of voices.

Find out more about Chris’ research and his upcoming book on The Sanctuary Blog.

Running time: 35:58

Resources mentioned in the show:

Christians Hearing Voices, Christopher C. H. Cook

Source monitoring

Continuum hypothesis

Schizophrenia

When God Talks Back, Tanya Luhrmann

St. John of the Cross

Augustine

Spiritual direction

Supporting Good Mental Health Booklet, Church of England

Crisis Resources:

For your quick reference, here are nationwide emergency numbers and crisis lines:

  • Canada: 911, Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566
  • British Columbia: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • United States: 911, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • United Kingdom: 999/112, Samaritans: 116 123
  • New Zealand: 111, 1737, Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800-543-354
  • Australia: 000, Lifeline: 13 11 14 

TRANSCRIPT

Daniel Whitehead: Welcome to the Sanctuary podcast, my name is Daniel Whitehead, I am the CEO of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, and during Covid-19 I’m also the host of our podcast. During this season we’re doing things a little bit differently, we’re talking to friends of ours from around the world, people with vocations that can speak to the intersection of faith and mental health, and we’re just hearing how they’re doing and what they’re up to. Today we’re joined by a good friend, Chris Cook. Chris is an ordained Anglican priest, he is a trained psychiatrist with over twenty-five years’ experience, and very much still involved with the Royal College of Psychiatry. Chris is also a Professor at Durham University, and the Director of the Centre of Spirituality, Theology and Health. Professor Chris Cook–Welcome, thanks for joining us.

Chris Cook: Thank you, it’s good to be with you.

Daniel Whitehead: You know Chris, just before we began, I was saying, I was actually in Durham just a few months ago before COVID hit, like the world has changed since the last time I saw you. How are you doing?

Chris Cook: It has, it’s such a different place isn’t it yes. 

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah.

Chris Cook: Changed out of all recognition. 

Daniel Whitehead: Absolutely. Well, we’re so glad that you’ve joined us Chris from your, from your home today not from your office obviously, and we’re here today to discuss a book you’ve written, which I understand has been released as an eBook and because of COVID the hard copy will be published later in the year. 

Chris Cook: That’s correct, yeah.

Daniel Whitehead: Do you have a copy you could show us, Chris, of your, of your book?

Chris Cook: I do–here it is. Christians Hearing Voices, and this is one of very few paper copies that are currently available, because the printing press has shut down due to the pandemic, and they can’t produce enough copies for sale, but as we’ve said it will be available as an eBook from the 18th of June, and then hopefully you’ll be able to buy a print copy like this one in December.

Daniel Whitehead: Very good, so Chris–what was the inspiration for your book?

Chris Cook: Well, I’ve been working for the last eight years or so, on a big interdisciplinary project at Durham University on voice hearing. My interest within that has been in spiritually religious voices, particularly Christian experiences of voices, and at one of our meetings, this would be at least five years ago, we had some people who’d had experiences of voice hearing who came and joined us, and we talked with them as researchers and staff, and then we split up into small groups, and I found myself sitting on the floor with two colleagues, and talking about the fascinating experiences that we’d heard of, during this series of conversations that we’d had. And one of us said, “Hey wouldn’t it be good to have a collection of stories of this kind, you know they’re so interesting, surely that would make a really good book”. And so I took that thought away, and during the course of the next few years, I heard more and more of these stories, particularly from Christian people, and then published three articles in the Church Times a year or two ago, which evoked quite a vigorous and fascinating correspondence–so I had several dozen people, mainly from the UK, sending me emails, telling me about their stories of hearing voices as Christians, and what it had meant to them, and so I thought: “Well, this is the chance”, you know. Here’s a collection of stories that would make a really interesting book, and would give a different sort of picture of what voice hearing can be like within the context of faith because, a lot of the research—not all of it but a lot of the previous research—has been on secular experiences or spiritual but not religious experiences, and very little of this kind has been published previously, so the book began from there really, and then there was a series of ongoing conversations with all of these people about their stories which eventually came together to make the book that we now have. 

Daniel Whitehead: Wow, I was saying to a friend the other day, about this book because–you’ve also written a piece for our blog. Is that right Chris?

Chris Cook: Yes that’s right yes, it’s a very short summary of the book. Obviously it only gives a taster of what’s in the book, but it gives you an idea of the kinds of things that the book is addressing, yeah.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, so I read the copy of that and I was chatting to a friend, someone from the UK and I said, “Oh there’s a really interesting book,” and she said, “Oh, so is it about sort of like hearing God’s voice, or is it about sort of hearing a voice because you have some kind of psychotic episode?” And I just went, “I don’t actually know,” I shrugged my shoulders, you know.

Chris Cook: It’s both of those, it’s both of those and other things as well, so we’re focussing here on, excuse me, on Christian experiences, and some of these people have heard voices which are nothing to do with anything spiritual or religious, so you know that’s a different thing, but I’m focussing primarily on the voices they heard that were spiritually significant to them. That’s how we gathered these stories: we asked people about their spiritually significant voices. And for the majority of people in the book, that was an experience of hearing God in one way or another. They’d perhaps word it differently, they’d be more or less cautious about whether they thought it was God, but it was some kind of story of that kind, something positive and good that had been spiritually helpful to them. A smaller number, a significant minority of stories were about evil voices, and voices variously described as demonic, or the devil and of course that’s, that’s usually a distressing experience, a very different kind of thing. But it’s those stories, rather than the more usual secular ones that you hear about. Some of these stories are associated with experience of mental illness, so a few of these people—again a small minority—have been in treatment for mental health issues, and they tell you about that in the book, or where I’ve got permission to do so, I have said something about that, but for the vast majority of the people in the book, there’s no diagnosed mental health problem, this is a part of their spiritual life and this is the story they’ve told me. I’ve presented it as they’ve given it to me in their own words. 

Daniel Whitehead: So Chris, a big question, but what are some of the theories that were used to explain the experience of hearing voices?

Chris Cook: Well that’s quite a big scientific question, and the project more widely has spent the last eight years or so trying to address that. So we know a lot—I mean it’s a half full and half empty kind of answer really, you know, the more we learn, the more we’re aware of what we don’t know, but we have a number of theories that are quite important. Sometimes, as we’ve just said, voices can be associated with mental illness, and so there’s the whole scientific research story of, you know, what causes mental illness and in a sense that’s a separate question, one which I won’t try to address today, but we know now that there’s a lot of people who are hearing voices who are not mentally ill, they’re not diagnosed, they’re getting on with their lives, they’re fine, they don’t need help from mental health services, and what we know about their experiences falls under a few theories, really. I mean, one of the most influential, probably the most popular amongst psychological researchers, has been what they call source monitoring. So, we all, we all hear voices in one sense, you know— there’s the voice I hear within my head which I usually identify as my own thought, and which I don’t normally hear out loud, but maybe sometimes, that inner process of monitoring that voice goes wrong somehow, and rather than recognising it as my own thought, maybe I for some reason imagine it coming from outside of me, in the world around me, maybe it appears out loud rather than thought-like, and we don’t know a lot about what the, the reasons are for making those sort of mental mistakes, but there are a lot of reasons for thinking that that’s a good theory. And it makes a lot of sense in that, we know developmentally children begin their mental lives by talking to their parents, and their family, and those around them, so you might hear a child playing with her toys, and telling you about what she’s doing, and then what she’s telling you is no longer a conversation with you, it’s a conversation with herself about the train that she’s pushing around the train track or something like that, and the theory is that we internalise that voice, we no longer need to speak it out loud, we’re able to just listen to ourselves saying it within, so if that’s the process by which we develop our ability to hear inner voices, inner thoughts, then maybe it can be reversed, maybe there’s some process by which we start to hear it out loud again, rather than just being purely mental.   

Daniel Whitehead: Very interesting, wow. So Chris, what are some of the ways that accounts of religious voices differ from accounts of non-religious voices?

Chris Cook: Well, that’s an interesting question, and one that we’re just beginning to explore, so there are a variety of different theories about this. One is the continuum hypothesis, that is that all of these experiences are on a continuum, they maybe differ in certain ways, some of them, for example, are more “out loud” voices, and some of them are more thought-like, and many of them we know are somewhere in between the two, but they’re all essentially variations of the same phenomenon, so that’s one theory. And if you wanted to be very reductionistic, if you’re a hard-nosed materialist and atheist in your thinking about these things, you could say, “Well, hearing God is just one example of that; it’s all generated within the human mind and brain, and actually, that’s all there is to it”. So the religious voices are no different than any of the other voices that people hear, in schizophrenia or in other circumstances. But that’s a scientifically controversial theory as well as theologically controversial obviously, and there are many reasons to see differences between these voices. So for example Tanya Luhrmann in the States has done a lot of research on voices within Christian communities, and there are certain ways in which those voices seem to be different than the other kinds of voice experiences we’re hearing about. So, for example, they frequently occur in the context of prayer. Christians are talking to God about things, they’re asking God, maybe, about stuff that they’re struggling with, and it’s as though God talks back. Tanya’s book is called When God Talks Back, so it’s like you’re having a conversation, and God isn’t always a silent conversation partner–you hear him in response. Now, again, as a Christian I’m certainly not excluding the possibility that it is God talking to us, but if you have a deep sense of absorption in your life of prayer and meditation, if you have an expectation, as do Christians in many churches, that God will reply, then perhaps it’s not surprising that actually sometimes God does respond. And there are non-religious examples of a similar kind, which suggest that this sort of process of absorption into a particular mental state, and you tend to focus with an expectation that you’ll hear a voice—maybe that fosters or kindles the possibility of this kind of experience. Now that’s the scientific research, and Tanya Luhrmann by the way doesn’t rule out the possibility that God is actually speaking to people through these experiences, and neither do I, but God may speak through these natural mechanisms by which we experience our own thoughts and evaluate the world around us, you know, there’s no reason in my mind why we shouldn’t hear God through these processes; even if we can understand more about them scientifically, that doesn’t exclude the possibility of God speaking to us through them. So maybe in that sense they’re, they’re different than other kinds of experiences, they’re not the same.

Daniel Whitehead: I love that, Chris. I think it’s often people who work in this intersection, lets say, of science and faith, which is obviously the mental health conversation I think has to be approached from various lenses, but certainly analyzing clinically and theologically what a person’s experience is, means that we come away with this sense in which, yeah, exactly as you said, if there is a biological occurrence, but if that is the way that God works then, there’s no threat in that, and for many of us—I grew up in a tradition where implicitly that would have been seen as a, like a threat right, then it’s not valid, if it’s done through a kind of natural means or a scientific…

Chris Cook: Yes that’s right, yes.

Daniel Whitehead: And of course it’s a great point. Why, why is it not valid? Why isn’t that the way God speaks or can speak to us, and often does?  

Chris Cook: This is part of a wider question you know, if you’re reading the story of the Exodus in the Old Testament, you know, the waters part and the children of Israel walk across the Red Sea—well, people have speculated that there was a tsunami, you know, a unusual climate event that caused this movement of the waters. I think that’s still a miracle of a kind, you know, the timing of the thing is still miraculous according to the narrative of the story, but other Christians would say, “Oh no, no, no, this was God directly intervening, and moving the waters to one side, you know, it wasn’t a natural event”. Well, I don’t know that it matters too much to me; the fact is that they were saved from their predicament, and the outcome was understood by them as being one of divine intervention, and I think the same applies here, really. A better understanding of the science might give us more cause for wonder, the significance of what’s happening, but it doesn’t exclude the possibility of God being involved in some way.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah very good, I totally agree as if you need my affirmation, Chris, no I think that’s great. Okay it says here: if God speaks to us an inner thought-like voice, what sort of discernment, if any, should be exercised?                  

Chris Cook: Well I think discernment should always be exercised, St. John of the Cross, for example, was more sceptical about the validity of “out loud” voices, and visible visions than he was about the more thought-like ones. And following after Augustine, the more interior it was, the more likely he thought it was to be from God, but he was always cautious about placing too much weight on these things. And Christians for hundreds of years—thousands of years, really—have thought there is a need to test these experiences, and not just to assume naively that it’s God. How we do that is, of course, a much more complex affair, and it has to be said that different Christian traditions have different approaches. Some of them are more like John of the Cross: very cautious, would exclude most things as being God, and would rarely, if ever, want to place too much weight on them. Others we might say are at the end of the spectrum where they’re more accepting and expecting of these experiences, and more likely to think it’s God, but almost always there are some criteria, and it’s a question of exactly what the criteria are and how they’re applied, so coming from somewhere in the middle of all of this, and being a fascinated observer of both ends of the spectrum, I guess I’d, I’d encourage people first of all to talk and pray with others about it, not just to jump to conclusions. Secondly, to be patient—these things take time, maybe I won’t know today or tomorrow, maybe I won’t really know whether this was God for another five or ten years, but to keep open possibilities, and to explore what may or not be going on with an open mind. And I suppose, thirdly, by whatever means within your tradition is most helpful, to be constructively critical of the experience, you know, “Why might this not be God?”. If it is God, God’s not going to mind you asking the question, you know, He doesn’t want you to be deceived either. So, is it possible to ask the question why might this not be God, and if not why not, and then to spend time reflecting on it. I mean, spiritual direction, for example, if you’re from a tradition that has this kind of thing, or maybe we call it spiritual mentoring or soul friendship or something else, having a spiritual director with whom you can talk about these things is a really good idea and, see what they think about it and talk it through with them.

Daniel Whitehead: Very good. So Chris, having read your blog post for us, I think this question kind of stems from that—so what’s the difference between an evil voice and a demonic voice, or is there a difference?

Chris Cook: Well, that’s a good question, and I have to say, first of all, that the minority of voices that people have told me about have been in this category, that when it does occur particularly for Christians, and also for others, it tends to be a very distressing experience. It’s not a nice thing to hear evil voices, so the voice might just say you’re a nasty person, you don’t deserve to live, you know, why are you wasting space on God’s earth, you know, you ought to kill yourself or something like that, and maybe in those circumstances some people do identify it as demonic, and some people don’t, maybe it’s more in the mind of the person hearing the voice than anything else. I mean, there’s one sense in which I’d say “Well, that is a demonic voice,” you know—it’s evil, it’s nasty, it’s clearly not from God, it’s from another place and let’s call that demonic. But other voices identify themselves very explicitly as demonic. Incidentally, the only similar example to this in the New Testament of course is Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus hears the voice of the Devil. So I sometimes say to people who are often very distressed in these circumstances: “Well, you’re in good company, you know, Jesus heard the voice of the Devil, so that doesn’t make you a bad person. It does raise the question of how you evaluate the experience, and how you respond to what the voice says, that’s altogether a much more important thing for a Christian to think about, but it doesn’t mean that there’s necessarily anything wrong with you, that you hear a voice like that.” But it’s not a nice experience, and if the voice identifies itself as demonic, I would suggest that in ninety-nine cases out of 100, it really is advisable to get advice from a mental health professional, and I don’t say that because I think Jesus was mentally ill—quite the opposite—but, but very often in my experience, such voices have been associated with mental disorders of various kinds, and experiences of Christians who’ve been subjected to exorcism or deliverance ministry, having had those kinds of voices, have often been very, well, not just unproductive but the, the experience of the ministry has added to the distress caused by the voice. And so I would always recommend that mental health professionals, and clergy or spiritual advisors work together, in helping people to think about how best to respond to those kinds of experiences.  

Daniel Whitehead: It strikes me, Chris, in line with the conversation thus far, that when we’re encouraged in the Scriptures to discern the spirits, very often that’s interpreted in, and I’m from a tradition that would do that, in quite an abstract way, like it’s interesting that again if we’re just broadening ourselves to, let’s say, science, you know, this is one of the ways God works, and this is, you could say, a primary way God works.

Chris Cook: Yes, yeah.

Daniel Whitehead: Discernment of spirits would involve a mental health professional, I mean why wouldn’t they? That is discernment.

Chris Cook: Why wouldn’t they yeah.

Daniel Whitehead: You know what’s going on.      

Chris Cook: And we probably know there have been widely publicised cases in England and elsewhere, where we’re going back decades now but, you know, people have been subjected to exorcism or similar ministry, and there have been terrible outcomes, people have died, so the standard teaching within the Church of England, and Roman Catholic Church, and I think within many of the other mainstream denominations, is that mental health professionals should be a part of the discernment process, and I would take that as the starting point, really. And, some of the stories within the book, you know, if you get the book on the 18th when it’s available, and you read them will give you more of a picture of why that should be. One lady whom I’ve called Perpetua within the book—it’s not her real name—she explains how unhelpful some of the things that Christians tried to do for her were, and there are other similar stories which reinforce the value that Christians have found from receiving psychiatric treatment for these kinds of voices, and how much help that has been. One story I remember when I was a junior psychiatrist many years ago, not in the book, was of a young Christian who was seeing and hearing devils that were tormenting him, and had a series of unproductive encounters with Christians trying to help him, and then rapidly got better when he received treatment from the local psychiatric day hospital. So, you know, stories like that impress themselves upon your clinical and pastoral experience, really, and colour the way in which you try to help people ever after, because you don’t want people to experience needless distress, and, you know, to go through the same kind of suffering that you’ve seen others undergo.

Daniel Whitehead: Yeah, I think of my old New Testament Professor, Rick Watts, who is a, he’s Pentecostal by tradition but, I remember him saying in one of his lectures, it’s amazing how many demons can get cast out with a good meal and a proper night’s sleep.

Chris Cook: Yes, yes, and actually, good attention to physical and mental health is really fundamental, you know, we need to have a good diet, we need to sleep well, we need to be rested. Actually a lot of that makes things look a lot different the morning after, so that’s very good advice.

Daniel Whitehead: Okay, so Chris, how can the church helpfully and healthily validate the religious experiences of voices, of individuals with mental illness?

Chris Cook: Well, as we’ve just said, I think that a multi-professional approach is important here, so that’s the sort of starting point for all of this. I think for clergy, for pastors and church leaders, being aware of the range of possibilities and the need for professional help is, is important because very often these folks don’t present to mental health services. They see it as a spiritual problem, they go first to their pastor, and if he or she isn’t aware of the range of possibilities, then the conversation gets narrowed down prematurely, and maybe the wrong help is given for a long time, during which things can get worse. We know that for some of these people, early treatment, for example, with psychiatric medication will improve the long-term outcome, so we don’t want to delay getting the right help, and if the clergy and church leaders and others, you know, are aware of that, then that’s a good start.

Daniel Whitehead: Very good, and so under what circumstances should a person who’s hearing voices seek help?

Chris Cook: Well, there are so many different experiences as you’ll see from the book. It’s difficult to give answers which are not over-generalisations, but I think if I were to over-generalise: if it’s distressing for you or for others then get help, and that might be because of the kind of thing we talked about earlier—the voices are evil, they say nasty things—that’s clearly an indication that you ought to seek help from mental health professionals. It may be rather different than that, it may be that, for the individual hearing the voice, this seems like a really good experience, they’re very positive about it, but actually other people are all saying, you know, “We’ve heard enough about this, we don’t believe you, it’s not God, you know, God wouldn’t say things like that, please would you stop going on about it,” so actually it’s causing friction in the home or family, or maybe within the church community, and others are saying, “Look, you know, we don’t think this is God,” you know and that’s a sign that somethings amiss. Now I’m not saying that’s necessarily that it’s mental illness, it might be other things but, but that certainly is a reason for getting help, and this works both ways of course. It may be that within a church context it’s the mental health professional that needs to be brought in, it may be that within the mental health context, it’s the chaplain or pastor or priest that needs to be brought in, and very often you know in that context, people feel distressed because they’re not being listened to spiritually, and actually it’s the spiritual component that is the response that’s missing, so it works both ways.

Daniel Whitehead: And in your research, Chris, I know that you’ve had people respond from, I mean, across the world in many ways, lots of different places. What kind of requests do you get? Because I guess in some ways in undertaking this research, you are a bit of an expert on hearing voices and what that means for Christians. What kind of responses have you had from people around the world? Who’s been reaching out to you, and yeah what have they, what help have people asked for from you? 

Chris Cook: Well, I had a lot of responses following the Church Times articles that I mentioned to you earlier, which led to the book and so many of those stories are in the book, but over the last eight years or so I’ve had emails from all sorts of other people as well, and these take a variety of different forms, again you know I’m not wishing to over-generalise but, a classic would be, you know, “I’m hearing this voice, no one understands me, they think I’m mentally ill, you know, please will you tell the psychiatrist that God,” well, from the other side of the world when you’re only having had an email conversation with someone, it’s difficult for me to say, “Yes this is God, or indeed, no it’s not God,” which raises the question of what’s going on with communication locally, that the person doesn’t feel understood, and that may take a variety of different forms, but it usually comes back to the things we discussed earlier. I encourage people to talk to their pastor about it, I encourage them to seek help from mental health professionals, I encourage them to think about spiritual direction. I ask them what other people in their church think about this kind of voice, and usually you can learn a lot from the brief answers even in an email that you receive to those kinds of questions, you know, people say, for example, “Well, everyone else thinks it’s strange, you know, even my Christian friends don’t believe this,” which leaves me wondering why they don’t believe it. Equally, I’m very sorry to say that there are still many mental health services that don’t understand the importance of integrating a spiritual component into their assessment and treatment, and you get people who say, “Well, the psychiatrist isn’t a Christian, you know, he dismisses anything like this, he says it’s all part of the illness,” and I feel very sympathetic to them because the voice may or may not be part of the illness, but they haven’t been understood. Their faith is the basic context. The foundation of everything they understand about their experience hasn’t been taken into account, and really it should be the starting point these days, that both perspectives are taken into account so, those exchanges usually by email have been fascinating, but sometimes very frustrating because I can’t sort it all out by email, I have to hope that in God’s providence others locally will help them, and that it will find a happy outcome, sometimes I’ve heard that it does, other times I lose touch with people and I don’t know what happened to them. 

Daniel Whitehead: And there’s a really interesting synergy in the negative sense, it seems between being isolated and maybe being misunderstood, or maybe, you know, it seems to me what you’re saying to people is, connect yourself, be known, go the people who know you, and listen to, you know, in a sense find yourself relationally among others because…

Chris Cook: Yeah.

Daniel Whitehead: You know you’re a relational being so, what do people around you think, but I can imagine people who are isolated, just sending an email off to someone in another country, saying fix this for me, it kind of betrays that relational sense of self, that we are people who are to be known. 

Chris Cook: It’s an expression of their frustration that they’re not been heard really, and as you say we are relational creatures, we’re in relationship with God, we’re in relationship with people around us, but we’re in a relationship with ourselves, you know, our inner thoughts are kind of a dialogue, if you catch me in the kitchen one evening, you know, burning the omelette on the pan, you know, I might say, “Oh you stupid boy what are you doing,” and I get cross talking to myself as though I were another person. So this being understood within ourselves and by others, and by God is fundamental, and if we don’t have that sense of being listened to, then, you know, things get worse really, it makes it more difficult. And of course that’s true in relationship to the voice. So some people hearing voices, the voices are distressing so they don’t want to listen to them but, but if the voice doesn’t get a hearing, it can get worse, and so for some people giving a space each day, maybe just half an hour in the evening when they listen to the voice, can make it more bearable during the rest of the day, and that can be the beginning to things getting better. There’s one story of that kind within the book, which is quite interesting, it’s unique in various ways but, but it’s part of the wider principle that we need to listen well to ourselves and to others.

Daniel Whitehead: Well, Chris, thank you so much, I just, you know, your challenging of the tendency in us to over-simplify or to be reductionistic is just so timely and helpful, and, you know, I’m just so grateful for your work, not only your work as an academic, but clinically and also with the Church of England. I know you have a very key role there in helping the Church of England navigate this, and also your role in helping Sanctuary, you’ve been a great help to us in reviewing certain work, and writing for us and I know you’re going to be helping us with some other projects in the future, so big, big thank you to you for all of those things. 

Chris Cook: My pleasure, it’s been great working with you, and I’ve enjoyed the conversation, thank you.

Daniel Whitehead: Great. And Chris, just remind us one more time, the book–when does the book come out in hard copy?

Chris Cook: So the book comes out as an eBook on the 18th of June, and as a hard copy we’re currently planning December, of course that all depends upon the pandemic, and when, you know, people will be able to go back to work, but we’re optimistic that it will be later this year.

Daniel Whitehead: Very good, so when the book is out in an eBook soon, but when it comes out: Christians Hearing Voices by Chris Cook, you should buy it. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for joining us, everyone, and Chris, thank you for joining us, we’re very grateful to have had you with us.

Chris Cook: A pleasure, God bless.

 

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries exists to equip the church to be a sanctuary for all people, at all stages of their mental wellness journey, may this podcast encourage you to create safe space for your own story, and the stories of others as well as create change in communities that stigmatize those suffering with mental health challenges. 

The Sanctuary Course is a small group resource designed to help initiate and guide conversations about mental health and faith, it is a starting point, creating a base of shared knowledge from which churches can explore the next steps, perhaps most importantly through the simple act of talking openly about mental health, the course helps churches begin to create safe spaces for people to share their mental health stories, and receive support in community. 

Each theme in the course is explored from a psychological, social and theological perspective, and each session is accompanied by a compelling film focussed on an individual story, a person of faith whose journeyed through mental health challenges. 

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