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A topical roundtable discussion focussing on the benefits of spiritual practices in the recovery from eating disorders was launched at South East Technological University (SETU) by Mary Butler TD, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People.

SETU, in collaboration with the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE) in Dublin, convened the roundtable discussion at SETU's Cork Road Campus in Waterford on Monday, 26 February.

The pioneering event on the topic of “Exploring the challenge of eating disorder recovery through spiritual practices” marked the opening of National Eating Disorders Week.

Organised by Dr Bernadette Flanagan and Dr Michael O’Sullivan of SpIRE, the event brought together spirituality researchers, prominent experts, healthcare professionals, and stakeholders within the field of eating disorder recovery to deliberate on the critical role that spiritual practices can play in the recovery process.

Andrea Hayes, an experienced Irish broadcaster, author, and a graduate of the MA in Applied Spirituality at SETU acted as host for the day. Meanwhile, Professor Deborah Lycett, a leading global expert in the field of spirituality and eating disorder recovery, delivered the keynote address, presenting her research findings on the subject. 

PhD candidate Tara Travers outlined her groundbreaking research exploring the role of spiritual practices as an avenue toward eating disorder recovery. Further introductions were delivered by the head of research at SETU, Dr Geraldine Canny, and Dr Katherine Cagney from the Psychology Department at SETU. 

Commenting on the objectives of the event, Dr Flanagan said, “Both SETU and the Spirituality Institute are committed to the pursuit of ground-breaking research and innovative solutions to improve eating disorder services in Ireland. The round table discussion marked a significant step forward in this endeavour. The event provided a unique platform for professionals to share knowledge, gain valuable insights from each other and leading experts, and explore innovative approaches to addressing eating disorders.”

Dr Michael O’Sullivan of SpIRE outlined how as a registered charitable trust the event was fully aligned with SpIRE’s mission to promote spirituality through education, research, and community service for public benefit.

“SpIRE collaborates with SETU to deliver the SETU MA in Applied Spirituality and to support SETU PhD students in spirituality in Dublin. SpIRE hosts the leading library for applied spirituality studies and supports the SETU Research Unit on Spirituality in Society and the Professions (SpirSoP). Additionally, it has organised or co-organised three international conferences at SETU on spirituality studies and research. We were delighted to fund this roundtable discussion,” said Dr O’Sullivan.

Main Image: Pictured at South East Technological University (SETU) at a roundtable event discussing the benefits of spiritual practices in eating disorder recovery were PhD candidate, Tara Travers, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, Irish broadcaster, Andrea Hayes, and Head of Research, Dr Geraldine Canny. Photograph: Patrick Browne