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Spiritual Care for Disaster & Humanitarian Relief

Course Date: March 18 – April 12, 2023.

This course is open to everyone who is interested in emotional and spiritual care – with a focus on disaster, humanitarian crisis, displaced refugee groups. Our pool of instructors have research, education, and/or on-the-ground experience with caring for people in crisis. They bring relevant approaches and practices that are beneficial for a spiritual care provider to have in engaging with large-scale communities experiencing trauma. The course consists of 40 hours of theoretical training, 50 hours of practical training, and 10 hours of evaluation of practical training by expert instructors.

Spiritual Care for Disaster & Humanitarian Relief

Course Date:
March 18 – April 12, 2023.

This course is open to emotional and spiritual care learners and providers, who are currently serving or interested to serve populations going through disaster, humanitarian crisis, displaced refugee communities, and those going through large-scale community suffering. Our pool of instructors have research, education, and/or on-the-ground experience with caring for people in crisis. They bring relevant approaches and practices that are beneficial for a spiritual care provider to have in engaging with large-scale communities experiencing trauma. The course consists of 40 hours of theoretical training, 50 hours of practical training, and 10 hours of evaluation of practical training by expert instructors.

Objectives of Course

To understand the key principles and practices of disaster and humanitarian care, and the role of spiritual care providers in supporting affected populations.

To develop awareness of the impact of humanitarian crisis and disaster on individuals, families, and communities, drawing on research-based evidence and field-based perspectives.

To examine the role of spirituality in coping with collective trauma and apply insights from the Qur'an and Sunnah (Islamic prophetic tradition) to their practice, including providing spiritual care to diverse communities in crisis.

To empower caregivers with meaning-making approaches and techniques for self-care to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.

To enhance skills in providing spiritual care online, through tele-support, and text settings, for groups and individuals, including communication skills, compassionate listening, and confidentiality.

2022 Summer Reading Camp 3
on “The Letters” by Said Nursi

🔸All are welcome, however, due to the rigor of the camp we encourage those in university and beyond to attend.

🔸The language of instruction will be in English, and all texts will be read from English translation.

🔸Each session will be read out loud by an English speaker and all students are expected to follow the text available on screen. Following this, a scholar of the Risale-i Nur will present the topic further and a Q&A will follow.

🔸This retreat marks a first of its kind. The last session will host a panel by the students of Dr Mahsheed Ansari who taught a course on Nubuwwah/Prophethood in Islam in Risale Academy summer session and the students will cover the topic of Nubuvva from Risale-I Nur in this panel.

Weekly Syllabus

Lessons will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM (EST),
on Saturdays 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM,
on Sundays 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM (only the first two weeks).

WEEK 1 (MARCH 18-22, 2023)

SAT, 18 Mar: 10.00am-12.00pm
Intro to Disaster & Humanitarian Spiritual Care
Definition, types, key principles, unique nature of disaster spiritual care, grief, relevant research – Daniel Davila, B.C.C.

SAT, 18 Mar: 12.30pm-2.30pm
Psychological First Aid
Review of concepts and skills to provide perspectives of injury/trauma beyond those physical in nature – Tahara Akmal, B.C.C.

SUN, 19 Mar: 10.00am-12.00pm
Ministry of Presence in the Context of Long-term Suffering
– Tuba Alpat, M.D., B.C.C.

SUN, 19 Mar: 12.30pm-2:30pm
Trauma-informed Approach to Spiritual Care (Adult & Children)
Explore ways of offering spiritual care that is sensitive to other people’s previous difficult experiences by practicing our own body-centered awareness. – Katherine Daniels, B.C.C.

MON, 20 Mar: 5.00-7.00pm
Skills for Facilitating Group Support Online
Creating trauma responsive programing online. Offering small group grief healing circles. – Kristen Jawad & Amnah Ali LMFT

WED, 22 Mar: 5.00-7.00pm
Suicide Awareness in Disaster Situations
Indications of suicidal ideation, listening to underlying reasons, assessing dangers, steps to take for assistance, self-care.Ron Cockroft, PhD

WEEK 2 (MARCH 25-29, 2023)

SAT, 25 Mar: 10.00am-12.00pm
Common Spiritual Distress in Times of Long-Term Crisis
General and Islamic perspective of spiritual distress that surfaces and possible reframes/processing approach. Will also include the emotional stages during a disaster over long term for adults and children. – Ch. Sakinah Alhabshi

SAT, 25 Mar: 12.30pm-2.30pm
Long-term Perspective to Emotional & Spiritual Care for Refugee / Displaced Communities
– Ch. Tuba Kaya

SUN, 26 Mar: 10.00am-12.00pm
Shaking Lives: Real Stories from 1999 Turkiye Earthquake The power of a healing narrative.
Skills of listening to stories, documenting stories, and sharing stories. – Ch. Onur Kaya

SUN, 26 Mar: 12.30pm-2:30pm
Spiritual Lessons from Puerto Rican Experience of Disaster and Displacement
– Sh. Yusuf Rios

MON, 27 Mar: 5.00-7.00pm
Spiritual Lessons from the Qur’an and Sunnah on Communities in Crisis
Highlighting the various large-scale suffering from the Sunnah (prophetic tradition), etc.Ch. Nora Zaki

WED, 29 Mar: 5.00-7.00pm
Self-Care for Spiritual Caregivers
Importance, rest & recharge on the move, support network, ATSD/PTSD, spiritual basis of self-care, healthy routines. – Daniel Davila, B.C.C.

WEEK 3 (APRIL 1-5, 2023)

SAT, 1 Apr: 10.00am-12.00pm
3Rs – Reacting, Resistance, and Resilience – Integrating the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
Mindfulness of our own fears and internal resistance. Cultivating spiritual resilience. The lived experience of tornadoes in the south. – Jeffrey Bennett, B.C.C., L.M.F.T.

SAT, 1 Apr: 12.30pm-2.30pm
Foundation of Breath-work and Prayer in Practice
Reflections from the Qur’an on Divine breath. Using breath for emotional regulation, relaxation, and to re-energize. Exploring prayer/supplication/du’a within a spiritual care conversation and as a window to the care-receiver’s spiritual needs. How to practice this in-person and over tele-support.  – Ch. Sakinah Alhabshi

MON, 3 Apr: 5.00-7.00pm
Leaning into Faith during Suffering & Loss
A lecturer in Islamic Studies, chaplaincy, and CPE supervisor himself, who lost a number of relatives including his sister in the recent earthquake. “How my faith helped me after the loss of loved ones”. Theology of calamities, the role of the “mosque” and hospital, healthy emotional processing, and responding to families. Salih Yucel, PhD

WED, 5 Apr: 5.00-7.00pm
Somatic Practices and Creative Arts for Children and Adults
Grounding self in times of uncertainty / instability, etc. Using Nature, Somatic & Creative activities such as yoga, tapping, art, poetry & music for healing & spiritual renewal – Kristen Jawad and D’vorah Kost

WEEK 4 (APRIL 8-12, 2023)

SAT, 8 Apr: 10.00am-12.00pm
Personal Experience on the Ground During Turkiye Earthquake Relief with the United States Air Force – Ch. Captain Mir Ali

SAT, 8 Apr: 12.30pm-2.30pm

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Skills and Recovering from Difficult Times
Refugees’ experiences of losses. DBT skills: Radical acceptance, grounding techniques, distress tolerance, pros and cons, awareness, values, mastery development, and hope. – Reyhane Daglar, ACSW

MON, 10 Apr: 5.00-7.00pm
Crisis Text Line: Spiritual Care over Text Messages
Responding with empathy and curiosity over text messaging, based on experience with Crisis Text Line initiative. – Khurram Ahmed, B.C.C.

WED, 12 Apr: 5.00-7.00pm

Based on post-earthquake/tsunami relief experience in Indonesia setting up a SOS/World Vision “Child-Friendly Space” in displacement camps. Impact and responses of children and youth exposed to natural disasters. Practical approaches for parents who are struggling to support their children/youth through disaster/humanitarian crisis.

Incorporating what they have learned throughout the whole series, students will be presented with cases for them to role-play and give feedback to each other under the supervision of the instructor. – Ch. Sakinah Alhabshi, with support from Ch. Safiyyah Kent, Ch. Kristen Jawad and Ch. Tuba Kaya.

Apply Now

Program tuition is fully sponsored by the RGS for qualified students.

Application requirements:

1. Minimum intermediate level of English proficiency

2. Commitment to complete 50 hours of practical training

Students with previous education or experience in chaplaincy or related areas will be given priority.

Spiritual Care For Disaster & Humanitarian Relief


Full scholarship opportunity!

Total 40 Class Hours
Total 50 Practical Hours
Virtual Classroom Support
Access to Recordings
Certification of Attendance

Do you have a question? Contact us: [email protected]


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About Instructors

Tahara Akmal, B.C.C

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) Certified Educator and Board Certified Chaplain. Ph.D. student at Alvernia University, with research in Chaplaincy and Leadership. M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Pastoral Care & Counseling, and Islamic Studies from the Claremont School of Theology. Tahara currently serves as the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program Manager at Medstar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. She is the first Muslim woman in the United States to become certified as a CPE Educator by ACPE. Adjunct faculty at Bayan Islamic Graduate School, the Moravian Theological Seminary. Previous Chaplaincy and CPE Educator experience at Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences, Ohio State Medical Center, UCLA Health, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Jeffrey Bennett, B.C.C., L.M.F.T.

Undergraduate in Business Administration from SUNY at Buffalo. Masters of Divinity from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Ordained Assemblies of God. Now retired. 2 ½ years ACPE Houston Medical Center, Texas. Director of Pastoral Care in private for-profit mental health and substance abuse hospital. Then the State of Texas Mental Health Hospital System. One Tour as Military Family Life Consultant, Sheppard Air Force Base. Board Certified and now Lifetime Member Association of Pastoral Chaplains. Currently active practice as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: Texas and Alabama, Certified Critical Incident Stress Management focusing on Corporate, Criminal, Weather and Natural and Man Made including Transportation events. Published in Chaplaincy and Mental Health Professional Journals.

Ch. Sakinah Alhabshi

Currently Chaplain at Respect Graduate School, PA. Master’s in Islamic Studies with Cert. for Inter-religious Chaplaincy from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. Clinical Pastoral Education at Stanford Hospital, CA (6 units CPE). Board member of Ziyara Spiritual Care providing chaplaincy training internationally. Advanced Diploma in Islamic Studies by Arees University in Malaysia, undergraduate degree in civil-environmental engineering from Northwestern University, IL. Classical Islamic training in Malaysia, Yemen, and Indonesia. Field experience in disaster relief and refugee / displaced communities in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Lebanon, with earthquake, tsunamis, and genocide. Mentor for the Association of Muslim Chaplains North America CPE Learners. Advisor for the iLuvQuran Tahfiz and Khadijah Learning Center Islamic School in Malaysia.

Ron Cockroft, Ph.D

Diplomate in Pastoral Counseling and Pastoral Education/Training with the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy (CPSP). Retired Chaplain Director and the former Director of Spiritual Care at Austin State Hospital. At Austin State Hospital since January 2002. Served hospitals in Bryan Texas, San Antonio Texas, and Lubbock Texas. Retired as a U.S. Army and Army National Guard Chaplain for more than 25 years. Master of Divinity from the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in Mill Valley, CA; an MA in Linguistics from the University of Texas Arlington, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Ron is a member of the Alamo Chapter of CPSP, and is currently president of the board of non-profit Focus Girls 4 Education Runner’s Pal. Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor.

Ch. Nora Zaki

M.Div., University of Chicago Divinity School. Advisor for Muslim Life at Vassar College and Muslim Chaplain at Bard College, the latter where she also taught First Year Seminar. College chaplain at Dominican University, the first Muslim hospital chaplain at Tampa General Hospital, and volunteered as a prison chaplain in both Chicago and Tampa. Working on a second Master’s degree, an MA in Islamic Education, from Bayan, housed within Chicago Theological Seminary, a recipient of the Muslimah Changemaker Scholarship at Bayan. Nora served as a secretary of the Association for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Life in Higher Education (ASCHLE) from 2021-2022, and is a member of the Association of Muslim Chaplains (AMC). Founder of “mymuslimchaplain”.

Katherine Daniels, B.C.C.

Currently serves as Parent/Child Health Chaplain at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Provided humanitarian response through fundraising and program management to populations affected by conflict, drought, and food insecurity, including on-the-ground work in West and Central Africa with Mercy Corps. Served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a predominantly Muslim community in Guinea, West Africa. Currently works in a freelance capacity in international development on program development and implementation, humantarian response, and offering spiritual care to humanitarian professionals. Trained as end-of-life doula, yoga teacher. M.Div. Iliff School of Theology with concentration in Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy, MS in International Development and MBA, American University.

Ch. Tuba Kaya

Chaplain, instructor, counselor and a licensed interpreter. Graduate of Hartford Seminary in Connecticut with MA in Islamic Studies, Christian-Muslim Relations and Dialogue, certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy. Worked as university chaplain intern at Cornell University and CPE clinical pastoral education at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. Board member of Institute of Islamic and Turkish Studies in Raleigh. Instructor at Continuing Studies Department of Duke University on Islam and spirituality. Worked at Duke University as a clinical chaplain resident. Instructor at Respect Graduate School chaplaincy program.

Khurram Ahmed, B.C.C.

Currently Board Certified Chaplain at City of Hope Medical Center, South California. Previously staff chaplain and CPE at Cedars-Sinai Spiritual Care Department (2015-2021). M.Div. in Islamic Chaplaincy from Bayan Islamic Graduate School. Served as a staff chaplain in several large and diverse health systems in California, New York, and Ohio. Crisis Counselor for a National Text Line. BA at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, as well as graduate studies at the University of the West Indies, in Kingston, Jamaica. Khurram was born in Pakistan and grew up in the Caribbean, with time split between Jamaica and Barbados.

Kristen Jawad

Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Advanced training in compassionate communication, mediation, restorative practices, life coaching, traditional healing and spiritual care. In 2005, Marshall Rosenberg inspired her to offer empathic accompaniment to people experiencing inter and intrapersonal conflict. She instantly recognized the value of listening for feelings and needs. For two decades, she has shared effective ways to reduce harm and heal trauma – integrating brain, body, and mind. Two units CPE from CPSP at Respect Graduate School.

Ch. Onur Kaya

Onur Kaya is a graduate of the Journalism Department of Marmara University’s Faculty of Communication. He worked for 25 years in newspapers, television, and magazines. He has completed his M.Div equivalent Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy degree at Hartford Seminary in the United States. Chaplain Kaya has four units of CPE training from ACPE, CPSP, and RGS. He served as the Muslim Distinctive Religious Group Leader in the US Air Force between 2019-2023. He has been working as the founding director of the Spiritual Care and Counseling Department at Respect Graduate School for over 3 years. He attended Effective Speaking and Leadership courses at Toastmasters International for four years. He served as an imam at mosques in Houston and Austin. Imam Kaya visited prisoners for three years in prison. He took a course on “Preparing Islamic Legal Documents for Marriage, Birth, and Death Situations” from Harvard Professor Dr. Talal Eid. He is a US citizen and the CPE Programs Director at RGS.

Sh. Yusuf Rios

Islamic Psychology and Tradition from the Asheera Academy for Higher Education (under the auspices of Al-Azhar University), Madrasatul-Hamd, and Masjid Al-Azhar. Experience in teaching Islamic studies and Arabic Language, with general and specialized licenses (Ijazah) in the Hadith Sciences. He has also been involved with the Muslim community as Imam for Jummah prayer and as a Chaplain with correctional facilities. BA in Western Philosophy and Sociology from John Carroll University and working on a Masters in Islamic Sciences at the Islamic University of Minnesota. Served as instructor with Islamic American University, al-Huda University, Guidance College and the Shaukani Institute. Founding member of the Three Puerto Rican Imams project for relief and support of those who suffered after hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Daniel Davila, B.C.C.

Former Director of Spiritual Care at Austin State Hospital and supervisor/trainer of chaplain interns at Austin State Hospital. Board Certified Clinical Chaplain and Diplomate with CPSP (College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy). Serves on the ASH Spanish Language Interpreter Program. Ordained and endorsed by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. BA at Evangel University, M.Div. at Philipps University Graduate Seminary, MAR at the Iliff School of Theology and he also did graduate work at St. Thomas Catholic Seminary in Denver and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. CPE in Tulsa Hillcrest Medical Center, Corpus Christi Memorial Medical Center and Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Taught pastoral care and counseling in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. Served as President in the Weslaco Ministerial Alliances and in the Austin Latin Ministerial Alliance.

Tuba Alpat, M.D., B.C.C.

Physician by training in Istanbul, Turkey. Masters at Hartford Seminary with concentration on Muslim-Christian relations. Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy. Four units of CPE at MD Anderson, BSLMC, and Texas Children’s Hospital. Staff Chaplain at UT MD Anderson 2019-2022. Board Certified on 10/2020 through APC. Currently serving Texas Children’s Hospital as a Workforce Chaplain supporting healthcare professionals.

Reyhane Daglar, ACSW

Certified Social Worker, Life Coach, and Clinical Hypnotherapist. B.A. in Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. M.A. at New York University. Experienced in providing support to children, teens, adults, and parents. Previously worked as an inpatient psychotherapist at Canyon Ridge Hospital in California. Research and studies at Association for Psychological and Spiritual Sciences.

Salih Yucel, Ph.D.

B.A. in Islamic Theology at the University of Ankara. Undertook various ecclesiastical roles for ten years for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Turkey. M.A. of Theology at the University of Sydney in 1996. Postgraduate studies in the United States and completed doctorate at Boston University in 2007. Worked as a Muslim Chaplain at Harvard Medical School’s hospitals for seven years. Then worked as a lecturer at the Centre for Religious Studies at Monash University between 2008-2014. Currently teaches at the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilization at Charles Sturt University in Sydney. Also the first Muslim Clinical Pastoral Supervisor in Australia.

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