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Amish Spirituality: Exploring Its Unique Sociocultural Context, Donald Kraybill, PhD

Amish Spirituality:

Exploring Its Unique Sociocultural Context

This program is sponsored by WellSpan Philhaven.


Donald Kraybill, PhD
Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow Emeritus

Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, PA

Credits Available

6 APA CE Credits for Psychologists or Social Worker Credits


Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
Lunch is included. 

Target audience

This workshop is designed for psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and therapists. 


A growing number of Old Order Amish and Mennonites are using mental health services. It is important that psychologists and therapists working with them understand the sociocultural characteristics of Old Order spirituality and their religious communities. 


Amish Spirituality (as well as Old Order Mennonite spirituality) is embedded in a communal context quite different from the individualistic spirituality of many mainstream Americans. Furthermore, therapists—trained in a professional culture oriented to self-actualization, individual agency and choice—may struggle to navigate their personal and professional values with clients who are immersed in a communal culture that exerts restraints on individual choice. The seminar will open up the world of Amish spirituality and define its unique sociocultural characteristics and practices. Several case studies will demonstrate the dilemmas facing clients seeking to reconcile their individual inclinations with the communal restraints of the religious community. The seminar will sensitize participants to these issues and enhance their cultural competence as they interact with Amish and Old Order Mennonite clients.


Teaching Methods

Formal presentation, short video clip, Q&A, case studies and interaction with a member of the Amish community


Learning Objectives

At the end of this seminar, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the core values of Old Order Amish and Mennonite spirituality.
  2. Distinguish between Old Order values and practices and those of individualistic spirituality common in American society.
  3. Understand the tension between the restraints of Old Order religious communities and the self-agency or choice interests of some members.
  4. Understand the centrality and communal features of forgiveness.
  5. Describe the implications of communal spirituality for therapists trained in self-actualization.
  6. Enhance their own therapeutic approaches when interacting with Old Order clients.   

Our Presenter

Donald B. Kraybill, PhD, is Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow emeritus in the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College (PA). Kraybill received his PhD in Sociology from Temple University.
Internationally recognized for his scholarship on Anabaptist groups, he is the author, coauthor or editor of some thirty books and dozens of professional articles. His books have been translated into eight different languages. Besides his own publications, he was the founding editor of Young Center Books in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, a series of two dozen titles published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Professor Kraybill’s research and commentary on Anabaptist groups is often featured in magazines, newspapers, radio, television and online.

He is the lead author of two books on Amish spirituality. No other books on the topic have been published. Five of his books analyze the religious and cultural practices of Lancaster County’s Old Order Amish. His Horse-and-Buggy Mennonites: Hoofbeats of Humility in a Postmodern World, published by Penn State Press, describes the Old Order “Wenger Mennonites” of Lancaster County. A revised edition of his The Amish of Lancaster County appeared in 2019.


8:30–9 a.m.

9–10:30 a.m.
Overview of Values and Practices of Amish Spirituality

10:30–10:45 a.m.

10:45 a.m.– Noon
Forgiveness: A Portal into the Amish Soul


1–2:30 p.m.
Communal vs. Individualistic Spirituality

2:30–2:45 p.m.

2:45–4:20 p.m.
Real-Life Case Studies

4:20–4:30 p.m.
Wrap up and evaluation


  • $149 per person
  • Each attendee must register individually.    
  • WellSpan staff - no charge with supervisor's approval (secure approval prior to registering)

Registration Deadline

August 30, 2019


WellSpan Philhaven’s Grace M. Pollock Training & Community Center
283 S Butler Road
Mt. Gretna, PA 17064

Event Contact

Daphne Hathaway, MA Ed
Professional and Program Development Coordinator
(717) 270-2482
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