Spirituality is about the search for meaning and purpose in life

Spiritual health is part of overall health, but sometimes neglected. People may be put off exploring spirituality if the words or images used seem alien to them. WELLHEAD seeks to overcome this by offering an accessible framework, acceptable from different religious standpoints and worldviews.

The WELLHEAD framework offers a way for exploring, assessing and supporting spiritual health and wellbeing. This can be life-changing in seasons of transition, helping to gain awareness and perspective for now and the future.

WELLHEAD was originated by Dr Katharyn Mumby, based on a program of research, from which the WELLHEAD Toolkit emerged.

More about the Toolkit

More about the Research 

Guiding Principles

Structured Framework

Some people find that existing religions are incompatible with their experience or perception, so it may be helpful to offer alternative frameworks and language to consider spirituality. 

WELLHEAD adopts neutral terms for 4 dimensions as set out in the WELLHEAD Toolkit. It offers participants choices about how they approach meaning and purpose in their life, and the role of religion faith and belief.

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The framework aligns with other existing approaches to spiritual health. (Mumby and Grace , 2019)

It has been found acceptable and accessible within feasibility work. (Mumby & Roddam , 2021)

Holistic Approach

Reflecting a ‘bio-psycho-social spiritual model’  (Sulmazy, 2002), spirituality is seen as integral to health.

It is distinct from religion, though may include it. Spirituality is inherent in all aspects of life, and yet at the same time paradoxically beyond human experience, sometimes ‘other-worldly’, requiring awareness.


Person-centred care is important for many professions supporting adults. WELLHEAD is trans-professional (not confined to one user group),  adaptable, and it may suit a wide range of adult participants (though not intended for those in crisis, or with learning disabilities). Further applications are being explored.


WELLHEAD seeks to be inclusive: using simple communication and respecting personal values. A facilitator using the WELLHEAD Toolkit brings unconditional, non-judgmental listening, compassion, and kindness. Priority is given to the perspective of the participant. They are offered choices of words and images, and which questions to think about.


They determine where the exploration goes. Both scientific and intuitive perspectives are included. Measurements combine with descriptive accounts, as a means of interpreting spiritual growth. WELLHEAD has proved to be a suitable framework for use with those who have communication impairment, including mild cognitive or visual problems.

The story of WELLHEAD development

Katharyn Mumby’s life story involves integrating two perspectives: found in voluntary work as a licensed lay minister, and professional work as a speech and language therapist (outlined in a co-edited book). The WELLHEAD framework, transposed from biblical insights in Ephesians 3:18, offered neutral language, and took on research significance in 2016. It provided the carrier for a practical approach to supporting spirituality, in the form of ‘The WELLHEAD Toolkit’, a set of resources coproduced with people with language impairment (aphasia, which is acquired language difficulty following brain damage) to ensure ease of communication.

The Wellhead Toolkit

Exploring Further

The culmination of eight years of academic research in the NHS and independently, the WELLHEAD Toolkit has been published, and includes links to online versions of all the resources (except the Manual) for use in videoconferencing. Given that the Toolkit was developed with people with aphasia, some of whom had extra cognitive and visual problems, it brings simple language and potentially symbolic pictures, and it can be suitable in mild dementia. Of course, being accessible, it may also be useful for people who have no communication impairment at all! It doesn’t require you to be an academic, just to come with a willingness to share and be open to discovery. A facilitator provides a ‘safe space’ where the participant’s exploration is held gently, and signposting to further resources may be provided.

The WELLHEAD Toolkit provides a detailed structure for facilitating a conversation about spiritual health and wellbeing, suitable for people with communication impairment. It offers scaffolding for a one-to-one interview (between a participant and a facilitator), based on exploring ‘meaning and purpose’ via four neutral dimensions of WIDE LONG HIGH and DEEP. Each dimension is self-scored by participants, and leads naturally on to setting ‘Next Steps’, a form of practical goal-setting. The act of sharing about spirituality using WELLHEAD affirms and validates the specific view and story of the participant. Putting goals for spiritual health and wellbeing into words authenticates them, acting as a catalyst for change. The goals and self-scores offer reference points for evaluating change as part of an intervention program, or simply to support spiritual growth.

About Dr Katharyn Mumby

“My heart lies in practical spirituality and ministry. I have a long career as a Speech and Language Therapy clinician-researcher, offering experience and communication expertise within the NHS, third sector organisations, further education, and now within independent practice. I am particularly interested in adjustment processes after trauma or loss, with the impact of communication impairment and neurological change, and holistic care including spiritual health. These themes cross into my voluntary role as a Licensed Lay Minister in the Church of England. I am drawn to working with people on the boundaries and finding ways of being unconditionally inclusive.

I have a PhD (Psychology, 2008) from the University of Manchester, and maintain professional memberships and safeguards which underpin my research and practice. I have published ‘The WELLHEAD Toolkit’ from my spirituality research work, and a co-edited book on ‘Perspectives on Spirituality in Speech and Language Therapy’.”

What’s in a name?

The name ‘WELLHEAD’ is made using the consonant sounds which start the words: WIDE LONG HIGH and DEEP. There is a close link between spiritual health and mental health, which is reflected in the name WELLHEAD, though of course spiritual health is not just intellectual, but encompasses all aspects of wellbeing.

Exploring spiritual health and wellbeing can be likened to visiting a well.

WELLHEAD is a chance to come to a quiet, still, accepting place by the well of life, in safe company. Offered in kindness and compassion, exploration is intended to give an overview (not a ‘deep dive’): a chance to discern what may be important, weigh it up in terms of ideals and experience, find perspective and direction.

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