Ruah Woods Collaborates with the Identity Project

Ruah Woods is pleased to announce a new collaboration with the Identity Project.

Dr. Andrew Sodergren was invited to record and contribute to the library of videos from leading experts discussing the human person and sexuality. Mass confusion about “gender,” the body, humanity, & sexuality have devastating consequences, especially for young people.   How do you hold to sanity and truth while loving those who are lost, confused, and even self-deceived? The Identity Project aims to equip you to lovingly respond to broken and hurting people in their struggle with sexuality, “gender,” and identity.  The Identity Project contains over 150 videos (and growing monthly) featuring experts in parenting, psychology, psychiatry, theology, education, and law among many others. The Identity Project is designed for parents, grandparents, ministry leaders, teachers, & anyone trying to navigate these issues with truth, wisdom, & faith.

To learn more visit

2023 Banquet: Dr. Mary Rice Hasson

We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who joined as at our 2023 Ruah Woods Institute Annual Banquet. The event was a success and we continue to appreciate all of the generous support. Thanks to that generosity, Ruah Woods Institute has been able to reach more than 710 schools and parishes with our curriculum, with over 110 schools becoming TOB Campuses in the last year. We have also had the opportunity to provide 84 teacher trainings to continue to support the formation of educators. Thank you for your contributions and for celebrating with us last month. Those of you who missed it, or would like to revisit it, we have a recording available of Dr. Mary Rice Hasson’s presentation. She provided an insightful reflection on what is happening in our culture when the narrative is based upon a false anthropology. She passionately affirmed the need to courageously speak the truth, with love & mercy, about God’s plan & purpose for the pinnacle of His creation the human person to flourish.

Watch her informative, insightful & inspiring 36-minute presentation,
“The Fundamental Truth of Our Dignity & Identity for a Culture in Crisis.”

“Who Am I? Discovering Our Identity in Christ.”

Dr. Andrew Sodergren delivered the keynote at our Ruah Woods Institute Luncheon this past May. He chose the topic of identity and finding our identity in Christ. Our culture bombards us with false claims about who the human person is and what our identity should be predicated upon. Yet, our Creator, from the beginning, & through the example of Jesus Christ, invites us to discover who we are based upon our Father’s love. There is a divine order, design and purpose for the human person, created male or female in God’s image. We are enlightened and inspired by this message of hope in the truth of how God views each one of us as a unique, irreplaceable & unrepeatable gift. When we know who we are in Christ, we can strive to act accordingly to become who we were created to be.

You can view Dr. Sodergren’s 27-minute keynote here:

Dr. Andrew Sodergren Honored at 2023 CPA Conference

Dr. Andrew Sodergren was honored at the Catholic Psychotherapy Association’s 2023 Annual Conference with the Mother of Good Counsel Clinical Excellence Award.

Prayer to Our Mother of Good Counsel

Composed by Sandra McKay, founding President of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association. She drew upon writings attributed to Pope Saint Pius XII, who was devoted to Our Mother of Good Counsel. 

Our dear and sweet Mother whose counsel is ever-wise and knowing, we consecrate ourselves to you, Our Mother of Good Counsel. Grant your intercession throughout the days of our world with people in need.

Place in our hearts and on our lips the words of healing that Your Son would have us know and say.  Grant us the gifts of Healing and Wisdom that our work might always serve God and His desire for holy and healthy people, marriages, families, and communities.Oh Holy Mother Mary, we pray that you will intercede for us that we may teach and live the holiness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the Sacrament of Matrimony, or our vocation in this life, and that we may always have a full and complete respect for the dignity of each human being and that we may love and teach loveas we have been taught by Jesus Himself, you and all the saints. Amen.

Dr. Sodergren was featured as a plenary speaker at this year’s conference, In the BeginningTreatment and Healing of Human Sexuality.

Dr. Sodergren’s presentation provided a sound theological and psychological understanding of the sexual difference (male and female) and a thorough review of the literature on psychotherapeutic approaches to working with gender dysphoria. The first part laid the foundation by reviewing Catholic teaching on sexual difference with special emphasis on the work of Pope St. John Paul II. Next, was an extensive review of the scientific literature on sex differences. Dr. Sodergren detailed a developmental approach to understanding male and female that incorporated key findings from biological, psychological, and neuroscientific studies. The second reviewed the extent of professional literature on psychotherapeutic responses to gender dysphoria. Clinical observations, theory, and case studies were reviewed spanning psychodynamic, behavioral, and integrative approaches. The testimony of and research on detransitioners was also be reviewed.

“3 Transcendentals: Truth, Beauty & Goodness”

San Francisco’s courageous Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone spoke on the “3 Transcendentals: Truth, Beauty & Goodness” at Ruah Woods Institute’s Annual Dinner Banquet & Fundraiser on September 15, 2022.

Archbishop Cordileone’s grandparents were from Sicily; his paternal grandfather was a fisherman and his maternal grandfather, a farmer. The Archbishop’s father, Leon, was born in San Francisco. He moved with his family to San Diego and later worked with his three brothers in the family commercial fishing business. Mary, the Archbishop’s mother, was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She and her family moved to San Diego where she met Leon. The two were married in November 1949.

During Archbishop Cordileone’s first year of college at San Diego State University, he was encouraged by a parish priest to attend a seminary vocation retreat. It was during this first year that the Archbishop discerned his call to the priesthood, entering St. Francis Seminary and transferring as a sophomore to the University of San Diego. He holds undergraduate degrees in Philosophy & Sacred Theology plus a doctoral degree in Cannon Law.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed then-Monsignor Cordileone as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego. He was ordained a bishop in August 2002 & was appointed a Bishop to Oakland by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Three years later, in 2012, he was appointed the Archbishop of San Francisco.

His thought-provoking speech covers the “cancel culture,” moral relativism & the ignorance of the heroic contributions of the Catholic Church throughout history.

He implores faithful Catholics to strive to be beacons of truth, beauty & goodness in a world weakened by error, evil & sin. Learn & be inspired by his insights!

You may view his entire 43-minute keynote here:

Dr. Emily Dowdell, the Latest Therapist to Join the RWPS Team

We are excited to announce the addition of Dr. Emily Dowdell to the RWPS team.  She brings with her an exceptional training background, solid Catholic formation, and unique clinical experience.  Dr. Emily will be seeing patients at our main office on the West Side of Cincinnati.  She recently sat down with us to share a bit about herself. 

Q:  Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m Dr. Emily Dowdell. I’m originally from Rhode Island, born and raised Catholic.  I am currently married with three boys under four years old.  I earned a bachelor’s degree in multimedia communications with minors in film studies and theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. After college, I returned to Rhode Island where I worked as a barista, rock climbing instructor, dog walker, trivia hostess, and freelance graphic designer while building my own wedding photography business. Just as my photography business took off and I had booked twenty-three weddings for the year, the Lord had other plans… He introduced me to the Institute for the Psychological Sciences at Divine Mercy University in Virginia. 

During my doctoral training in psychology, I worked in a variety of settings. My first experience was providing social skills training to youth and adults with severe autism in a community integration program. I then went on to work with adolescent girls, providing groups and individual treatment in a residential addiction program through Phoenix House. I spent a year focusing on diagnostics and assessments at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, a private psychiatric hospital in D.C.

For my internship and postdoctoral years, I was a fellow at Riverview Psychiatric Center the primary state hospital for the state of Maine. While there I had the opportunity to work with both civil and forensically committed individuals with more extreme psychiatric conditions. I facilitated groups, provided individual therapy, and offered psychological testing.

I went on to work with the CatholicPsych Institute in their Rhode Island office providing individual therapy and mentorship. There I became the Director of Assessments, offering psychological testing for diocesan and religious discerners.

Q:  What inspired you to become a psychologist?

I was fortunate to participate in Franciscan University’s study abroad program in Austria. While staying in an old Carthusian Monastery, I had the opportunity to study philosophy and travel to many spiritual pilgrimage sites. I learned about Pope Saint John Paul II’s philosophy of the human person that inspired Theology of the Body and read Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Learning about the dignity of the human person as created in the image of God was huge for my own self-understanding in early adulthood. When I heard about the Institute for the Psychological Sciences at DMU and how their program is designed to integrate the science of psychology with a Catholic view of the human person, I was very intrigued. Finally, I had found an opportunity to learn how to help others learn about and cooperate with their innate dignity.

Q:  What does it mean to you to integrate the practice of psychology and the Catholic faith?

My faith informs everything I do and how I see the world. It’s important to acknowledge that every approach to psychology has philosophical roots and an understanding of what it means to be human at its core. The Catholic vision of the human person offers a more holistic foundation, incorporating the person’s mind, body, and spirit. I want to see and work with the whole person, so it gives me a more balanced perspective when one aspect of the person’s life is out of sync. When working with clients who are or have experienced significant pain and suffering, my faith provides meaning. It anchors the work and gives me the hope I need to continue moving forward. My faith provides me greater clarity, orients me, and gives me a framework to better understand my clients. I ultimately entrust the Lord with the care of my clients and pray that they are receiving what they need at this time to move forward, toward becoming who God made them to be. 

Q:  What types of patients and difficulties do you treat?

Over the course of my training and experience I have provided individual, group, family, and marital therapy. I am most in my element working with individuals (adolescent through older adulthood) as they navigate a variety of challenges including: depression, anxiety, grief and loss, adjustment related issues, post/peripartum disorders, relational issues, vocational and identity concerns, trauma-related disorders, substance use and other addiction, and personality disorders.

Q:  How would you describe your approach to therapy?

I approach therapy primarily from a relational perspective, meaning I focus on building a relationship with my clients. In terms of practice and conceptualization, I integrate different theories and tools from psychodynamic schools of thought (Nancy McWilliams, Lorna Benjamin, Peter Fonagy, Edward Teyber) and evidence-based treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Mindfulness. Regardless of the specifics, therapy always comes back to the individual. As we build our relationship, we will establish goals, and I will select the most relevant approach that suits the person and his or her individual needs.

Q:  What do you like to do for fun? 

For fun, I like to spend time with my three kids and husband. We enjoy spending time outdoors together and going on little adventures. I also enjoy knitting.

To learn more or to make an appointment with Dr. Emily, please call 513-407-8878.

“Called to Freedom: Healing Our Wounds with Theology of the Body.”

Ruah Woods Luncheon Banquet/Fundraiser this year in May was a big success! Our keynote speaker, Dr. Matthew Breuninger delivered an insightful, stirring keynote address, “Called to Freedom: Healing Our Wounds with Theology of the Body.”

Dr. Matthew Breuninger is an associate professor of psychology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned an MA in Theology from Ave Maria University and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Baylor University. Dr. Breuninger is a licensed clinical psychologist. He is the owner of Wellspring Counseling and Coaching–a group therapy practice in Steubenville, Ohio. His clinical interests include anxiety, depression, trauma, and substance abuse. His academic interests lie at the intersection of faith and psychology and include God attachment, the theology of healing, and virtue formation. Dr. Breuninger’s first popular book, Finding Freedom in Christ: Healing Life’s Hurts will be coming out this summer with Emmaus Press. When not teaching Dr. Breuninger can be found spending time camping, fishing, or watching movies with his wife and six children.

You may view his entire 48-minute keynote here:

Damon Owens Keynote

We were incredibly blessed to have Damon Owens as our keynote speaker for our annual banquet (Fr. Riccardo was unable to attend due to sickness). He gave a brilliant address about the importance of living out Theology of the Body in our families and promoting it to the world.

RWPS Expands Northward

You spoke, and we listened.  For 10 years, Ruah Woods Psychological Services has served the greater Cincinnati-area, providing high quality psychological services deeply informed by our Catholic faith.  Almost from the start, calls have come in from individuals and families residing in the northern parts of our archdiocese such as Sidney, Dayton, Springfield, and so on, seeking our services or a referral to similar providers in those areas.  After listening to their needs and experiencing firsthand the difficulty of finding Catholic faith-informed mental healthcare, RWPS discerned a call to expand its practice to two locations so as to serve not only the Cincinnati-area but also the greater Dayton-area and the northern parts of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Beginning in July 2021, RWPS is partnering with the Transfiguration Center for Spiritual Renewal to open a satellite office on their campus located just northwest of Dayton.  According to director Ron Mills, “The mission of the Transfiguration Center is to help people encounter the living God through the beauty of nature, the peace of prayer and the richness of the Catholic spiritual tradition.” 

As Mills explained, “Our staff and board recognize a need in the local community and society in general for sound mental health services with an appreciation for an individual’s sense of faith. We believe this can serve the development of the whole person from not only a spiritual aspect but also from a mental health perspective, which is necessary, complementary and extremely important.”

The initiative to partner with RWPS was especially spurred by Fr. Eric Bowman, pastor of the Church of the Transfiguration in West Milton, who regularly encounters the need for faithfully Catholic mental health providers in his priestly ministry.  “We were inspired to partner with Ruah Woods because of the great need in our surrounding area for a strong Catholic counseling service and the successful program at Ruah Woods,” he affirmed.

RWPS is excited to collaborate with the Transfiguration Center to meet these needs.  Our newest provider, Alex Wallace, will be championing this project.  He is a licensed clinical counselor and ardent Catholic.  When asked what inspired him to join the RWPS team, Wallace shared, “I have long desired to be a resource for the Church and I greatly value what has been accomplished by Ruah Woods in that regard. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I discerned that it would be more effective to bring my talents, education, training, and passion alongside those who are already doing the work I feel called to do.”   

Based at the Transfiguration Center, Wallace will serve the mental health needs of the greater Dayton area full-time.  “I am extremely excited about this opportunity to bring counseling services to the area so that I can help people on their journey while upholding what is true, good, and beautiful,”  Wallace said. 

According to Fr. Bowman, “The Transfiguration Center is a wonderful place for Catholic faith informed mental health services for several reasons.  The first is location.  The Transfiguration center is located just 35 minutes from downtown Dayton, 40 minutes from Springfield, 30 minutes from Sidney.  The second reason is the grounds of our facility.”  As Mills explained, the Center is situated “on 173 acres of beautiful Ohio countryside” replete with “beautiful gardens, a goldfish pond, a reflection pond, and miles of walking trails near the scenic Stillwater River.”  “There is an immediate sense of peace…  That has always been one of the things people frequently comment about, so it is a wonderful refuge for anyone seeking a calm and quiet atmosphere to unplug and get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life,” he added.

Everyone at RWPS is overjoyed to announce this collaboration and the opening of the Dayton-area satellite office led by Mr. Wallace. Now with two locations, RWPS is poised to serve the needs of the entire Archdiocese, from Cincinnati to Dayton and beyond. Please join with the staff and board of RWPS and of the Transfiguration Center in welcoming Mr. Wallace, spreading the word, and praying for all involved as we endeavor to empower men and women to more fully embrace and live out their vocation to love according to God’s plan.

For more information or to make an appointment at either of location, call 513-407-8878.

Meet Alex Wallace, M.A., LPCC