TRD Bio

The Reverend Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason is an experienced educator, fellowshipped minister, and licensed psychotherapist (LICSW) who offers Spiritual Direction to individuals, groups, and organizations. She is a noted speaker on the crucial intersections of spirituality and psychotherapy and has offered workshops at and lectures at universities, hospitals, congregations, national conferences, and retreat centers; she is also a prize-winning writer and anthologized essayist. In 2017, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors gave her a Distinguished Contribution Award for “vital contributions to the field of pastoral care and counseling” and her “innovative and visionary leadership” in institutional settings in her region.

Since her ordination by The Community Church of New York, Unitarian Universalist in 2006, she has occupied a host of roles in higher education, counseling centers, and faith communities in both New York and New England. In June 2022, she affiliated with the historic Arlington Street Church in downtown Boston as its Community Minister for Spiritual Direction.

Before moving to the Boston area in 2018 to serve a congregation, TRD worked in New York City, where she acted as Managing Director for the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute, Curriculum Co-Chair for the Association for Spirituality & Psychotherapy, and a Director of Pastoral Care & Counseling Programs at the Blanton-Peale Institute. She taught on faculty at the Columbia University Spirituality Mind-Body Institute at Teachers College, the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion, and Union Theological Seminary, where she was also Pastoral Counselor on the Manhattan campus. Presently she is a Trainer and Mentor for the Apprenticeship Program at the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.

TRD has worked for her denomination and ministers association at the district level, serving as the In Care/In Covenant Coordinator for those in formation in Metro New York to become religious professionals and spiritual leaders. Additionally, she has worked as a clinical supervisor in a number of practice settings. She has a specialty in trauma work and volunteered for years as a member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry. From 2016-2018, she was Community Minister of the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn; from 2018-2021, she was Senior Minister to the UU Society of Wellesley Hills. In 2022, she completed training as Spiritual Director and became a member of the UU Spiritual Direction Spiritual Network as well as Spiritual Directors International (SDI).

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Raised in southern New England, TRD was educated at Catholic and girls’ schools before studying literature and creative writing at Harvard College and the University of Michigan. She graduated with honors from Harvard and as a Colby Fellow at Michigan, she won the 1995 Hopwood Award for Major Essay. She later taught in the English Department at George Washington University and worked as a book reviewer for Washington area newspapers. In 1997, she was named a member of the National Book Critics Circle. That same year she also resided at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts on a Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship. Throughout her career, TRD has been fascinated by sacred story and narrative knowing; even today, she continue to explore their many therapeutic, educative, and spiritual implications. She now writes book reviews for the SDI quarterly journal Presence.

Her dual professional degrees were completed at Union Theological Seminary and the Columbia University School of Social Work, and TRD later earned a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Pastoral Care & Counseling Psychology. TRD has published numerous articles in the popular press as well as in the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, writing on such topics as “The Sacrament of Gratitude” and “Story as Scripture, Therapy, Ritual”. Her interests include narrative practice, trauma studies, feminist theologies, Twelve-Step Recovery, religious literacy, logotherapy, contemplative practices, spiritual autobiography, interfaith dialogue, Universalism, yoga, and American Transcendentalist thought. An anthologized essayist, she has an essay titled “Like Trees: Cultivating Spiritual Practices” is forthcoming in the 2022 volume Praying the Poets.

Today TRD occasionally consults with faith groups on mental health and human flourishing. TRD has served on a number of boards, including those for the Unitarian Universalist Society for Ministerial Relief, the Universalist National Memorial Church, the Murray Grove Association, the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, the Association for Spirituality & Psychotherapy, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and the UU Society for Community Ministries, where she was also its Good Officer.

Currently, she lives outside Boston with her husband Benjamin Daniel Unger, a physician; they keep a house with two fine felines named Luna and Stella and a tank full of tropical fish. She is the convener and Chair of the Spirituality & Flourishing Interest Group in the Flourishing Network at the Harvard University Human Flourishing Program and also a coordinator of the the Greater Boston Regional SDI Gathering of Spiritual Directors, Companions, and Guides.

Further information about The Reverend Dr. and her work is available at her Linked-In profile at www.linkedin.com/in/kellymurphymason.

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