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Dr. Joanna Wojtkowiak

Joanna Wojtkowiak

Assistant professor psychological aspects of existential care/ Universitair docent Psychologische en levensbeschouwelijke aspecten van existentiële begeleiding




wetenschappelijk personeel


Joanna Wojtkowiak has a background in cultural psychology (MSc) and a PhD in Religious Studies (both obtained at the Radboud University Nijmegen). She worked at the VU medical center on a research project on care ethics in decision-making at the end of life. Since 2012 she is working as researcher and lecturer at the University of Humanistic Studies at the department of Humanist Chaplaincy Studies. Her research focuses on rituals, meaning making and chaplaincy/ spiritual care from multidisciplinary perspectives, such as religious studies, cultural psychology, anthropology and philosophy.


  • emerging rituals in plural society
  • rituals in chaplaincy and spiritual care
  • ritual design and methods for ritual making
  • birth and death as transitional experiences
  • natality, mortality and meaning in life
  • cultural aspects of meaning making
  • embodied and pluralistic spirituality


Research Portal University of Humanistic Studies

Wojtkowiak, J. (2022). Ritual (Re)design. Towards a Framework for Professional Ritual Making in Postsecular Contexts. Yearkbook for Ritual and Liturgical Studies, Vol 38, open acess.

Wojtkowiak, J. & Mathijssen, B. (2022). Birth and death: Studying ritual, embodied practices and spirituality at the start and end of life. Religions, 13(9), 820. open access

Wojtkowiak, J. (2022). Ritual and military socialization. In D. Wortmeyer, Deep loyalties: Agency in military lives, Advanced  Series in Cultural Psychology (edited volume by Jaan Valsiner). IAP: Information Age Publications, Charlotte, N.C. Link

Wojtkowiak, J. & Schuhmann, C. (2022), Natality and relational transcendence in humanist chaplaincy. Religions, 13(4), open access.

Wojtkowiak, J. (2021). Reflecting on rituals for death and dying in healthcare settings during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from Chaplaincy. In P. Post, M. Klomp, M. Hoondert & M. Barnard (Eds.), Handbook of disaster ritual. Multidisciplinary perspectives, cases and themes. Leuven: Peeters Publishers. open access.

Wojtkowiak, J. (2021). Grief, trauma and meaning making after disaster. In P. Post, M. Klomp, M. Hoondert & M. Barnard (Eds.), Handbook of disaster ritualMultidisciplinary perspectives, cases and themes. Leuven: Peeters Publishers. open access.

Wojtkowiak, J., Lind, J. & Smid, G.E. (2021). Ritual in therapy for prolonged grief: A scoping review of ritual elements in evidence-informed grief interventions. Frontiers in Psychiatry, doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.623835

Wojtkowiak, J. (2020). Ritualizing pregnancy and childbirth: Exploring embodied spirituality at the start of life. Religions, 11(9), 458. Open access.

Schuhmann, C., Wojtkowiak, J., van Lierop, R. & Pitstra, F. (2020). Humanist chaplaincy according to Northwestern European humanist chaplains: towards a framework for understanding chaplaincy in secular societies. Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy, Open access.

Wojtkowiak, J. & Crowther, S. (2018). An existential and spiritual discussion about childbirth: Contrasting spirituality at the beginning and end of life. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 5(4), 261-271.

Wojtkowiak, J. (2018). Towards a psychology of ritual: A theoretical framework of transformative ritual in a globalising world. Culture & Psychology, 24 (4), 460-476.

Wojtkowiak, J., Knibbe, R. & Goossenen, A. (2018). Emerging ritual in pluralistic society: a comparison of six non-religious European celebrant training programmes. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 8(1), 77-90.

Wojtkowiak, J. (2017) Sensing the dead. The role of embodiment, the senses and material objects in the ritualization of mourning (pp. 158-171). In J. Gordon-Lennox, Emerging ritual in secular societies. A transdisciplinary conversation. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Wojtkowiak, J. Wild, V. & Egger, J. (2012). Grief experiences and expectance of suicide. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 42(1), 56-66.

Articles in Dutch

Wojtkowiak, J. & De Jongen, E. (2020). Afscheidsrituelen in tijden van Corona. Tijdschrift voor Geestelijke Verzorging, 23, (91), 8-13.

Wojtkowiak, J. (2019). Zinvol leven in een veranderende samenleving. Psyche en Geloof, 30(4), 277-284.

Wojtkowiak, J. (2018). Rouw en ritueel in de westerse context. In R. van Uden & L. Vergouwen (Red.). Weerloos – weerbaar. Culturele en morele aspecten van verlies. Tilburg: KSGV.

See for a complete overview


  • Bachelor "Psychology In Humanistic Studies"
  • Master "Rituele begeleiding bij grenservaringen"
  • "Fundamentals of celebrancy" in one-year educational celebrant teaching program

Lidmaatschappen en functies

Reviewer journals, o.a. Social Science and Medicine, Death Studies, PLOS one, International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, European Journal for Psychotraumatology, Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Journal of Palliative Medicine

Board member/Chair IRILIS - Institute for Ritual and Liturgical Studies (PThU)