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The Greek word “charis” means grace and goodwill.

It conveys the mercy and lovingkindness by which God strengthens mankind and turns lives around. Through rigorous research, the Charis Institute is uncovering the power of “charis” to strengthen lives and support marriages and families as cornerstones of every society. That is the heart of the institute.

We seek to provide essential content and program evaluation skills to help the church address these common questions connected to supporting healthier marriages and families: What to do? | How to do it? | Does it work?

Housed within the Regent University School of Psychology & Counseling, the institute is an initiative supported by the Rosemarie S. Hughes Endowed Scholarship of Christian Thought in Mental Health Practice.

Our projects include

  • Ministry training for churches in listening ministry and lay-helping,
  • Training of professional therapists in competency addressing religion and spirituality,
  • Grace and Hope marriage ministry curriculum for church marriage ministry
  • Hope-focused couple counseling training and services in our clinic on campus,

The Charis Institute is co-led by Professor Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D. and Professor Jim Sells, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Ripley, Charis Institute, Regent University.

Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Ripley has studied marriage and family structures for more than 25 years, with particular interest in the effects of hope and grace on marital reconciliation and resilience. She directs the work of The Hope Couples Project and trains emerging professional therapists in using this hope-focused approach. Additionally, Ripley has written numerous articles and professional scientific presentations on the experiences of the couples she and her team have served – more than 500 couples and counting!

Dr. James Sells, Charis Institute, Regent University.

James Sells, Ph.D.

Dr. James Sells, a licensed psychologist, holds more than two decades of training and practice in the fields of education, counseling, and psychology. His interests include marital and family therapy, supervision/professional identity formation, international applications of counseling, and forgiveness/reconciliation. As a scholar, researcher, and therapist, he strives to consider the great influences of culture and individual need as he attends to the grand theme of reconciliation and redemption. Sells is passionate about helping the Church increase its impact in response to its mission to “the least of these …” Matthew 25:45.