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Spiritual Care


Care of the Soul

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human one," writes Teilard de Chardin. It is a recognition that our spiritual needs are at the core of who we are as humans. It is up to us to help our providers address our spiritual needs, lest we fall short of assisting them in giving us the personalized care we need in the best way possible. As Jason Wolf, the President of the Beryl Institute says, "When we touch on the essence of humanity at our core - the very spirit that accompanies the body in each care encounter, we reveal boundless opportunities to positively impact the overall health of each individual."

Pastoral care is an ancient model of emotional and spiritual support that is found in all cultures and traditions. In our modern context it is generally described as situations where trained pastoral care givers support others in their pain, loss and anxiety, and their triumphs, joys and victories. Chaplaincy Services in medicine provide pastoral and spiritual care services to patients, their families and staff members. They provide care in times of physical, emotional and spiritual crisis and concern. While, the end goal of spiritual care may be to help those who are dying feel whole, fulfilled and in harmony with their world and the people in it, there are important aspects of spiritual care that are involved in non-terminal treatments and interactions as well. Chaplains are able to help align care plans with the values of the patient and promote a culture of respect and dignity based on listening to help bring meaning, find hope and comfort to patients and their families. In short, pastoral care seeks to humanize the patient's experience of care. As Chaplain Margo Richardson explains, "When we help people to feel understood, heard and is a focused intention on bringing the whole person into the care encounter...acknowledging not just the diagnosis, but the emotions, fear, concern, anxiety, etc. that flavors any and all care encounters."


Supporting Diverse Spiritual Needs

You are always welcomed to seek out spiritual care via pastoral or chaplaincy services. These services typically include:

  • 24 hour on-call pastoral care
  • Collaboration with other disciplines
  • Provision of interfaith religious/spiritual resources
  • Partnering with community spiritual leaders
  • Provision of religious resources to patients and staff
  • Charting spiritual/pastoral interventions and outcomes
  • Participation in patients’ case conferences such as:
    -Discharge planning
    -Palliative care
  • Availability for consultation on ethical concerns and end of life decisions
  • Helping to find meaning during illness
  • Facing issues of death and dying
  • Expressing frustration, fear, hurt, doubt
  • Loss of hope or feeling life is not worthwhile
  • Sense or feelings of abandonment, loneliness and isolation
  • Family concerns
  • Questions about faith or loss of faith
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of losing control
  • Relationship with God
  • Guilt, fear and internal conflict
  • Grief and bereavement

Additional Resources:

Spiritual Health Care  

Consideration of Culture, Spirituality and Religion for Providers (with useful tips for patients)