Mental Health and Hospital Chaplaincy: Strategies of Self-Protection (Case Study: Toronto, Canada)

Iranian journal of psychiatry and behavioral sciences 03/2013; 7(1):69-77.
Source: PubMed


Objective: This is a study about emotion management among a category of healthcare professional - hospital chaplains - who have hardly been the subject of sociological research about emotions. The aim of the study was to understand how chaplains manage their work-related emotions in order to protect their mental health, whilst also providing spiritual care. Methods: Using in-depth, semi structured interviews, the author spoke with 21 chaplains from five faith traditions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and modern paganism) in different Toronto (Canada) Hospitals to see how they manage their emotion, and what resources they rely on in order to protect their mental health. Data analysis was perfumed according to Sandelowski's method of qualitative description. Results: The average age and work experience of the subjects interviewed in this study are 52 and 9.6 respectively. 11 chaplains worked part-time and 10 chaplains worked full-time. 18 respondents were women and the sample incudes 3 male chaplains only. The findings are discussed, among others, according to the following themes: work-life balance, self-reflexivity, methods of self-care, and chaplains' emotional make-up. Conclusion: Emotion management per se is not a problem. However, if chaplains fail to maintain a proper work-life balance, job pressure can be harmful. As a strategy, many chaplains work part-time. As a supportive means, an overwhelming number of chaplains regularly benefit from psychotherapy and/or spiritual guidance.

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    ABSTRACT: The current investigation examines the communicative hallmarks of successful chaplaincy work as articulated by professional chaplains providing spiritual care at the end-of-life. Data grounded in qualitative interviews with 32 chaplains of various denominations and lengths of service reveals a challenge in gauging success when working with dying patients and families. Chaplains reported nonverbal hallmarks of success consist of (a) intrapersonal sense of accomplishment, (b) progress in fulfilling patient needs, and (c) meaningful connection with patients. Verbal hallmarks of success include (a) patient affirmation, (b) family affirmation, and the (c) chaplain being asked to participate in religious rites. In practice, the authors conjecture, chaplains assess professional competency in the self, patient, and family domains. Implications and future directions are discussed.
    Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 07/2015; 21(4). DOI:10.1080/08854726.2015.1071543

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