|Pastoral care week theme: A healing presence
By Rev. Christopher
The theme of Pastoral Care Week, Oct. 24-30, is healing presence.
The week is a time to highlight the invaluable work of chaplains.
Chaplains always are present to support patients and their families and
staff. Their supportive presence is an act of care which helps healing.
Supportive presence is therefore a healing presence.
Generally speaking, spiritual care is the work of every health care
worker. Many health care workers understand the need to be a ‘general
practitioner’ in spiritual care. What is required for this function is
to demonstrate real presence—a sharing of oneself that can lead to
More health care professionals are acknowledging that good spiritual
health and good medical attention are an unbeatable combination in
excellent patient care. During Pastoral Care Week, MUSC Pastoral Care
gives a Caring Spirit Award in recognition of health care workers who
demonstrate, above and beyond, excellence in spiritual care to patients
and their families at MUSC.
Whenever we walk into a hospital room, we are there to see a person,
not just a patient. Our presence helps them know they are not alone in
their fears and that they are safe. Certainly this experience can be
enhanced by what we say and how we say it, but basically it is our
presence that gives comfort. This reaching out to sick people can be a
joyful experience, but also can be hard work. Despite the difficulties
we may encounter in reaching out to those who are sick, we are obliged
to help them remember that they are not alone in their pain and
suffering. We are all called to use and bestow our gift of presence and
exercise our greatest skill—listening.
The essence of healing presence is a non-anxious, non-judgmental,
responsive and empathic listening. Being able to talk to a responsive
listener helps patients to see their own problems and find solutions.
Listening responsively represents an effort at entering the other
person’s inner world. We must learn to listen responsively, offering
encouragement when it is necessary and reacting with our feelings as
much as with our words. We respond to people from where they are and
not from where we are.
To be effective, we must continually strive to honestly assess our
thoughts and attitudes to determine whether we really see others as
human beings. We are all called to exercise a therapeutic role, one
which calls for deep commitment to and deep involvement in common human
concerns. The core of this involvement is the healing presence—a true
availability to others which proceeds from our wholeness which, as it
is shared, becomes the vehicle through which effective healing flows.
We have been touched; we should also touch others, too.
Friday, Oct. 22, 2010