When Is Pastoral Care and Counseling Indicated?
Coping with medical issues is stressful whether it is injury, receiving
a diagnosis, chronic disease or terminal illness. Helping patients and
caregivers deal with the stress that is part of medical treatment. This
often involves counseling patients regarding medical options or using
psychological approaches to address anxiety and stress. Yet, for many
people, this does not completely address their needs. Enveloped within
medical issues are spiritual issues for many people.
For some people spiritual issues are overt and easily identified. This
may include questions about what is the will of God, seeking healing through
prayer or religious rituals, and using spiritual resources such as prayer
and scripture to cope.
For other people the experience of illness is also a spiritual issue though
not explicit. It is more subtle. It may emerge through discussions about
the meaning of illness in the person’s life. Some indicators that
spirituality is involved in health care are:
- The need for forgiveness – This may include the need to forgive others
and/or the need to forgive oneself.
- Unresolved conflicts with loved ones – Illness and disease are stressful
and can create or escalate exiting tensions in relationships.
- Questions about the meaning of life: “Why me?” “What
did I do?” “What am I doing to my family?” “Is
this a punishment for a past wrong? “Is there life after death?”
“Why is there suffering in my life?”
The Hospital Chaplain
The Hospital Chaplain is a referral resource to help patients and family
members as they address life changing experiences and the subsequent questions
that emerge about the meaning of life. For some patients and family members
their spirituality is defined through a religious affiliation and for
other persons spirituality is more latent.
The Hospital Chaplain is a resource person who can help those with an
identified religious affiliation to cope more effectively by using their
spiritual resources such as prayer, scriptures and pastoral counseling.
The Hospital Chaplain is also a resource to persons that are not affiliated
with a religious group. The Hospital Chaplain is prepared to help them
discuss important issues and questions as well as define their own values
and life meaning. The Hospital Chaplain seeks to help those they serve
to access the higher human values – intelligence, compassion, forgiveness,
acceptance, peace, community, consolation – and apply them to present
day events, crises, and challenges.
Upon request, and with consent of the patient and/or caregiver, the Hospital
Chaplain can contact a minister, rabbi, imam or other spiritual support person.
How Can I Contact a Hospital Chaplain?
Pastoral Care is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
to provide spiritual and emotional support. To make a referral to the
Area Religious Leaders and Spiritual Care
- Call 240-566-3300 and ask the operator to page the Hospital Chaplain
- Dial “0” and ask the operator to page the Hospital Chaplain
- Ask the nurse to contact the on-call Chaplain.
- Area Religious Leaders are encouraged to provide spiritual care to those
to whom they have a direct Pastoral Relationship or Responsibility;
We encourage ALL Area Religious Leaders to have a badge provided through
the Pastoral Care Department at the badging office. For more information:
telephone - 240-566-4635 email –
- Visiting by Area Religious Leaders to the general inpatient population
for spiritual care is prohibited.
Learn More about the Clinical pastoral Education Program
- Assistance in notifying patient/family members’ personal Clergy,
Priest, Rabbi, Church, or Worship Center;
24 hour access to the
Hope Interfaith Chapel;
- Sacred Texts and spiritual support materials.
- Assistance in filling out Advance Directives