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Three Doors to Spiritual Reflection Ethnographic Research on the Role of Emotion, Images and Sacred Texts in Spiritual Reflection done by non- chaplaincy.

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Presentation on theme: "Three Doors to Spiritual Reflection Ethnographic Research on the Role of Emotion, Images and Sacred Texts in Spiritual Reflection done by non- chaplaincy."— Presentation transcript:


2 Three Doors to Spiritual Reflection Ethnographic Research on the Role of Emotion, Images and Sacred Texts in Spiritual Reflection done by non- chaplaincy Health Care Professionals CASC/ACSS April 15, 2011

3 Authors Thomas St. James OConnor, ThD Michael Chow, MA, MDiv Elizabeth Meakes, MTS Janet Young, MTS Gary Payne, MDiv Myrta Rivera, MA Laura MacGregor, MSc Janet Howitt, MDiv/MSW

4 Introductions of Presenters Michael Chow, M.Div, MA Director, St. Josephs Health System, Diocese of Hamilton Specialist & Teaching Supervisor (CASC) Gary Payne, M.Div Professional Practice Leader, Spiritual Care St. Josephs Healthcare Hamilton Specialist & Teaching Supervisor (CASC)

5 Introductions of participants Who am I? Professional practice? Special interest in this workshop …


7 Our Plan

8 Stepping Back a Little –Overall Research Question –Review of Literature –Sources –Definitions –Findings and Discussion Moving Forward –Role of Emotions, Images & Sacred Texts –Discussion

9 Stepping Back a Little Ethnographic qualitative study 2 articles published –In the Beginning: A Canadian Study on Sources and Definitions of Spiritual Reflection used by Health Care Professionals who are not Chaplains In Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, Vol 64, No 1 (2010) Focus on Sources & Definitions –Three Doors Has been accepted for publication by Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy, NY (March 2011) Focus on Images, Emotions and Sacred Texts


11 Overall Research Question What are the practices of spiritual reflection for health care professionals who are not chaplains who provide spiritual care to their clients?

12 Interview Guide 1) What are the sources you use for spiritual reflection? 2) How do you define spiritual reflection? Any spiritual authors you use? 3. How much time weekly on spiritual reflection? 4. Similarities & differences between prayer & spiritual reflection 5. Goal of spiritual reflection? 6. How important is spiritual reflection for identity? 7. Which groups-colleagues, clients, & other profession.? 8. Role of emotion and images in spiritual reflection? Is there an image or verse from a sacred text that describes spiritual reflection? 9. Give me an example of spiritual reflection from your practice 10. Image or verse from a sacred text and/or any other source that describes it. 11. Any other comments.

13 Review of Literature From In the Beginning publication: No empirical research found on definitions, sources or methods of spiritual reflection used by health care professionals who are not chaplains. Interviewees preferred spiritual reflection, whereas chaplains & pastoral counsellors also used theological reflection

14 Lit Review findings (cont) Spiritual care and spirituality have become more important to many health care disciplines in the last thirty years In the health care disciplines, there is an emphasis on reflective practice Don Schons Reflective Practice is a common text used in many health care disciplines.

15 Lit Review findings (cont) Literature Review focused on three health care disciplines: –nursing, –social work –occupational therapy Examining barriers to practice of spiritual care which includes spiritual reflection

16 Barriers in Nursing Lack of conceptual clarity of spirituality Frequent assumption that spiritual care is same as religious/faith based care Demands placed on bedside nurses in terms of patient care Lack of confidence in dealing with spiritual matters Lack of education regarding spiritual care and reflection

17 Barriers in Social Work The notion that social work, like other health professions in recent decades, has distanced itself from religious belief Increased emphasis on evidence-based practice Lack of appropriate education in the realm of both spiritual care of clients and the role of spirituality as a health professional

18 Occupational Therapists: a philosophical dilemma Canadian Model of Occupational Performance [CMOP], the model that describes the human participant in occupational therapy and the corresponding domain of concern for the profession, spirituality is placed at the central core of the person and model (Baptiste, 2005)

19 Barriers for OTs Debate within the profession: – How to define spirituality or –Whether spirituality belongs in the centre of the occupational therapy model Lack of training in spiritual aspects of care The fear of intruding on anothers beliefs

20 Barriers for OTs (cont) Discomfort by the treatment team when professions explored spirituality Confusion about the role of spirituality Lack of time Their role in terms of spirituality was to refer to pastoral care An assumption that discussing spirituality with clients is taboo or inappropriate Too emotionally charged

21 Other findings In some cases, nurses & OTs became more comfortable providing spiritual care with experience That therapists who considered themselves religious were more likely to have positive attitudes regarding exploring spirituality in their professional life Spiritual reflection has not been addressed nor has the methods and sources for reflection. Nonetheless, spiritual care requires some level of reflection

22 Sample details 20 interviews Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Social Workers, Physiotherapists, Music Therapist, Recreation Therapist, Physician, Psychologist Faith groups included: United Church, Evangelical Christian, Christian Reform, Mennonite, Buddhist, spiritual but no faith group Gender mainly females 17:3 Age: mainly over 40


24 Brief Check In For a few minutes please consider: Is Spiritual Reflection part of your own practice? What are some sources for Spiritual Reflection for you? How do you define Spiritual Reflection?


26 Findings

27 Research Findings: Sources Music 9/20 Sacred text esp. Bible 6/20 No sacred text mentioned 4/20 Personal & client experiences 7/20 - (much of this was personal journey) Variety of spiritual authors used Nature – 4/20

28 Research Findings: Definitions Connecting to Self & others…balance & grounded 9/20 Accessing & discovering the divine 8/20 Meaning and purpose 6/20 Related to daily life 6/20

29 Unexpected Findings Many mentioned no education in spiritual care/reflection None mentioned receiving adequate education

30 Comparison against study on Theological Reflection Sources for Theological vs. Spiritual Reflection Chap/Past Counsellor OT, Nurses, SW 1. Sacred texts 63/75 1.Mus, Art, Lit 11/20 2. Pers. Exp. 50/75 2. Sacred text 11/20 3. Experience/Clients 42/75 3. Per/Prof Exp. 7/20 4. Faith Tradition 39/75 4. No sacred txt 4/20 5. Lit. & Soc. Sci. 26/75 5. Nature 4/20

31 Discussion on Definitions Definitions of Theological vs Spiritual Reflection Chap./Past. Coun.OT., Nurses, SW. Both struggle to define Meaning making Connecting with Self/Other Discovering Divine Discipleship Meaning/purpose


33 Three Doors

34 Role of Emotion, Images & Sacred Texts In the process of Spiritual Reflection By non-chaplaincy health care professionals who offer spiritual care

35 Three Doors Main Finding: That emotion and images are main doors, With sacred texts being a side door


37 5 minute Check In Please consider: What has been your experience with Spiritual Reflection? What are the roles of emotion, images and sacred texts in Spiritual Reflection for you? Is there an image or verse from a sacred text that describes Spiritual Reflection for you?


39 Transformation

40 TRANSFORMATION Outcomes of Spiritual Reflection Deeper sense of peace Grounding and Letting Go Some form of Transformation results from Spiritual Reflection

41 The 3 Doors In our research, we found that emotion and images were the two main doors to spiritual reflection … …A third door used by some was sacred texts but most participants acknowledged that they had little education in the sacred texts. Sacred texts were more of a side door and not the main doors. Also a consequence of this spiritual reflection … was transformation.

42 Role of Emotion, Images and Sacred Texts Affirmed by many writers (Killen & de Beer, 2002; Kinast 1996; Whitehead and Whitehead, 1995) Anton Boisen coined Living Human Document (1952) Gerkin expanded and insisted on hermeneutics (1984)

43 From Human Sciences Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1995) –Cites work of Salovey & Mayer, Domains Fosha, Siegel & Solomon, 2009 Emotions facilitate integration & motivation

44 Spiritual Needs … many healthcare professionals … believe that addressing the spiritual needs of clients and patients is within their scope of practice and part of holistic care. Most research on spirituality and health is done by these non-chaplaincy professionals and researchers…

45 Is there a gap? However with these professionals, there is a gap between research, the interest and the actual practice. It is not known how much spiritual care is actually done by the non-chaplaincy disciplines.

46 Spiritual Care & Therapy Spiritual Care & Therapy traditionally domain of chaplains and community clergy Some are critical of these other professionals doing spiritual care when many have little education and training in this area (Sloan et al., 2000)

47 Care involves Reflection Spiritual Care involves Spiritual Reflection (Schon, 1983; Mezirow, 1997; Mamede & Schmidt, 2004) Reflective practice is important in all health care disciplines. Spiritual reflection can happen in the midst of a visit with patient, in a prayerful time after or in conversation with a colleague.

48 Research lacking? However, there has been no empirical research on the role of emotion, images and sacred texts in spiritual reflection among non-chaplaincy health care professionals.

49 Rationale for study Given lack of empirical research, qualitative study employed Descriptive and ethnographic Goal is to understand and explore the role of emotion, images and sacred texts

50 Secondary Rationale Investigate if there are any similarities and differences between chaplains and other health care professionals in areas of spiritual and theological reflection

51 Methodology Research questions Context Sampling & Participants Procedures and Analyses Standpoint of Researchers

52 Research Questions What are the roles of emotion, images and sacred texts in Spiritual Reflection? Is there an image or verse from a sacred text that describes Spiritual Reflection for you?

53 Context Ethnography studies cultures within their contexts 3 different Canadian health care institutions in Southern Ontario –Large teaching hospital in urban centre –Community hospital in different urban setting –Long term care facility in same city as community hospital

54 Sampling Methodology Varied health care disciplines represented Purposeful sampling by invitation Criteria: –Health care professional –Outside chaplaincy –Engaged in spiritual care and reflection as part of practice Sampling ended when data saturation occurred after 20 interviews

55 Participants description Interviewees fall into 3 groups of spiritual practice: 9 identified as spiritual but not religious, using spiritual practices from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim traditions Another group of 9 from particular Christian denominations (3 United Church of Canada, 4 Evangelical, 1 Christian Reform, 1 Mennonite) 3rd group: 2 Buddhists

56 Procedures Researchers made field notes and were participant observers Ethical approval received from Research Ethics Board of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Interviews audio-taped & transcribed Field notes also part of data

57 Analyses Data analyzed for themes using constant comparative method (inductive data analysis) Then recorded under these emerging themes (deductive data analysis)

58 Validity of Analysis Increased validity through 2 types of triangulation: data and investigator Multiple researchers were involved in designing, interviewing, coding and discussion 6 researches interviewed participants and offered observations on cultures

59 Procedure Another researcher did literature search and involved in discussion of the findings relative to literature Yet another researcher was an observer (no interviewing nor involved with literature search) coded data independently Principal investigator also coded data and met with outside observer to discuss the themes that emerged Consensus achieved, themes presented to wider research team for discussion

60 Researchers All researchers engage in either theological or spiritual reflection and value this practice 4 researchers work as chaplains and/or pastoral supervisors in health care 1 occupational therapist 1 completed joint MSW/Mdiv degree 2 family therapists and pastoral counsellors Various Christian denominations and respectful of all faith groups


62 Findings

63 Emotion & imagination: 2 main doors Transformation is outcome of reflection Professionals led to spiritual reflection primarily based on their emotional response to patient or situation, including anger, awe, sadness, joy Images brought out in session also primary as door to spiritual reflection

64 Findings (cont) Emotion and images linked, but not for all However, 70% could not identify a sacred text that described process of spiritual reflection For 30%, sacred texts were an avenue for spiritual reflection

65 Emotion Description of data –Emotion crucial part of spiritual experience and reflection for most (13/20) –Quotes (pp 7, 8)

66 Critique of Emotion Minority of health care professionals are critical of the role of emotions in spiritual reflection One has to be wary of emotions and ones emotions might have nothing to do with the client or patient with you had a session. Quotes from study

67 Images Description of data –14/20 mention that images lead to or are part of spiritual reflection –Quotes from #88, #76, #82, #79, #93 & 94 Some didnt use images –Quotes: #83, #91

68 Emotions & Images While there are some who dont use images and some who dont use emotions in spiritual reflection, the majority (11/20) use both emotion and images as their doors to spiritual reflection.

69 Sacred Texts Summary of data –14/20 cant remember or dont use Samples –6/20 named sacred text (all from Bible) –Other sources include works of art, various songs, serenity prayer, various writers, poem Footprints

70 Outcomes using Emotion, Images and Sacred Text Transformation in one form or another was the overall outcome of this use of emotion, images and sacred texts in spiritual reflection. –Quotes: #90 a music therapist #86 recreation therapist & #79, #87 SW

71 Outcomes The transformation that takes place in some ways is beyond the control of the professional and in many ways paradoxical. –letting go of control #77 SW –paradox being comfortable with discomfort #91 PT


73 Discussion of Findings

74 First purpose was to explore non- chaplaincy health care professionals use of emotion, images and sacred texts in spiritual reflection on provision of spiritual care Several significant findings in this uncharted area

75 Discussion of Findings Emphasis on emotion & images as 2 doors to spirituality and spiritual reflection These invite reflection on the sacred without the use of sacred text

76 Discussion of Findings Pargament 2007: –search for the sacred –… humans in our contemporary society experience the sacred inside and outside of religion. For those outside of religion, the experience of the sacred which is most important is not usually connected to sacred texts.

77 Discussion of Findings The experience of these health care professionals is that sacred texts are not a requirement for spiritual reflection. However, emotion and images are required for spiritual experience and reflection.

78 Discussion of Findings Focus similar to Boisen and Gerkin re Living Human Document –Gerkin used Bible, systematic theology and is own tradition to interpret experience and understanding the living human document (OConnor 1998) Traditional spiritual care professionals agree –emotion and imagination essential (OConnor & Meakes, 2008)

79 Discussion of Findings Second purpose of study was to compare previous study on Theological Reflection (spiritual care professionals) with this study on Spiritual Reflection by non-chaplaincy health care professionals

80 Theological vs Spiritual Reflection In the study on Theological Reflection: –Sacred texts are bigger than the 2 doors of emotion and images –Both studies found that the groups share the common components of emotion, images and sacred texts in reflection process

81 Opportunity? Could there be collaboration and mutual learning between chaplains and health care professionals on theological and spiritual reflection?


83 Final thoughts Cannot generalize this research to all non-chaplaincy practitioners in health care Sample too small Other areas and cultures?

84 One finding of the previous study on theological reflection is that the chaplains and other participants had gone beyond the methods and science of theological reflection that they had learned in their graduate studies into a creative and poetic imagination learned from experience, from the living human document.

85 We recommend, based on the current study, that the various health care professionals who engage in spiritual care collaborate with chaplains on further study of the role of emotions, images and sacred texts in spiritual and theological reflection.

86 Reflections & Questions We welcome your thoughts, comments…

87 Thank you!


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