Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Keys to resilient practice in contemporary chaplaincy
by Kruger, Tyler Lee, D.Min., Lancaster Theological Seminary, 2010, 83; 3416822
Abstract (Summary)

How do chaplains live with resilience when they often work in a physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleting environment? This study explores such questions as: are there specific self-care practices which the professional can incorporate into his or her daily life that will help prevent burnout and compassion fatigue, or reduce the impact of secondary traumatic stress? How does one continue to function in ministry while grieving a personal or professional loss? This research sought answers to these questions, with the hope of enriching the lives of those who are called to serve. The focus is on hospital and hospice chaplains, although the principles may apply to parish ministry and other health-care providers.

This study employed three methods of research: (1) a review of the limited but growing literature available on this relatively new topic, (2) personal interviews with professional chaplains, a former resident, department administrator, CPE supervisor and other experts in the fields of resilience, trauma, and compassion fatigue, and (3) an online survey about chaplains and resilience, to which three hundred and four responded.

The data supported several conclusions: (1) Chaplains are doing remarkably well in their attempts to live with resilience, and yet be honest about their shortcomings. (2) They have developed a host of ways to cope with stress, deal with loss, and build a network of support for themselves. (3) Many were unaware of the emotional dangers associated with this line of work.

This study concludes with several recommendations: (1) Take the Life Stress Test and Quality of Work Satisfaction annually as part of one's yearly review and evaluation. (2) Develop a simple self-care plan "Living with Resilience Action Plan" termed L-Wrap that will assist chaplains in the intentional development of resilience practices/thriving strategies that nurture the body, mind and spirit. (3) Develop and implement group rituals around grief and celebration—and incorporate these into the daily life of the department.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Epperly, Bruce
School: Lancaster Theological Seminary
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 71/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pastoral Counseling, Theology, Spirituality
Keywords: Chaplaincy, Resilience, Work satisfaction
Publication Number: 3416822
ISBN: 978-1-124-11120-9
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