Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 13

There are definitely some risks involved in the chaplain's line of work/service. After writing this self-awareness outline I fully intend to save a copy for use here at the office. - Rev. Aaron


    a. Keep agendas clear as much as possible
      Only important appointments and meetings.
    b. Manage time and active projects effectively
    c. Employ assistance when needed.
    d. Take breaks often and regularly.

    a. If not properly trained, defer
    b. Maintain a list of resources in community
    c. Refer people to resources when possible

    a. Maintain appropriate boundaries
    b. Make a clear cut plan for this
    c. Don't delay in saying something about it
    d. Try to always meet in public places or in
      a designated area which will provide a safe
      area. Always leave the door open when meeting with members of the opposite sex.
    e. If necessary, try to refer the person to a
      fellow chaplain of the same sex.

    a. Don't accept any money.

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 8

As stated in my response to a previous lesson, I started offering volunteer chaplain services at a local nursing home some weeks back. This have proven to be very exciting and has opened my eyes to what it is really involved in being a chaplain. Even in this volunteer position, there are many expectations on many different levels within the organization. In this particular environment, which is a quite large nursing and rehabilitation facility, there exist three primary groups of people to which I am exposed in my line of duty. Within each of these is a completely different and individual set of rules, expectations and ways of looking at my position.

The residents are generally very happy to see anybody from outside the facility. Most of the time, they don't come up to outsiders, although some do. Many times, there are a few who participate in the activities, while others do not. When I visit the facility (on weekends) I generally spend the first half hour or so walking around the center and seeing if anyone wants to talk, pray or read with me. I usually get a couple of the residents to talk and I always try to encourage prayer, but not forcefully. One of the first things I do when I arrive is check in with the front desk to see if anyone requested a visit from the chaplain. If they did, I try to do this right after my walkabout. Doing so allows me to see the residents who may not have been able to ask for a visit or didn't know how to ask. When I see those who requested counseling, it builds trust in showing the resident, as well as the staff, that I'm going to follow through and be there when someone needs to see me.

The staff, at this point, seem fairly indifferent toward me and my position. I get the attitude of some level competition, as though the nurses aides and support staff feel a little threatened by my position. I don't thinks it's intentional, just something that they feel maybe. The staff are also very protective of the residents. They want to make sure that the residents are going to safe around me. They don't trust me all that much, even with a good foundation built by the previous chaplains. It will take time and involvement. I try to talk to staff as well. Sometimes they'll ask questions like "How long have you been a chaplain?," "What schools did you go to?," and others. I try to answer honestly and with as much detail as I can. This helps them to know more about me and my experience and builds trust in various ways.

This group is a lot different that the others due to the nature of their positions in the organization. The administration is responsible for the care, health and well-being of the staff, the residents and all who enter the center, and that means me, too. With all that responsibility, it's very important to stick to protocol and keep your guards up to some degree. This also means that it will take a longer period of time to gain their trust. They have already gotten their initial impression from our first contact, but they will build on this based on the reports of the resident, visitors and staff. Their trust must be gained by protecting the resident safety and privacy while in the position of chaplain and by demonstrating through my work that Ican be trusted to comply with organizational policies and be reliable for the job.

The trust that will result from being consistent, reliable, and honest is a bond which must be built over time. As these relationships are being developed, it is sometimes important to keep something in mind. In many instances, there will some who have gone before you, and there will almost certainly be others who follow your steps later down the line. My reputation (the position) as chaplain was designed in the mind of these people before I ever walked through the door. People tend to see some of "what was" in what now is. When I started volunteering at the nursing home, the residents, staff and administration had been exposed to chaplains in the past. Fortunately, the individuals who held the position before did the right things and the people involved were comfortable and trusted him or her. The things I do, the things I say and the way that I handle this position, will potentially strengthen or damage the foundation upon which the next chaplain will be required to stand. This is where it become essential to be honest and reliable in all your life's work.

The Texas Family Code states that evidence in a proceeding will not be excluded on the grounds of "privileged communication" in a child abuse case. Knowing failure to report child abuse is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. ALL persons "having cause to believe" that a child is being abused or neglected are required to report the possible abuse to the Texas Department of Human Services. In 1983, Texas adopted rules of evidence which include Rule 505. Rule 505 provides that a person has a privilege to refuse to disclose and prevent another from disclosing any confidential communication by the person to the clergyman in his professional character as spiritual adviser. Consequently, it is not necessary that the communication be penitential in character to qualify for protection. Marital counseling and advice regarding other matters of a spiritual or moral concern are therefore covered by the privilege. Article 5561h permits disclosure "to medical or law enforcement personnel where the professional determines that there is a probability of imminent physical injury by the patient/client to himself or to others, or where there is a probability of immediate mental or emotional injury to the patient/client." The Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence became effective September 1, 1986, and it appears that the priest-penitent privilege will not be recognized in situations of child abuse or neglect. According to the Texas Family Code, Section 34.04, no privileges apply in a proceeding regarding child abuse or neglect. Since it is a crime to fail to report evidence of child abuse and neglect (see Texas Family Code Section 34.07), it is possible that a clergyman could be forced to reveal confidential communications in those situations involving children being abused or neglected by adults.

A couple of months ago, just after having left my office for the day, I met a young man of 17 years of age, who stopped me and called on me while walking on a nearby sidewalk heading to my home. I generally don't stop, especially in the late evening hours after sunset, but I had a stirring inside to help this man. I stop and we walked and talked. After a few minutes we arrive at my home and I invited him inside, where we spoke for about three hours about his childhood and spiritual needs, and drank many cups of coffee. He spoke of his mother who had recently developed a life-threatening illness. He said that he "had to become a Christian" in order to make her happy. He also shared with me that he did not personally know Jesus or even believe in Him, as he had spent his whole life praying and did not feel as though his prayers had been answered at all. I helped him understand that it was so much that he needed to find Jesus, but that he needed to find himself. He cried and we spoke more, and he cried more. He shared many of the things that had hurt him along his path and we discussed some of the things he could do to begin to see some changes in these areas. He told me that he would probably be in jail the next day because he has violated his probation rules. I gave my number and invited him to call or write if he needed anything. I haven't heard from him since, but that night, I felt that he just needed somebody to listen to him, and that's exactly what I offered. I think tonight, I will set aside some extra time to pray for him, Won't you all do the same?

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 16

In my ministry, I see all kinds of people from all walks of life. As such, several of these I see on a more or less regular basis. One of them in particular, Danette, seems to be more needing of my counsel and prayer. Danette suffers from a life-long mental illness that makes her feel depressed and become angry and uncontrollable at random. She find it very difficult to live a happy life and I pray for her often. On top of this, she experienced a fall several years ago which today causes her severe pain and back problems.

I would like to develop a soul-frienship with Danette, because I think that this type of friendship would benefit her greatly. I can develop this relationship by asking her to join in on the prayers and possibly my spending a little more time with her and by showing her holiness and prayer faith through my actions.

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 10

This is my personal policy on touch in ministry:
1. Whether the counselee has come to you, or you are approaching them, be respectful of personal space and physical boundaries.

2. NEVER touch someone else inappropriately or unexpectedly except in emergencies. You may offer to touch or invite others to touch, such as by extending your hand or arm, but never actually initiate the physical touching. Instead allow the person to choose whether or not they will meet you in touch.

3. If someone expresses discomfort from touch, stop the touching.

4. Always ask if it's okay to hold hands or hug or shake hands. Better safe than sorry.  Most people, I find, will not mind and will have a lot of respect for you since you actually asked.

5. Always offer to touch the person for prayer and healing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Completion of Master of Chaplaincy

What Did I Learn?

I learned where one ministers, such as in businesses and in the community, schools, colleges, and that some large employers have begun to find value in having access to a chaplain.  Even tobacco companies that murder thousands of people a year with their disgusting products hire chaplains.  In-house chaplains may have less efficacy because of their perceived connection to the employer.

I learned that successful business chaplaincy will include: confidentiality; regular visits; prompt return of all calls; not to take money in most capacities, and that prayer is a priority. 

The need for chaplains from a variety of backgrounds and those with ecumenical ministry experience is great. In almost every arena a chaplain will provide spiritual counsel as needed; leading worship services; coordinating services for those of other faith groups; leading/coordinating studies related to faith; providing information to people on the local services, housing, and other support systems; providing counsel on religious matters to the people and participating in important ceremonies to include prayers.

A good chaplain will have experience in grief/counseling or seek to obtain that experience.

Ministering to children and teens includes presence and counsel. One key principle is found in the New Testament taught by Jesus Christ: "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20, NKJV). The location or building is not as important as the people gathered in the presence of God.

As a listener described in lesson 9, I use NLP and hypnotherapy techniques to counsel individuals. 

I learned in lesson 10 about healing touch and the importance of touch in therapy, in worship, in life.  It should also be remembered that there are modern health and cultural considerations to touching people. Sometimes the best thing is for the chaplain to say, "I'm Chaplain Jane Doe. How can I help you?" Chaplains represent the Divine to people. It is often in prayer that our greatest comfort can be extended and Anointing Prayer is often the most comfortable.  It is not a bad idea to carry a small bottle of anointing oil and know that God is the source of healing.

In lesson 11 I learned that chaplains in many settings often face the task of comforting those in grief and I need to be prepared to deal with grief.  People need someone with a strong emotional, mental, and spiritual foundation to come along and give assurance that God is there.  Grief is simply the normal human emotional response to loss. It is not easy to grieve.   Our role as ministers is to help people to go through the process of grief in a healthy way.

My attitude and belief about death and loss are vital as they will come across to the person I am ministering to and confidence in God must come alongside the comfort we offer to those suffering in grief. (as an atheist…I will develop how to deal with this concept over time.)  In lesson 12 I learned about counseling for the troubled.   I apply hypnotherapy, NLP and other processes in my counseling for the troubled already.   I learned about thinking, feeling then acting and teaching people new skills.  In lesson 13 I learned about traps to avoid about myself, my limitations, and others.  In lesson 14 I learned about different ceremonies and the importance of establishing beliefs and criteria with respect to those ceremonies. In less 15 I learned that worship matters; – a time when God and people come together.  My job is to be able to assist with worship. It is my job to create a sacred space, to remove barriers to worship.

In lesson 16 learned about a "soul friend" and that as a chaplain I can be a soul friend for someone who needs one.  "It is the Divine Spirit of God working through your life. As mentioned in an earlier lesson, there is a mark upon those called to the ministry."   While I do not necessarily I am divining rod of the Divine…I believe that my appreciation of someone's faith and desire to improve their faith is helpful to them.  In lesson 17 I learned about accountability.   As a former lawyer and now minister/hypnotherapist, I completely accept the need to be accountable in all areas, to me, my family, a mentor, organizations, etc. including God if I were to so believe in him.  In lesson 18 I learned about burn-out.  I burned out as a lawyer…I have learned not to burn out as a hypnotherapist/NLP practitioner.  In chapter 19, I learned about the Chaplains' toolbox.   I have already started gathering information, supplies, necessities to minister to those who need a minister.   Again, I am an atheist, but I also hold a degree in Jewish Studies, know Hebrew, have been to the holy sites of Israel.   I have worked with others' religion and supported their religious beliefs.

What Helped Me

What helped me was the simplicity of the course material.  Being a minister really is simple in terms of what is necessary.  I think having people skills is the most important thing and that's what this program demonstrated.  Being present with people is simple.   A willingness to lend a hand is simple.   Following simple guidelines is important.   Again, what helped me was the simplicity of this course.  It is like a checklist of what I need to do.  

What I hope I will accomplish as a result of taking this course.

I hope to receive a certificate toward becoming a chaplain.    I want to help people and make a living do it.  I have been a lawyer, a soldier, a first aid provider, hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner.  I have always been in the helping business.    I want to let people know that I take their religious beliefs seriously and that I can help them strengthen their faith if their faith will help them heal.  While I may be an atheist, I know that religion gives people strength.   I am more educated in religion that most religious people I know, so I can teach it even if I am not a firm believer.

Please confirm you received this email.

Thank you.

Christopher Bartow

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Discussion - Lesson 12

Counseling to the troubled:

A resource that I highly recommend can be found in a few free books that are in the following links.  They are based on NLP and are immeasurably helpful to me in my ministry and practice.   They are entirely content based and can be incorporated into a ministry without worrying about dogma or belief systems.   I have helped people overcome drugs, anger, sadness, depression.   I feel like I have found the ultimate resources that can help free people to experience spirit more freely.

One is called:

Interviewing and Counseling Skills: An NLP Perspective


Another is:

About Addictions: Notes from Psychology, Neuroscience and NLP


Another is:

Transforming Futures: The Brooklyn Program Facilitators ManualSecond Edition.