Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lesson 13 ~ Chaplaincy Course ~ Traps to Avoid

Chaplaincy Studies

Lesson 13 ~ Traps to Avoid ~ Essay

Rev. Trent Murman, OSM, OSF

Develop a plan of self-awareness and write it out. How will you/do you avoid the traps common to the chaplain ministry?  Every person in the professional community has to be clearly mindful of sinister traps which may lay in wait, whether it be in a doctor's office, a school guidance counselor's office, a gym teachers office or within our private office when counseling or discussing matters with not only the opposite sex but now days even the same sex.  If there is any reservation in your mind be on the defensive.  You never know what evil may be festering in your visitor's mind.  In our profession it is very wise to be aware of these situations which may arise.  When I visit a female in the hospital, I always have or request a female to accompany me to the patient's room and stay with me until I can get a good feel of the mindset of the person I am visiting and if I am requested to have a private conversation regarding sins, etc. I will ask the employee to remain outside the patient's room, with the door open.  This helps to deter any ill thoughts the female patient may have.  If I am counseling persons of the opposite sex especially if it is a younger teenager….during the initial phone interview I ask the teen if she would mind a parent or guardian being with us…if she says yes, this should throw up a red flag and immediately put you on your defensive side.  You should then ask if she would mind if your administrative secretary or another female of your choice be present (everyone in the churches employment or volunteers are sworn to confidentiality).  This also deters ill thoughts.  If the meeting/counseling is male to male….usually this doesn't create a problem.  However, with the frequency of clergy being falsely accused of misconduct I have instituted that the office door remain open and I assure the visitor everything regarding our meeting will be kept confidential.  For new clergy I would suggest that all meetings be "open door" until they feel comfortable with their meetings.  It is a must that we as professionals hold ourselves to the highest of moral standings and keep our personal lives personal and professional lives completely professional.  Just be careful!!

Go In Peace

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chaplaincy Studies lesson 17

1. One of the ways that I am held accountable in ministry is by my spouse. She makes sure that I do what I'm supposed to do.
2. At this point I don't have a mentor, however I had thought about asking the pastor at our church if he'd been willing to be a mentor to someone like me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lesson 11 ~ Counseling someone in grief

Chaplaincy Studies

Lesson 11 ~ Counseling someone in grief  ~ Essay

By: Rev. Trent Murman


I remember one time when the mother of a service man was brought into her place of business' office and was told her son had just been killed while serving his country in the Iraq war.  The woman looked stunned and most like catatonic in appearance.  Helping her sit down, I sat beside her and gently took her hand in mine, it was cold, I could feel my hands warming up hers as it rested between both of my hands.  There was no crying.  She said she just couldn't.  She spoke of her son who had just graduated high school, he was a star football player she went on, so healthy, so kind to everyone and full of life.  Still no tears.  She looked at me with sad puppy dog eyes and just asked "WHY?".  I simply said to her "I don't know…I just don't know".  Then she simply said "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I fear no evil…my God he comforts me"….then it was like the flood gates opened up.  She wept for her son.  I just sat beside her she began squeezing my hand harder and harder, I didn't move…I realized she needed this and I was there for her.  She then asked me to say a Hail Mary with her…we said three.  I have been with a few others in my time and I have learned more than one thing…but I think the most important thing was to be empathetic and not to say "I know how you feel" because most of the time we don't know and everyone tends to grieve in their own way and in their own time.  Once again just listening was the greatest tool I could have used. 

Go In Peace

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lesson 10 ~ Chaplaincy Studies

Chaplaincy Studies

Lesson 10 ~ The Listener ~ The Healing Touch Essay

By:  Rev. Trent


Develop a personal policy on what you believe appropriate touch is.

Policy ~ Appropriate Touch


Office Visitations

The office door is to remain open if a female is being counseled.  The office staff is sworn to secrecy at the time of employment, meaning if anything is overheard…nothing is to be repeated.  The open door is for the protection of the clergy.  A holding of hands may appropriate for consoling, a light touch as in prayer may be done.  In the case of male or females seeking counseling the minister must evaluate the situation and let his conscience be his guide.  Be careful what you may portray as being within your appropriate boundaries…others may perceive as inappropriate touching.  Refrain from "hugging".

Hospital/Home Visitations

Usually in these instances there will be other family members present.  If the person you are visiting requests a private session with you, once again be careful.  You may sit on a chair at the bedside, never on the bed.  You may hold the hand.  If Absolution, Last Rites or Rites of Passage are to be administered ask one of the family members to come  into the room with you.  This is appropriate for verification to the rest of the family as being completed.  If more than one family member wishes to be present it is okay.  However, Absolution and Last Confessions are to remain private between clergy and the person. 

Social Gatherings

You must remain professional, even out of your collar.  Handshaking is most appropriate.  A slight pat on the shoulder or back as in "well done" may be appropriate.  The length of the "touch" must be monitored by that little voice inside that may say "ok now move your hand away".  You must be aware not only of your actions but others that may be watching you and what they might perceive as "inappropriate touching". 


Touching is a very sensitive area.  Remember most guidelines and of course that little voice inside of you is your best monitor.  If you are uncomfortable or you feel the person is uncomfortable with your "touch" then STOP or DON'T START.

Go In Peace

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chaplaincy Studies

Lesson 9 ~ The Listener

By:  Rev. Trent


Write a short paragraph on what you have learned about active listening skills and its value to your ministry.   Listening has always been not only the road to knowledge, but a great way of showing concern to your fellow human being.  I remember many times, especially with youngsters/teens when they would stop in just to say hello and wanted to chat the beginning sentence of phrase was usually "… one will listen to me".  My reply to them would be in a fatherly form….tell me what's on your mind.  They would go on about how older brothers or sisters or parents just don't seem to have the time to listen and how they feel unwanted or ignored.  I always try to impress on them they are all very much wanted and needed and are very important to everyone.  Then I sit and listen.  Some just want to say hello and some may really have something bothering them deeply.  I try not to show that I may be in a hurry or need to be somewhere (there are no clocks in my office except for a clock on the computer…I do not wear a watch so this doesn't give me the opportunity to keep looking at it.  I try to give them, no matter who it is, my undivided attention.  I always remember some people are or can be very troubled about something not only teens.  I usually have certain times for office hours and I do try to keep to that schedule…including one day out of the week for evening hours, by appointment.  I also remind them everything said between us is just that…between us and is sacred.  This seems to put everyone who comes to me more at ease.  Listening can be the greatest tool and very valuable for future conversations.  I also try not to take hand written notes, these can be seen by others and often misunderstood if the whole conversation is not there, because they are only getting bits and pieces.  Listening can be and is the most powerful tool we may have.