Monday, June 29, 2015

The Issues of Religious Countertransference

Religious countertransference is something a Chaplain needs to be aware of particularly if he or she is coming into hospice Chaplaincy from a church pastor setting wherein the church pastor was the chief orator of church doctrine. The process of grasping the nature of chaplaincy is one some former church pastors struggle with. With that stated, let’s do the following… What follows is a brief description of what religious countertransference looks like and how it will affect the Chaplain. 1. Religious countertransference refers to the Chaplain’s emotional responses toward a patient’s religious language, beliefs, practices, rituals, or community that diminish the effectiveness of spiritual care. (Based on Griffith, 2006). 2. Religious countertransference arises when a Chaplain begins reacting to a patient’s religious expressions as though nothing more need be known about the patient as a person. Further, this reaction leads to an attempt to convince, convert, evangelize, or proselytize the patient to save him or her according to the Chaplain’s belief system. Religious countertransference obstructs the patient-Chaplain relationship in at least two ways: 1. Religious countertransference obstructs and obscures spiritual care options and demeans the calling of the Chaplain. 2. The most damaging effect religious countertransference has on the Chaplain is that the Chaplain becomes emotionally distant and disinterested in the spiritual needs of the patient. Patients need to feel that they are heard and need to feel that they may speak freely about their religious faith (whatever it may be). This fact is never more evident than when they are with their Chaplain. If a Chaplain has as an agenda item to get the person convinced to his way of religion, then the whole Chaplain-patient relationships is wounded. How do the above inform your chaplaincy?

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