Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The 3 Most Important Needs of a Chaplain in Crisis

When a Chaplain needs help… There are times when a Chaplain needs emotional assistance. The reasons vary from their own grief at the loss of a loved one to burnout. It is essential that the Spiritual Care Manager or whatever your title might be is aware of the resources to give the Chaplain the support he or she needs. Here are the three most important needs of a Chaplain who is in crisis: 1. Your undivided attention and support. In the highly complex world of hospice care the manager must express compassion and understanding. Yes, it is a corporate world and not a religious institution we are working with. Patients need to be seen, compliance is always breathing down our backs, and productivity screams for fulfillment. With all of that said, your Chaplain needs your support. If a PRN Chaplain is not available and it appears the Chaplain will be on PTO for a few days, see the patients yourself. It will be a refreshing change of pace. Your Chaplain will never forget your help. 2. Keep it confidential. The only people that need to know that the Chaplain is engaged in EAP (if that is the route the Chaplain has chosen) is the Benefits Specialist and yourself. The outcome of the EAP is none of our business. Protecting the Chaplain’s privacy is. 3. Stay in contact with the Chaplain when he or she returns to work. An email or phone call of support does a world of good. We all remember the adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is true when it comes to self-care. Chaplains are the worst at following our own advice. Perhaps an in-service like what follows would help: Christy Matta, M.A., writes with clarity about stress reduction and stress management. Her insights on the 5 Signs of Emotional Exhaustion at Work caught my eye. The work of the hospice Chaplain is heavily emotional. A Chaplain that does not practice self-care is a sitting duck for emotional exhaustion. Chaplains MUST engage in self-care or fall prey to a potentially career ending crash. Matta’s article can be found here: http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=48310&cn=117 Her assertions about emotional exhaustion arrest our attention: o Negative Feelings: Frustration and irritation at work are common when you're emotionally exhausted. Your frustration might be focused on parts of the job, coworkers behavior, or job politics and bureaucracy. o Feeling Pressured and Out of Time: When we're emotionally exhausted we don't have the resources to handle the pressures of the job. You might find yourself feeling pressure to succeed, without time to finish your work or do a good job or without time to plan for your day and proactively deal with work demands. o Negative Thoughts: Our thoughts are closely linked to our feelings. When we're feeling bad, we're also often thinking negative thoughts. Thinking "I'm alone," having overly judgmental thoughts towards your co-workers or the organization or thinking harsh thoughts about yourself are all common signs of emotional exhaustion. Thoughts that "I shouldn't have to deal with this" "this is unfair" or "my coworkers/supervisors/management are incompetent" are judgmental thoughts that might be a sign of emotional exhaustion. o Strained Relationships: Feelings of isolation and negative thoughts about coworkers, supervisors and administrators can leave you with strained relationships at work, adding to feeling isolated and unappreciated. o Counterproductive Work Behaviors: When you're emotionally exhausted, you may feel drained or depleted and find that you are more emotional at work. When you're emotionally exhausted, you may lose the ability or desire to resist temptation. As a result, you may end up acting in ways you otherwise wouldn't. Do you find yourself acting in ways that undermine your colleagues or the company for which you work? Examples might include anything from stealing, or fraudulent behavior to purposeful tardiness and avoiding safety measures. Steps to healthy self-care: 1. Recognize you are in the throes of emotional exhaustion. 2. Talk to someone you trust about it. 3. Make any adjustments you can. 4. Take a few days off. 5. Evaluate how you spend your off hours. 6. Do something that gets your mind off of work. 7. Feed your spirit. 8. Talk to someone you trust. (not a repetition, just an emphasis) 9. Get your body moving. 10. Learn to relax. Most Chaplains don’t know how to do this well at all. Blessings, Chaplain friends. My model for ministry is Jesus Christ. He said to his weary disciples in Mark 6:31, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” When your work is such that you meet yourself coming and going, it is time to rest and to eat. For the glory of God and the inner healing of man …blessings upon you.

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