Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Facial Expressions and the Chaplain

My goal on the topic of body language has been to get the facts and present those that are most pertinent to the hospice chaplain.  Today, I will present a topic of great interest to successful interaction with patients and their families.  There are few things that irk me more when I am with a patient that is in the throes of an illness that leaves the patient with an odor or some physical deformity and someone comes into the room and  makes a facial expression of horror or some such thing.  The chaplain must not surrender pastoral care decorum to odors or deformities.  Facial expressions speak volumes to the patient and to their families.  There are 6 emotional facial expressions.  Can you list them?  I will assist you by providing a letter or two or three for each one.  In coming articles I will address the components of facial expressions.  For now, we just want to identify the expressions that we use, as well as, those of patients.


H- - p - - - - s
S - - - - - -
F - - -
D - - g - - t
S - - - r - - e
A - - - - r


A chaplain must be proficient in conveying several vital cues through facial expression:

  • Empathy
  • Interested listening
  • Hopefulness
  • Affirmation
  • Acceptance
  • Concern
  • Compassion
  • What other facial expressions can you think of? 
    In future articles we will examine practical tips on how to express these vital emotions.

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