Often, we run into questions or misconceptions about how we can help you. Here are some ‘myths and facts’ about spiritual care providers (SCPs):
Myth: SCPs are not needed if a social worker is involved.
Fact: While SCPs and social workers have similarities, each discipline has its own scope of practice for psycho-social-spiritual work.
Myth: SCPs are the same as ministers and priests and can perform the same rites and duties.
Fact: SCPs are theologically and clinically trained clergy or lay persons who provide spiritual care to all persons without displacing religious leaders.
Myth: SCPs are fully qualified because of their previous work in a church.
Fact: SCPs require graduate theological education, faith group endorsement and two years of clinical pastoral education.
Myth: SCPs should only be contacted when clients have obvious or stated religious needs or interests.
Fact: SCPs can be contacted when clients are struggling to find relief from physical symptoms or feelings of distress, looking for hope or meaning in the midst of illness, and/or wanting religious support.
Myth: SCPs should only be referred to clients when death is imminent.
Fact: SCPs provide spiritual support through all phases of palliative and end-of-life care.
Myth: SCPs do not need or use formal assessment tools.
Fact: SCPs assess the spiritual needs of clients in various ways, including formal assessment tools.
Myth: SCPs work on their own and not with the team of care providers.
Fact: SCPs collaborate with the inter-professional team to support client and family-centred care.
Myth: SCPs try to change what clients believe by preaching to or trying to convert them.
Fact: SCPs respect the unique personal journey of each client’s faith and spirituality.
Myth: SCPs belong to all faiths or are not a part of any faith.
Fact: SCPs maintain endorsement by, and good standing with, a recognized faith group.
Myth: SCPs must keep everything that they are told confidential, like in a confession.
Fact: SCPs abide by civil law with regard to confidentiality and communicate with the inter-professional team to convey information that is necessary for the provision of client and family-centred care.
With thanks to members of the Waterloo-Wellington Hospital Palliative Care Team and Garth Wittich, Spiritual Care Provider