Collaboration between hospital social work and pastoral care to help families cope with serious illness and grief

Psychiatr Serv. 1997 Dec;48(12):1549-52. doi: 10.1176/ps.48.12.1549.


The authors describe an educational program for hospital chaplains based on a partnership between pastoral care and social work in a teaching hospital. The goal of the program is to train chaplains to use social work principles to maximize families' capacity to negotiate a complex health care system, to solve problems in a health crisis, and to participate constructively on the health care team. Building on the two disciplines' shared values in person-centered, process-oriented approaches to care, the program introduces chaplain trainees to social work concepts of crisis intervention and family systems theory that they can apply in their interactions with families in their hospital and congregational practice. The approach taught in the program is illustrated in a case vignette describing a chaplain trainee's work with the family of a child treated for severe burns.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aftercare
  • Burns / psychology
  • Burns / rehabilitation
  • Burns / therapy
  • Chaplaincy Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Child
  • Clergy
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Family / psychology*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Interdepartmental Relations*
  • Male
  • New York City
  • Pastoral Care / education*
  • Pastoral Care / organization & administration
  • Social Work Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Systems Theory