Pastoral Care Book Finally Finished

It has been a slow process. People keep asking when it will be done.

Principles of Clinical Pastoral Care in the Hospital and the Community.  Vol. 1          by Robert H. Munson and Celia P. Munson.  2016.

I serve as the administrator of a counseling center in the Philippines, and my wife Celia is a Clinical Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor. But I find writing on missions or anthropological subjects much easier. After about four years it is finally done. Just final proofing and then it will go up for publishing. It is more for the Philippine context but can be of use elsewhere. The primary focus is for Bible Schools in classes such as “Intro to Pastoral Care and Counseling” or “Clinical Pastoral Orientation.”

No Not Really Me… But It Could Be

Volume 2 is less than half done… but prayerfully it will take less than 4 more years.

Books and Things

The following is the Preface to the book


The primary purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to pastoral care, so that it can be practiced both in the community and the clinical settings. The intended reader is one involved in religious ministry (either professional or lay ministry) with limited background in pastoral care and counseling. Volume 2 continues what is covered in Volume 1 but more specifically to prepare the individual for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). This book may be used in conjunction with an “Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling” or a “Clinical Pastoral Orientation (CPO)” class. The latter is a more basic class in pastoral care than CPE but utilizes the training methodology of CPE. It is hoped that the book would be found beneficial to a wide variety of readers, regardless of their ministerial or educational situations.

Since pastoral care was founded within the Christian church, it is hardly surprising that Christian doctrine is interwoven into the guiding principles. That being said, it is hoped that the book will be of benefit to a wide variety of people of diverse faith traditions. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. Pastoral Care, despite its Christian roots, is today commonly viewed as Interfaith. Individuals from many different religions, and even those who may not be part of what is commonly thought of as a religion, may be involved in ministry utilizing many of the tools of pastoral care.

  2. Christian pastoral care workers will certainly be dealing with clients from a wide variety of faiths (including non-faith). The pastoral care provider will regularly be dealing with, and providing care for, clients outside of his/her own faith community. As such, it is useful to learn language, principles, and methods that cross religious lines.

Nevertheless, a pastoral care provider does draw strength and perspective from her own beliefs and faith perspective. In line with that, the writers of this book do, at times, utilize their own perspectives as well. This will be most evident in the theological section where certain aspects of Christian theology are emphasized as they relate to pastoral care.

It is further presumed that the pastoral care provider is finite and flawed. He (this book will go back and forth between “he,” “she,” and gender neutral pronouns) is finite because he has limited knowledge, skill, time, and understanding. He is flawed in that he is likely dealing with personal problems similar or even greater than those he is caring for. The fact that the care provider is finite and flawed is not bad – it means he is human. As a human, he has insights and shared experience that can be beneficial to the healing process. It is comforting to most people to know that all people have struggles. The pastoral care provider should not pretend to have no problems. The problems, if properly acknowledged, can assist. In fact, the care provider may find healing in working with help-seekers.


Hiding in Church

I have been working on CPE (clinical pastoral education) training for the last few months. It is a challenge for me. I enjoy academics, teaching, organizing, strategizing, and blogging. But to walk up to a stranger (in a hospital or anywhere else) really goes against my temperament. But I want to grow in this area. 

So I go to the hospital. Most of the patients there have as their first language Ilocano, Kankana-ey, or Ibaloi. I speak English and some Tagalog. Working in the academic and professional settings of Baguio City, Philippines, English is more than adequate, and any Tagalog I know just adds another dimension. But in the provincial hospital I am at, it is different. In the end, a lot of my conversations with the patients ends up as a mutually uncomfortable “Taglish” (mix of English and Tagalog). I would like to say that my presence is welcome, but I don’t really know. Filipinos are normally exceptionally gracious, so I generally feel welcomed enough.

But as an introverted person feeling inadequate due to my language inadequacies, I have the desire to step away from what I am doing periodically. My way of stepping away has been to go to the hospital chapel and sit down. I am not sure why I chose that spot. I suppose it is because it is quiet. It is also possible that the structure and symbols of the chapel make me feel refreshed… but I doubt that is why. Most of the symbols and images are for a different religious tradition than my own.

I suppose, on further analysis, I would stay at the chapel because I felt I needed a place that was quiet where I felt that I “belonged.” As a foreigner with inadequate language skills working as a chaplain with limited social skills, I feel like I don’t belong in the hospital. Maybe, however, the key point is that as a chaplain, I feel that the chapel is the one place in the hospital that I do belong (there is no chaplain office at this hospital).

Once I came to that realization, I made an adjustment. I moved out of the chapel and into the hallways of the hospital. Unlike many Filipino hospitals, this one has lots of seating. I still recharge my introversion battery, but I do it with the people rather than cloistered away from them.

I feel that I am not alone in this. A lot of Christians have been conditioned to feel uncomfortable anywhere but in church. Some of this was deliberate programming from others. When believers enters a church they are often barraged with all sorts of activities to ensure that they don’t “backslide into the world.” Eventually, many feel out of place anywhere except their own house and church. Their friends are at church, their ministry is at (and in) church. They, obviously, leave church but feel awkward, out of place, strangers. They look forward to minimizing these uncomfortable moments.

I do like the idea of church as a refuge (I have posted on that as well). But I believe it should ideally be a refuge for the hurting soul not from the world. The world CAN be a scary place (sadly, so can church) but hiding in church can make it seem even more scary.