7 - Canadian Association for Spiritual Care Web view Faith Affirmation – we encourage beliefs...

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Transcript of 7 - Canadian Association for Spiritual Care Web view Faith Affirmation – we encourage beliefs...



Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/

Association canadienne de soins spirituels

Scope of Practice

for Spiritual Care and Counselling Specialists

October 2013


A profession’s scope of practice encompasses the activities its practitioners are educated and authorized to perform. The overall scope of practice for the profession sets the outer limits of practice for all practitioners. The actual scope of practice of individual practitioners is influenced by the settings in which they practice, the requirements of the employer and the needs of their patients or clients.

For any given profession there are some procedures, actions, and processes that overlap with the activities of others. For example, firefighters extinguish blazes as part of their scope of practice. They receive extensive training and employ specilized equipment and techniques which qualify them to fight fires. Fires take place in different contexts – houses, forests, warehouses filled with chemicals, etc. Each fire poses unique challenges and the appropriate application of skill and technique can only be learned through experience. Not all flames, though, require a trained firefighter. For example, even a six-year-old can blow out a candle on a birthday cake.

Spiritual care, like fire-fighting, can be more or less complex depending on the variables in play. The more complex the situation, the more skilled the practitioner needs to be in order to ensure public safety. No scope of practice statement can cover all situations or all factors. This document speaks to and about the nation’s leaders in this field, the members of the Canadian Asscoiation for Spiritual Care/Association canadienne de soins spiritueles (CASC/ACSS).

At the same time, this scope of practice statement has implications for others who practice spiritual care, especially in the public arena. Its standards and processes need to function as the base from which governing bodies prepare standards of practice, educational institutions prepare curricula, and employers prepare job descriptions.

Consumers, too, need at least a general understanding of scope of practice to know who is qualified to provide different kinds of services. Key to this differentiation of services and providers is the distinction between religios care and spiritual care.

The specific competencies of CASC/ACSS are based upon the standards established by the Spiritual Care Collaborative, an international group whose members cover the full theological, religious and spiritual spectrum. Any agency or institution which fails to honour the normative nature of a scope of practice such as this one will be exposing itself to significant risk by allowing for the unsafe practice of spiritual care and counselling.

Spirituality, like fire, can be of great benefit but is harmful if not handled properly. Just as throwing water on a grease fire will make a bad siuation worse, relying on poorly understood generalized approaches will result in damage to vulnerable people. Agencies and institutions need to provide their staff, physicians and volunteers with training in screening for spiritual distress in its various manifestations . Only then will there be a reasonable level of confidence that appropriate referrals for thorough assessment and skilled application of interventions will produce quality and timely spiritual care and counsel.

Spiritual Care and Counselling Specialists

CASC/ACSS Spiritual Care and Counselling Specialists (SCCS) are clinical practitioners who help people draw upon their existing and chosen spiritual, religious and cultural resources for direction, strength, wisdom and healing as they journey through life’s stages.. They are educated at master’s and doctoral levels and have a minimum of 2,500 hours in post graduate clinical training in order to qualify for certification as professionals who are competent to integrate the development of clinical skills with knowledge of self and knowledge of theological, spiritual, philosophical, psychological and cultural frameworks.

Scope of Practice Statement

Spiritual Care and Counselling Specialists seek to improve the quality of life for individuals and groups experiencing spiritual, moral and existential distress related to changes in health, maturation, ability, and life circumstances. They utilize a holistic, relational approach to assess the nature and extent of the concerns; collaboratively develop a plan of care; provide therapeutic interventions to promote, maintain, and restore health and/or palliate illness and injury; and evaluate the implementation of the plan of care to ensure its efficacy and adequacy.

Context of Care

Spirituality in the early 21st century may at times appear to be dominated and caught between two extremes. We have on the one side those convinced of and hoping to celebrate a modern secularism where the old dogmas of religion will no longer oppress the rational thinkers of the day who are lifting away centuries of superstition. On the other, there are some strongly lamenting the drift from religion to raw materialism, who mourn the break up of family, society and morality, and urge their neighbours to return to God and adhere to the sacred texts of old as the only sure way forward. Most people, however, are at neither of these extremes.

Research and surveys show several things happening at once in the Western world . There is a decline in regular church going yet an increase in peoples’ willingness to talk about spiritual things There is a new confidence in the rights of small faith and belief communities and other minority groups to ‘be themselves’ and to expect to be treated as respectfully as other larger and longer established groups. There is also a growing acceptance of humanistic philosophy and values, witnessed by the increasing number of secular weddings and funerals – which again is balanced by increased interest in traditional spiritual exercises such as yoga and meditation, or spirituality of a broad and less definable type.Many find themselves between the religious certainties of a bygone age and the cold rationality of the opposite extreme. They have values and beliefs but they do not find it easy to say exactly where they belong.

Purpose and Role of Spiritual Care

The purpose of spiritual care and counselling is to support others by focusing primarily although not exclusively, on their spiritual practices. This support fosters healthy development in accordance with each one’s unique worldview and significant concerns. It assists in finding contextual and ultimate meaning in life. Spiritual care is provided in a variety of institutional settings including health care, military, corrections, education and other multi-faith, religious and secular communities as well as private practice settings. In most institutions the role of a spiritual care practitioner includes supportive, caring staff/colleague consultation in addition to client care.

Effective spiritual care has therapeutic outcomes insofar as its goal is for spiritual health and wholeness. Spiritual Care and Counselling Specialists may or may not provide therapy defined as facilitating cures or solutions to pathologies. Spiritual care seeks to promote spiritual well-being in the midst of the human condition with all of its challenges, crises, illness, suffering, pain and grief. As a result of effective spiritual care interventions, symptoms of spiritual distress and suffering may be transcended, transformed or alleviated and healing is facilitated. In addition, spiritual care is often provided at times of celebration and joy where there is no spiritual distress, as in the birth of a child or a wedding ceremony. Spiritual Care practitioners are a therapeutic presence. They witness experience and minister to others by providing sacred space and ritual in the ordinary and profound moments of life and death. This role fills a universal human need and has existed in various forms and nomenclature throughout history in all cultures. A spiritual care practitioner is understood symbolically as one who walks alongside others in times of joy or sorrow and stands between what is known and the mystery of the unknown.

Therapeutic Interventions and Functions

· Relational Approach

SCCSs operate with a person/family-centered approach to assessment and care that sensitively encounters the other and engages them in their healing process. In addition to providing a context within which core beliefs, values and concerns can be shared, the SCCSs respectful acknowledgement of the other typically has an intrinsic therapeutic value by affirming their basic worth and dignity as a human being.

· Spiritual Assessment

SCCSs conduct assessments that evaluate the emotional and spiritual needs of persons who voluntarily seek care. Such assessments include identifying the care-seeker’s sources of spiritual strength, hope, coping methods, needs, risks and wellness goals by using communication strategies that include empathic listening and reflection i.e. that demonstrate authentic compassion and empathy. The assessment requires both a non-judgmental validation of the client’s emotional and spiritual experience and an appreciation of the client’s world view informed by historical, theological, philosophical, socio-cultural and psychological understandings of human development and transition.

· Collaborative Care Planning

SCCSs seek to assist the client/family to identify and articulate personalized goals and objectives that not only are appropriate to the situation but complement and are integrated with the inter-professional care plan. The SCCS ensures planned int