for providers

It is solely by virtue of his power to relate that man is able to live in the spirit. 
                       Martin Buber, I and Thou
We propose that spiritual problems are rooted in the quality and character of relationships and the choices made in the context of them. Relationships occur in three spheres – with oneself (intra-personal), with others (inter-personal), and with the transcendent (supra-personal). The act of forming, maintaining, and growing relationships is of fundamental importance in a person’s life.
A person is an integrated being – body, mind and spirit. Each sphere impacts the other. Broken relationships cause problems that may manifest as a multitude of symptoms. Physicians are accustomed to asking about “stressors” (divorce, a move, a death in the family) and feelings (depressed or anxious mood), but they don’t have a language or a foundation to address the relational – and we would argue – spiritual problems that may lay behind those stressors and feelings.

When patients experience a somatic problem (e.g. heart failure), it may impact how they are feeling (they may get depressed), and cause a breakdown in their relationships (anger, fear, loneliness). In the same way, when a person’s intra-personal, inter-personal or supra-personal relationships are under strain, not in order or dysfunctional, a person becomes distressed and may experience emotional or somatic symptoms. For example, a patient’s sad or anxious mood and abdominal cramps may be the symptom of an underlying spiritual problem such as bitterness towards an employee, a family member or God secondary to being wronged.

The Spiritual Review of Systems is a series of questions meant to facilitate addressing spiritual problems. The Spiritual Problems and Strengths highlights common spiritual problems with coinciding questions that may unearth those problems. Encouraging and fostering the spiritual virtues could be considered therapy for the spiritual problems.

 Spiritual Review of Systems Questions (pdf)

Spiritual Problems and Spiritual Strengths (pdf)

The Patient as Person:

We believe that doctors and other medical providers will provide better overall care when they define, seek out, and care for the patient as person.  In this we have been heavily influenced by the writings of Paul Tournier, especially the following two books:
The Healing of Persons
The Meaning of Persons

Note the International Association of the Medicine of the Person Link also.

Other Helpful Links:

Volunteering overseas: money and time.

Helpful Videos:

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2
Prescription for Change: Ending America's Opioid Crisis
Link to the Escape Fire documentary on Overuse in the American medical system

Helpful Questions for those who come for help in a crisis:

  • Can you tell me a story about how this is affecting you?

  • How do you see your role in this issue?

  • Have you experienced anything like this before?

  • How did you resolve things then?

  • Are there strengths you used before that would help you now?

  • If this were not a problem for you, what would be different?

  • If you could wave a wand and resolve this, how would you want it to be?

  • What resources do you think you might need to solve this issue?

  • Are there others you need to share this with, and what might you say to them?

  • What is the most important thing we should talk about today?

  • What are you hoping I won’t bring up?

  • When you are in this relationship, what is present that would be missing without you? How might you make that more obvious to others?

  • In this crisis, what are you feeling that no one knows except you? What are those feelings doing for you and to you?