Pastoral Care at Canterbury
Pastoral Care Basics
The art of pastoral care begins with prayer and good listening. Following these guidelines will help enable you provide the best possible care to someone in need:
- STOP TALKING. You can't listen if you are talking.
- SHOW THAT YOU WANT TO LISTEN. Look and act interested. Focus on the person.
- SIT AT EYE LEVEL. This is especially important if someone is in bed! Don't loom over them.
- EMPATHIZE. Listen to understand, rather than to cheer up or change.
- BE PATIENT. Don't rush the speaker. Don't interrupt.
- ASK OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS. Let the other person guide the conversation.
- LISTEN FOR THE MESSAGE AND FEELING BEHIND THE WORDS.
- REFLECT THE FEELING AND THE MESSAGE. Reflect back the feeling and the message you received from the speaker. "Hmm. Your surgery was rescheduled again. It sounds like you're feeling really angry. Is that right?" "So your daughter is in town, and I hear you saying that you're feeling overwhelmed. Would it be better if we planned our visit for another day?"
- LISTEN ATTENTIVELY. Do not formulate an answer when the person is speaking. Sometimes an answer isn't even needed!
- BE AWARE. Notice your own mental, physical, and psychological state. What is going on inside of you? What are you reacting to?
- RELAX. Breathe. Be yourself. You are there to be there. You don't have to do anything else.
- ALWAYS ASK, NEVER ASSUME. It's tempting to assume we know what a person needs: they need prayer, they need a meal, they need a visit, they need a ride. We may be right. They may need it, but they might not want it. They may need it, but they might not be ready for it. They may need it, but they might need something else even more. They may need it, but they might need to be empowered to ask for it. So always ASK people what they feel, want, and need...even if it seems obvious! Allow people to say "no."
- TRUST GOD. Remember that you and the other person are loved by God and held by God. Trust that God is with you, and that God is with that person. Trust that God knows what each of you truly needs, and God is faithful to meet those needs. Trust that God is always in the process of healing, renewing, and restoring all things to wholeness...sometimes with our help, and sometimes in spite of it!