Meeting #3 Buddhist Chaplaincy in North America, Japan, and Beyond Part II

Presentation by Prof. Elaine Yuen

Former program lead for the Master of Divinity program at Naropa University & presently working with  with other faculty in Buddhist chaplaincy programs.  She discusses an ongoing research project: Mapping Buddhist Chaplains in North America – Chaplaincy Innovation Lab

The survey targeted the USA and Canada to find out about the chaplains’ educational history, what kinds of clinical experiences they had, how many were certified, and how they were employed. The survey included 49 qualitative and quantitative items.

425 people responded to the survey

Board certified chaplains in the USA must be either ordained or endorsed, which means that you are a “member in good standing” of your religious community. This further means that the community will advocate for you as a spiritual care provider. About 1/3 of survey respondents were not endorsed or ordained.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is the essential standard for chaplaincy in the USA. It involves 400 hours of training per one unit and requires 4 units for full certification to work in many healthcare  institutions. This is broken down into 300 hrs in interaction with patients/family/staff and 100 hrs in didactics and presentations.  Criteria for board certification include: 1) personal formation: to be grounded in one’s own religious/spiritual tradition; 2) developing professional clinical skills, such as deep listening, being with suffering, proper interaction with others; and 3) demonstrating a deep understanding of the structure and institutions related to professional chaplaincy. This will involve social justice issues within the institution.  Many of these competencies are evaluated through essays and personal reflections.

For more on these issues, see Contemplative Engagement: The Development of Buddhist Chaplaincy in the United States & Its Meaning for Japan by Jonathan S. Watts and Rev. Jin Hitoshi (November 2015)

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