Spiritual Care

Spirituality and Spiritual Care

The definition of spirituality differs from person to person, across ethnicity, gender, class and cultural lines, but a common thread exists; that there is a power greater than oneself implying an intuitive knowing that there is meaning and order to the flow of our lives’ events.

Our human spiritual dimension is a major healing force; it can make the difference between life and death, wellness and illness.

When illness, loss, grief, or pain strike a person, one’s energy is often depleted and spirit is affected, often producing spiritual needs and concerns. People are often energized through their “spirit” resulting in a movement toward wellness and enthusiasm in relationships.

Examples of spiritual needs include hope, meaning, purpose in life, a sense of community, and forgiveness.

Mission Statement

Through all phases of life...
from celebration to loss...

We serve people as they connect their spirituality with the experience of injury, disease and disability.

We do this by living out the values of St. Joseph's Health Care London: Respect, Excellence, Compassion.

We respect and honour the sacredness of each person.

As professionally educated and clinically-trained Spiritual Care Practitioners, we continue to develop our expertise to meet the needs of those we serve. Compassion flows from understanding the needs of those we serve, in a spiritual care relationship.

Upcoming Events

Spiritual Care Awareness Week: Oct. 18 - 24

St. Joseph's Health Care London and the St. Joseph's Health Care Society are proud to present a special virtual event:

Overcoming Barriers to Spiritual Health

  • Date: Friday, Oct. 15
  • Time: 12 - 1 pm
  • Featured speaker: 
    Harold Koenig, M.D. 

Register for the virtual event

For more details, view the Spiritual Care Week event poster.

Virtual Memorial Service

It has been a long-standing tradition at St. Joseph’s to offer an in-person memorial service to honour those patients and residents who have passed. COVID-19 has disrupted and delayed many of our normal gatherings – including our in-person memorial services. 

To help provide an opportunity for remembrance during this time, the Spiritual Care Department has prepared a special virtual memorial service to enable family members, staff and those in the community to acknowledge the losses we have experienced, and to help in the grieving process. The simple virtual service includes reflection, poetry, music – and a candle lighting to acknowledge everyone we remember.

Clinical Pastoral Education

Placement Process

Program Structure: Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an experiential-based educational program and provides students with rich and varied learning opportunities in the art, science and practice of spiritual care in a clinical health care setting.

Over 25 years of experience in the provision of CPE education has enabled us to continually refine and improve our experiential-based program. We use an adult-based teaching style to build on the knowledge base our students bring to the course.  Theological, psychological, psychotherapeutic, sociological and ethical themes are woven throughout every training unit.  

CPE units are provided on a variety of our hospital sites. Spiritual Care provides service in all Programs in the hospital and across the continuum of health care.  St. Joseph’s services patients (adolescents to elderly) with complex and chronic diseases, chronic mental illness, rehabilitation and recovery needs, and veterans and residents in our long-term care programs.

We foster opportunities for students to roll up their sleeves and get right to work in clinical areas.  This is followed up with reflection, analyses, and integration of learning from caregiving experiences. CPE also fosters students’ personal learning goals to help them achieve their potential in providing spiritual care to others.  By working directly with patients, family and interprofessional team members from a variety of health care disciplines, students build their skills in supporting others on their own unique sacred paths. 

Clinical units of training are offered on a full time and part time basis. Three levels of training are offered at St. Joseph’s Health Care London:

  • Basic Level CPE (2 successful Basic Units are required to move to Advanced Training)
  • Advanced Level CPE (2 successful Advanced Units are required to move toward certification as a Specialist in Pastoral Care)
  • Supervisory Education for those who have achieved Specialist Certification and are interested in training as a Teaching Supervisor, CPE.

Placement options 

Spiritual Care offers a variety of placement opportunities depending on the availability of a teaching supervisor and on the sufficient number of successful student applications.  Each unit consists of a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 6 students.

Full time intensive 12 week (400 hour) units are offered during the summer months.  Part time (400 hour) extended units are also an option during Fall/Winter months if there are a sufficient number of interested and successful applicants.

Length of placement 

Each CPE unit involves 400 hours of training which is divided equally between a) direct clinical experience providing spiritual care to patients, families and staff and b) various group educational processes.

Written assignments also form part of the learning agenda.

Evaluation process

Students are evaluated utilizing a national CASC/ACSS standardized evaluation tool that is competency based.  Evaluations are completed by both the teaching supervisor and by the student themselves.

There is a mid-term evaluation and a final evaluation.

In addition there is a formal feedback process through which students receive feedback from interprofessional team members in their assigned clinical areas.  

Student also have the opportunity to evaluate and provide feedback to their clinical areas as to how they have experienced the clinical area team’s support of their learning goals.

Regulatory Body/Professional Association

Our organization is accredited with CASC/ACSS (Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association Canadienne de soins Spirituels) as an official teaching hospital for Clinical Pastoral Education. Our teaching supervisors are certified members of CASC/ACSS [and are members of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario]. 

The Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association Canadienne de soins Spirituels. Business Office: 27-1267 Dorval Drive, Oakville, ON L6M 3Z4. Toll Free: 1-866-442-2773. Fax: (289) 837-480.

Local University affiliations for our training program include the University of Western Ontario’s St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Seminary and Huron University College (Anglican).

Process for placements

To initiate the application process contact Teaching Supervisor: @email.

The application process includes a written application, references and a face to face interview.

It is not necessary that college and/or seminary education requirements be complete for education to begin. 

See the CASC/ACSS website for information about establishing equivalency of past education and for academic requirements for advanced and supervisory training.

People with backgrounds in various health care disciplines also benefit from this training. 

More information about professional certification is available on the CASC website. 

Orientation process

Interns participate in the organizational orientation processes.  In addition, they are oriented to their assigned clinical areas by the staff chaplains who cover that program/clinical unit.  Didactics provide orientation to processes such as charting, spiritual assessment processes, etc.

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