Emotional Intelligence in Hospice Chaplaincy

Dr. Saul Ebema

When I became a hospice chaplain, the first few months was hard for me. I enjoyed my visits with the patients and their families but I struggled a lot emotionally on the concept of “leaving work at work.” Even when I arrived home after work, I would think about the patients I had met and the challenges they were going through. Not long and I was suffering from compassion fatigue.

I loved my job so much and I realized that for me to be successful in my work, I needed to balance my emotions and That’s why today I want to address the issue of emotional intelligence in Hospice Chaplaincy.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive and express emotions. It enables the chaplain to understand his/her own and the patient’s emotions and then be able to apply this understanding to the therapeutic process.

Chaplains who understand or are sensitive to their emotions and the level to which their emotions affect patients will be more effective counselors.

Attributes of emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

What can a chaplain do to enhance their emotional intelligence?

  1. Understand your emotions- your feelings as they happen. Be in touch with your feelings. A chaplain needs to assess his/her feelings.
  2. Develop empathy- your ability to understand other people’s emotions will help you help them better
  3. Learn how to embrace your emotions and use it well to the benefit of the counseling process. When you are sensitive to the patient’s needs and manage your emotions well, you are bound to be effective.
  4.  Embrace your feelings and the feelings of others

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