Clergy are trusted providers of support, but these days, fewer Americans are going to church

A Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate on the East coast has found that many of their members are not taking advantage of the preventive health programs that the company offers. Instead they are using more expensive care, such as emergency rooms.

To find out why that was happening, they did some research. They found that their members did not trust the providers or the healthcare system. Who do they trust? Their church.

This points to the value of spiritual care in conjunction with other health services. However, as Wendy Cadge, Ph.D., points out in The Atlantic, it’s also the case that, “Growing numbers of Americans, especially under the age of 30, are not religiously affiliated or involved with spiritual or religious organizations. They do not have local religious leaders to call in a crisis like their grandparents did. Instead, in moments of great need, many are turning to chaplains and spiritual-care providers.”

“Religious congregations have been slowly yet steadily declining over the past 20 years as the number of people engaging with chaplains and spiritual-care providers is on the rise. In a national survey conducted last year, 21 percent of Americans reported having contact with a chaplain in the previous two years, mostly through health-care organizations.”

Employers can access the same trusted Chaplains and spiritual care providers through The Company Chaplain. All our chaplains are Board certified, meaning they are clinically trained, with Master’s degrees. They uphold the standards of Ethics for the profession and they are subject to the scrutiny of their peers. Our Chaplains are used to working as part of an interdisciplinary team, supporting clients as they encounter life’s challenges, such as:

  • the uncertainty of a major change
  • fear of a terminal diagnosis
  • despair as life loses it’s meaning
  • remorse or shame around past actions
  • difficulty trusting providers–possibly due to a history of childhood abuse, for example
  • making sense of life when suddenly everything changes

Spirituality is central to health and well-being, though often overlooked in benefits programs such as EAP. After medication, spiritual practice is the next most commonly used approach for treating physical pain. Spiritual experience and belief gives many people a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. It underpins recovery programs of many kinds, such as the 12-step program.

Spiritual practices such as meditation are now so ubiquitous that there are many apps for that. So isn’t it time that EAP expanded it’s model to include the many thousands of trusted, board certified spiritual care providers who can address spiritual suffering with expertise and wisdom?

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