Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Building a New Life: A Chaplain’s Theory Based Case Study of Chronic Illness

This article presents the case study of spiritual care for a patient suffering from Parkinson’s disease who was referred to the chaplain in an out-patient depression research program. The chaplain’s interventions were informed by an application of narrative theory, and the article demonstrates how this theory enabled the chaplain to help a patient develop new coping strategies for dealing with chronic disease. Using narrative theory, the chaplain assisted the patient to develop a new sense of identity as a spiritual, contingent self as the disease eroded his physical self and former life. The arti- cle includes a description of a patient’s spiritual needs, chaplain interventions, and an outcomes measure of those interventions. The author argues that narrative theory provides chaplains with a language to identify and craft the unique intervention that spiritual care has in the life trajectory of this Parkinson’s patient and other patients dealing with chronic illnesses.