Mental Health and Hospital Chaplaincy: Strategies of Self-Protection (Case Study: Toronto, Canada)


Masoud Kianpour 1 , *

1 Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of the Social Sciences, University of Isfahan, Iran. Department of the Social Sciences, Faculty of Literature and the Humanities, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

How to Cite: Kianpour M. Mental Health and Hospital Chaplaincy: Strategies of Self-Protection (Case Study: Toronto, Canada), Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2013 ; 7(1):69-77.


Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences: 7 (1); 69-77
Published Online: June 30, 2013
Article Type: Original Article
Received: February 14, 2012
Revised: December 02, 2012
Accepted: March 04, 2012


Objective: This is a study about emotion management among a category of healthcare professional – hospital chaplains – who have hardly been the subject of sociological research about emotions. The aim of the study was to understand how chaplains manage their work-related emotions in order to protect their mental health, whilst also providing spiritual care.

Methods: Using in-depth, semi structured interviews, the author spoke with 21 chaplains from five faith traditions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and modern paganism) in different Toronto (Canada) Hospitals to see how they manage their emotion, and what resources they rely on in order to protect their mental health. Data analysis was perfumed according to Sandelowski’s method of qualitative description.

Results: The average age and work experience of the subjects interviewed in this study are 52 and 9.6 respectively. 11 chaplains worked part-time and 10 chaplains worked full-time. 18 respondents were women and the sample incudes 3 male chaplains only. The findings are discussed, among others, according to the following themes: work-life balance, self-reflexivity, methods of self-care, and chaplains’ emotional make-up.

Conclusion: Emotion management per se is not a problem. However, if chaplains fail to maintain a proper work-life balance, job pressure can be harmful. As a strategy, many chaplains work part-time. As a supportive means, an overwhelming number of chaplains regularly benefit from psychotherapy and/or spiritual guidance.

Declaration of interest: None.

Citation: Kianpour M. Mental health and hospital chaplaincy: strategies of self-protection (casestudy: Toronto, Canada). Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci 2013; 7(1): 69-77.


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