Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Margaret T. Gopaul


Chaplains, Geriatric Chaplains, Mental Health Chaplains, Self-care, Ethics


Christianity | Counseling | Religion


The Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) evaluated the expanding roles of chaplains in mental health and identified the prevalent need for additional training among chaplains when integrating chaplaincy and mental health services. Literature revealed that chaplains were lacking in the skillsets and pastoral care practices needed to effectively care for elderly patients with mental health disorders. A gap remains in literature regarding the reported level of training and preparedness of chaplains who ministered to geriatric mental health patients within clinical settings, which this project sought to examine. Harter’s competence motivation theory and the Holy Bible served as this project’s theoretical and theological foundations, respectively. This quantitative study used a questionnaire instrument to survey 26 chaplains. The target population was professional chaplains working in a clinical setting within New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, who had at least one or more pastoral visit(s) with patient(s) over 65-years diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The data variables of six areas of training, level of preparedness, and competency were analyzed via SurveyMonkey. The findings confirmed the need for additional training and preparedness among chaplains who ministered to geriatric mental health patients within clinical settings. The results and empirical literature informed the development of a practical guide that included ways to help improve this ministry challenge and assist geriatric psychiatric chaplains in providing comprehensive delivery of competent care to patients. Also, geriatric patients will tangibly benefit from receiving more competent and focused chaplaincy care, which in turn would be favorable for clinical practices as a whole.