Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Brent R. Kelly


Narrative theory, life review, chaplaincy, hospice, healthcare




In healthcare chaplaincy, narrative theory can help the patient separate themselves from their grief or terminal illness. It has been said that chaplaincy is a “ministry of presence,” however, just showing up is a low-level intervention. The purpose for this Doctor of Ministry thesis is to equip chaplains with a comprehensive framework for apply narrative theory and life review in the healthcare chaplaincy context. This thesis seeks to explore and define biblical models of storytelling and spiritual narratives. This thesis will encourage chaplains to have meaningful, engaging and longer visits in individual and group visits. If the spiritual care department at Queen City Hospice is fully educated about narrative theory and life review, then chaplains may be able to be better active listeners and incorporate appropriate interventions. The problem is that the spiritual care team at Queen City Hospice appears to not spend adequate time at the bedside and engaging patients and families given the time reports documented in the electronic medical record. To address the problem, a four-week training program was established to incorporate narrative theory and life review into the repertoire of chaplain interventions. The four-week program included a focus group of chaplains who volunteer to be in the study. A qualitative study utilized information gathered from surveys before and after the four-week program and includes interviews by chaplains within the focus group to gain a better perspective of how these clinical interventions can help them in their ministry. This thesis reveals that narratives can change the way in which patient’s see themselves and the world.

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