The Relationship Between Spiritual Care and Psychological First Aid (PFA)

Speech Delivered by:

Chaplain Dr. Joy David-Mike

On the Mini Graduation Ceremony of Psychological First Aid Training

On Sat. 9th Oct, AD 2021

Topic: The Relationship Between Spiritual Care and Psychological First Aid (PFA).

Welcome: I welcome you all to this epoch-making event. It’s wonderful being here. I appreciate everyone and thank you for the opportunity granted me to speak to you. It is indeed an honor.

I thank the leadership of this unique organization; the visionary leader, Prof. Jude. God bless you, sir and give you the sufficient grace to accomplish this laudable vision of yours.

I will also not forget to thank Vivian, whom I call Lady V. Our first meeting was so inviting and appealing. God bless you richly. Permit me to thank my friend and colleague; my motivator and encourager, Chaplain Matthew Ngobua, the one I call the man with the master key. He knows how to pull me out from my shell. God bless you richly.

My prayer for us is that this organization and its vision will not die in our hands but outlive us all with a lot of benefits. To the young ones who are our targeted audience, you are welcome. God bless you all.

Introduction: Human life is filled with ups and downs. We journey with a lot of stressors that hinders us from experiencing a holistic wellbeing. These make it difficult for many to make meaning of life. Many find it difficult, if not impossible, to experience fulfilment in life.

The resultant effect of human ills, pains and sufferings affect every aspect of human life – physical, emotional, mental, psychological, spiritual and social – which makes daily living challenging.

To keep safe, sane, sound, and healthy, various forms of aids and care need to reach the patients. These come in various forms, such as psychological first, emotional first, mental first, spiritual first, psychosocial, and psycho spiritual.

If one must live a holistic life, all these aspects must be attended to.

Journey with me in this presentation to learn more about how you can be of assistance to people around you who are faced with one challenge or the other. God bless you all.

Definition of Terms: Follow me as I define the key words in this presentation.

Relationship: In line with the topic of this presentation, relationship is a state of connectedness between people or things; the state of being related; the way in which two or more people or things are connected or associated.

Spiritual: This relates to or affects human soul or spirit, usually in contrast to material or physical things; pertaining to the soul or its affections as influenced by the spirit.

Psychological: It affects or arises from the mind; relating to the mental and emotional state of a person; mental or emotional as opposed to physical in nature; relating to the mind and mental processes.

Spiritual Care: Spiritual care is the support chaplains and other spiritual caregivers offer people who are struggling with emotional, mental and spiritual crisis.

Spiritual care is also the attention given to the spirituality and spiritual health of another for the purpose of assisting the person in taking steps to move towards a balance and greater personal authenticity, integrity or inner congruence.

As this assistance is offered and received, the stress caused by the dissonance is moderated and diminished, as movement towards balance is made which result in enhanced spiritual health and wellbeing.

The part of human health tended to in spiritual care is known as “Spiritual Health.” When it includes mental, emotional and psychological aspect of human life, it is known as “Psycho-spiritual Care”. However, I prefer “Emo-Psycho-Spiritual Care.”

People seek meaning in order to live authentically with themselves and others. This can become a particular set of spiritual beliefs, guiding the ultimate purpose of our lives. Spiritual care is not same as religious care, though related but different and unique.

Psychological First Aid: There are various definition of PFA, but let’s take these two:

PFA is an evidence-informed approach that is built on the concept of human resilience, to reduce stress symptoms and assist the receiver in a healthy recovery following a traumatic event, natural disaster, public health emergency or even personal crisis.

PFA is an evidence-informed modular approach to help people of various ages (children, adolescents, youth, adults, elderly and their families) in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism, designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and foster short-term adaptive functioning and coping.

From the definitions, I believe we have the understanding of the importance and interconnectedness of spiritual and psychological care. I would like to fuse the two terms into one – Psychospiritual. Call it psychospiritual First Aid or Psychospiritual Care.

Human beings are tripartite beings, with the makeup of the body, the soul and the spirit, which are interwoven.

Research Support: Research validates that the help and support people receive in times of crisis and life challenging situations matter. Providing effective psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual care to individuals, families and communities in difficult times is critical and helps promote resilience, healing, and recovery.

Spiritual and psychological First Aid (SPFA) seeks to provide psychological, emotional, mental, and spiritual care for people who experienced or are experiencing traumas or any life crisis.

SPFA is a practical compassionate and supportive presence of one person to another or a professional to another, which is designed to mitigate acute distress, assess needs, provide essential supportive care, and link with other support systems as needed for ongoing psychological, spiritual, emotional, and mental health care.

The relationship Between Spiritual Care and PFA: I plead with you to be patient with me as I would like to consider the differences between spiritual care and PFA first.

Their Differences: No matter how connected, related and associated they seem to be, there are differences between them and each is unique in the goals it sets to achieve in human existence.

PFA is a short-term care given to people who experienced traumatic events to help relieve tension, stress, and get them calm pending when professional care would be available. Spiritual Care, on the other hand, is a long-term care that may span through care-recipients’ lifetime to enable them live a fulfilling and meaningful live despite their conditions.

PFA offers a temporal relief to curb or avoid further crisis or damage while Spiritual Care is more comprehensive, targeted to the “whole person” for holistic healing and recovery.

PFA deals with immediate and present conditions of the recipients while Spiritual Care deals with the past, present and future for interconnectedness of the spirit, soul, and body for a fulfilled life.

PFA focuses on the reduction of stress in the victims of traumatic events and to get them calm and safe before professional help arrives while Spiritual Care focuses on helping people address issues sprung from traumatic events they had experienced.

PFA is like a palliative care to soothe the mind of traumatized individuals for a while in order to mitigate further crisis that may be detrimental to the persons’ health while Spiritual Care takes the process of wound healing and recovery to enable them live a holistic life with meaning and purpose.

Having done justice to the differences, follow me as we go on to spiritual care and PFA connectivity and association:

Spiritual care and PFA have one target – human beings. The two terms seek to help people in traumatic or painful situations bounce back and thrive. Spiritual care and PFA seek to safeguard individuals who experienced traumatic events or passed through critical life challenges and problems.

These two terms have two categories of people or groups that offer this care to achieve maximum benefits in people who are in need of them. These people are volunteers or professionals. In my profession, chaplaincy, we have them as the generalists and the specialists.

Conclusion: Just like medical first aid, PFA and spiritual care can be administered in an emergency before the arrival of professionals or specialists in the field.

Final Word: I hope you have learnt something from this little knowledge of mine on this topic. My prayer for us all is that God will safeguard us from all ills, crisis, traumas or any experience that may alter our holistic health.

Stay sane, safe, whole, sound, and healthy and remain eternally blessed.

Thank you,

Chaplain Dr. Joy David-Mike SCC, CPC

DMin. Chaplaincy Education