Monday, September 29, 2008

In supervison

In my field, we call the person who does the kind of work that I do a "supervisor." That's kind of a confusing word because I'm really an educator -- I educate student clergy and others about how to be a chaplain or how to go about the task of providing spiritual care to hospital patients and others dealing with crisis, grief and loss.

And sometimes you really find me in front of a classroom, looking a lot like a teacher or a professor. But you'll also find me meeting with my students individually behind a closed door for 45 minutes or an hour and discussing with them in depth the struggles -- often deeply personal or spiritual -- they face in their work with hospital patients. The skill sets I use at those times look very much like that of the psychotherapist. Listening intently -- and helping the person I am listening to examine and understand their own thoughts, actions and feelings -- is most of what I do there.

Popular culture has tended to favor professions like police work or medicine for its television characters, but the pschotherapist is finding a place in a new hit HBO series called In Treatment.

It turns out this show is based -- quite closely from what I understand -- on a much-praised Israeli television show called בטיפול/Betipul. Minna and I have started watching it and are really loving it. It's a particularly appropriate show for me to watch now because I'm at a stage in my studies where I'm working to figure out how exactly the insights from the world of psychotherapy and psychology fit into how I think about the work that I do. And, I'm especially focused on figuring out how to integrate elements of Jewish and Hebrew culture and language into my thoughts. So, it's great to have this opportunity to see how the ideas and concepts of psychotherapy -- and the things that come up in psychotherapy sessions -- are expressed in Hebrew.


The gift of being able to be here in Israel while I engage in this thought and study is just one of the many gifts that have come to me this past year. It is only about 11 months ago that I first met Minna. In March, I crossed a major hurdle in my pursuit of full certification as a CPE (clinical pastoral education) supervisor. I've been able to do some great learning in my career and have had some great students; I was really enriched by my encounters with those students. . . . Something really Holy happened there sometimes. . . It's just such an incredible thing to be there with people when they are really struggling to find their way to serve God and to grow into the most of what it is that God has granted them the possibility to become.

I was able to do some exciting bicycle rides this year, including three really interesting ones in and around Jerusalem so far (especially this one). The best ride of the year, was touring in Rhode Island with Minna, but it was also great to do a century. I also had a ton of fun this year building and experimenting with an Xtracycle.

There was some traveling to chaplaincy conferences that really led to some great thought, fellowship and growth. The best was having a chance to be a part of a meeting of the new ACPE Jewish supervisors group in Dallas, but I was also really to go to the Racial Ethnic Multicultural networks's conference in Memphis on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assasination.

May it be the will of the Blessed Holy One that you will have the sweetest of years ahead. A year of health and joy.

Shannah Tova.

[x-posted to abayye]

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