October 2022 Updates

Here are a few highlights of what is just finished, is finishing, is starting, or in the near future. Well… I guess that pretty much covers it.

Just Finished: We had a great visit with Chaplain Renato and Dr. Joy Eustaquio. They serve God in Bocaue, Bulacan. They have a center there (“The Chaplain’s Office”) that is involved in Corporate Chaplaincy, Hospital Chaplaincy, and problems with eyesight (‘low vision’). Chaplain Renato is a supervisee of Chaplain Celia, and has been a friend or partner of Bukal Life Care for many years. This last Sunday, he shared a short inspirational message on corporate chaplaincy and ministry for the CPO group.

Is Finishing: We are entering the final leg of our online Clinical Pastoral Orientation (CPO). This group of 8 with Chaplain Celia have been meeting on Sundays online for several weeks. The second weekend of October, they will all gather IRL (‘in real life’) for their final meeting, and celebration.

Is Starting. Groups of Chaplains Vo and Lyn are just starting CPE groups. Chaplain Vo’s group with working with a local ministry named KABSAT (by the way the word “kabsat” is Ilocano for “friend”) and is doing much of their practical ministry in the cancer center of Baguio General Hospital.

In the Near Future. On October 15. the Munsons were asked to join a training involving Childhood Trauma. Chaplain Celia will be one of the resource speakers for this.

Also in the near future we should have our Bukal Life Journal done. It is pretty much complete now. Just waiting on some corrections on one article. Hope to have good news soon.


Good Recent Films on Grief Counseling

There are few good movies on counseling. In the past, I have looked up movies that are focused on counseling or psychotherapy. For the most part, I found those rather disappointing. Often if one looked for an Internet list of movies on counseling, at the top of the list is Good Will Hunting. I watched the movie and felt that there were many good things about it. There is a lot of good things about that movie, but I don’t really see it as an example of good counseling.

Upon reflection of it, I think it may be a cultural issue. I live in the Philippines and that is where we do counseling. The movie takes place in the United States, and boy but does it feel like it. The main character, Matt Damon, is encouraged to not only be differentiated, but to literally disconnect from all of his social network and leave without even acknowledging those relationships. It almost sounds more like malpractice than good counseling. In the Philippines, a healthy person may need to redefine their relationships and boundaries, but they would not be seen as healthy if they simply dumped everything and ran (rode) away.

However, there are a couple of good movies I have seen lately that I think are better examples of counseling— especially in the context of loss. I won’t give a full review here. You can watch them yourselves.

#1. Worth. This movie stars Michael Keaton, and deals with the US government payments to the families of victims of the 9/11 tragedy. There is no professional counseling in this movie. However, as the movie moves forward, the people involved with working on this program learn that they have to listen to the stories and focus on the struggles and pain of the loved ones who must live on rather than focusing on money. It definitely shows not only what to do, but what not to do. It is a valuable watch.

#2. The Starling. Unlike the first movie, this is a comedy. Well, it is more of a dark comedy. The main couple (played by Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd) suffer the loss of a child. One of them becomes institutionalized and receives counseling there. The other has to try to hold things together at home, but also does receive counseling through a support group and later by a veterinarian (it actually kind of makes sense in the movie). Both of them work their way slowly through grief. The process seems pretty believable with no trite realizations or answers. Perhaps one of the best features of the movie is that the counseling was… a bit uncertain. Both the husband and wife questioned whether their counselors were competent. Counseling is not really about showing off one’s awesome skills but helping their clients grow and soon not need them. As such, the fact that the counselees question their counselors’ skills is not bad. The fact that both of them grew through the experience, and eventually found they could support each other instead of relying on their counselors, suggests a level of competence. (To be fair, if I remember correctly, Matt Damon, in Good Will Hunting also learned to doubt the competence of Robin Williams, his counselor. In some forms of care, like paradoxical psychotherapy, the goal is to intentionally try to make the client doubt the competence or even sanity of their therapist. )

Thanks Canada, from “The Art of Pastoral Care”

Our book, “The Art of Pastoral Care” has been used for Intro to Pastoral Care and Counseling, as well as Clinical Pastoral Orientation and Clinical Pastoral Education classes here in the Philippines. Not surprisingly, the largest number of this book have been given or sold here in the Philippines.

Strangely, the second largest number of this book purchased has been Canada. Not sure why. Upon doing a bit of searching, it seems that there are a couple of Christian colleges using that book as a textbook for Intro to PC&C. That is great.

We have been asked to teach a Pastoral Care course for Bible college students in the US sometime in the next few months. It will be interesting to see for ourselves how the book works for a “Western” audience.

Anyway, it is great that the book is finding use outside of the Philippines. We are looking into writing a book on Pastoral Theology as a follow-on to “The Art of Pastoral Care” and our other book, “Dynamics in Pastoral Care,” and finding that people are using our other books and benefiting from them certain encourages us to invest time in the research and writing.

The book is available at a number of places online (both paperback and e-book). But in honor of Canada, I will give a Canadian link.