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. )


Crisis Defusing Webinar

We had a nice time partnering with “Bless Our Cops” in holding a webinar on Crisis Defusing. Celia led the lecture while Crista handled the technical issues. Celia, Vo, and Hyui led small groups for some questions, and to practice what was covered in the lecture portion. It was a good activity, we think. This was our first webinar and will look into doing more in the future.

Crisis Intervention Defusing

While we have held training in Crisis Intervention Defusing, particularly utilizing a modified NOVA model, we decided to look at the activity through the lens of two cases in the Bible. The cases involve Job and Elijah. One could be thought of as a bad example, and the other a good example. However, even bad examples can still be highly instructive.

Article on Disaster Response Chaplaincy

This was written several years ago, but some tiny changes were made to it as it was resubmitted to, so decided to provide a link to it for those interested.

Snapshots of Faith, Hope, and Growth in Disaster Response Chaplaincy

Disaster Response for Ministers

DR May 1“Disaster Response for Ministers” training. at PBTS in partnership with Bukal Life Care. This is part of PBTS’ “Summer Leadership Institute.” Dean Miller from the Baptist General Assembly of Virginia was the lead trainer. The focus was developing of relief response networks that are prepared to respond to disasters of a variety of kinds and relating to a variety of needs. It was a great time for learning and for sharing insights.

DR May B3aOn the right is Dean Miller, our lead facilitator/instructor. Additionally,, Bob and Jehny (from Bukal Life Care) assisted, particularly in giving overviews of disaster response chaplaincy as it pertains to crisis defusing (Bob) and Play and Art Therapy (Jehny)

Basic Program/Schedule of Events for Disaster Response for Ministers Training

Wednesday (May 13)
Before 2pm        Registration at Finance/Dorms
2pm 1st              Session/ Welcome/Intro
3:30pm               Break
4pm                    2nd Session
5:30pm               Dinner
7:30am               Breakfast
8:30am               3rd Session
10 am                 Break
10:30 am            4th Session
12 pm                 Lunch
1:30 pm              5th Session
3 pm                   Break
3:30 pm              6th Session
5:30 pm              Dinner
Friday                            (Same Schedule as Thursday)
7:30am              Breakfast
8:30am              11th Session
10:am                Break
10:15 am          12th Session/ Graduation/Certificates
11:30 am           Lunch

What’s New in Summer and Beyond

<For the most part, this is a repeat of a post on the CPSP-Philippines website:;

A few updates. As Summer is beginning here (Summer starts in March in the Philippines) a number of things are happening.

1.  Clinical Pastoral Care.  CPO (“Clinical Pastoral Orientation”), a shortened-form of CPE intended for professionals and Bible school students, is finishing up in Baguio. CPO has requirements that are approximately 1/4th of a Full Unit of CPE (and according to my calculations, that is 1/2 of the requirements of a Half Unit). It provides a taste of the philosophy and training structure of CPE for those who are curious… and can be taken for school credit in some places.

Additionally, our Foundations of Clinical Pastoral Care book in development has just pased the 100 page mark (finally). It is almost a year and a half in development… but it is rolling now. It seeks to integrate the methodology and insights of the modern CPE and pastoral care movements, with the insights and theological grounding of the historical pastoral care movement. Prayerfully, the first draft should ready by June. This will provide the text basis for CPO/CPC training.

CPO will start again, hopefully, in June or July, but this time in Bulacan. Will keep you updated. <Note: While CPE is certified certified by CPSP-PI in conjunction with the standards of CPSP, CPO is not. It is a training program under the standards of Bukal Life Care… following methodology and quality standards of the CPSP-PI CPE program.>

2.  Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE always seems to be a fluid thing since it is small groups driven by need and opportunity. However, it LOOKS like CPE will be held this Summer at:

  • Three locations in Manila
  • One location in Baguio  (Full unit starts March 16. Half unit starts 2nd week of April)
  • One location in Korea

3.  D.Min. in “Pastoral Counseling and Clinical Pastoral Supervision.”  This program is held in Central Philippines University, in partnership with CPSP and CPSP-PI. The program is new but on-going. We are excited by its potential.

4.  Disaster Response Chaplaincy. CPSP-PI, Bukal Life Care, and Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary, will be holding a 3-day intensive training in Disaster Response Chaplaincy May 13-16 (yes, it looks like 4 days… but the ends are cut off). One of the goals of CPSP-Philippines is to add a sub-specialty for Clinical Chaplains of Disaster Response Chaplain.

5.  CPSP-PI Standards and MOA. CPSP-Philippinesstandards have been disseminated for utilization by chapters, training centers, and CPE programs. They closely follow the standards set by CPSP. The Memorandum of Agreement between CPSP and CPSP-Philippines has been written up and is presently being reviewed by both parties. Hopefully, the final version will be done soon for signing. The MOA will ensure equivalency of programs and reciprocity of certifications between the organizations.

Upcoming Events. December 2014 and Beyond


This picture has some members of the Bukal Life staff at the AV-STM Dinner, December 5th. There were approximately 500 in attendance. We have a partnership with AV-STM (Asia Vision-Short Term Mission). It was founded in 2002 at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary by Dr. Byung-Yoon Kim. AV-STM has sent hundreds of Filipino and Asian missionaries on short-term missions throughout Southeast Asia and Central Asia. It has also supported some mid-term missionaries.

Bukal Life Care has been working in partnership with them over the last few years. We assist with initial evaluation of prospective missionaries, Some training in pastoral care and first aid. Additionally, our team has been able to do some in-field missionary member care, as well as post-trip member care.

AV-STM came out with a new calendar for 2015 with a considerable number of photos or our team and work. We appreciate that, and look forward to further partnership in 2015.

December 11-13.  Meeting with Dr. Raymond Lawarence, the General Secretary  of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.

January 5-7, 2015.  Lide-Walker Conference… and Grand Opening of New Office of Bukal Life Care.

January 19.  Clinical Pastoral Orientation starts. 6 weeks.

March 23.  Clinical Pastoral Education.  11 weeks.

March (late). AV-STM Prefield Training.

May 13-16.  Disaster Response Chaplaincy Intensive Course.