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SF Helps Get Patients Unstuck



As a twenty-one-year veteran of medical chaplaincy, asking questions of sick and dying patients is a delicate issue. You want to elicit the patient’s story, but too many questions tire the patient out.


After ten weeks of Solution Focused training, which emphasizes asking powerful questions, I wondered how often the OSKAR model would prove useful. One patient provided such an opportunity not long after I completed the training. She was a referral from the nursing staff with a high degree of complaint. The patient lived in the back bedroom of her daughter’s house, and she felt ignored and neglected…even resented. I gave several feedback responses, but the patient would circle around and repeat the stories again, rehearsing her helpless anger and frustration.

She identified two behavioral changes

Realizing that “spinning” her woundedness was counterproductive, I began to help her narrow down the outcome she specifically wanted to achieve via questions. We then scaled her current attempts and of course, they were quite low. After affirming her ability to know exactly what she wanted in her relationship to her daughter, we worked on what it would take to get her two or three points higher on the scale. She identified two behavioral changes on her part that would move her up the scale.


The patient’s best hope was that her daughter could sit down with her and share fun topics as they had done before their conflict started. She wanted to be a blessing to her daughter, not a burden.


After summing up the patient’s work during the session, her affect brightened considerably. In summary, Solution Focused Coaching has made me a better chaplain, particularly with patients who feel “stuck.”



Dr. David Martin

Spiritual Director, LifeLine Chaplaincy



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