Martin van den Bergh
Martin van den Bergh
incorporating Yiftach Consultants & Yiftach Net on Pastoral Care


My Approach to Pastoral Care

My approach to Pastoral Care is based my PhD thesis, which was: "A critical examination of patient-centred spiritual care from a Jewish perspective, and its implications for healthcare chaplaincy and spiritual care". I used a conceptual qualitative methodology, and included a small empirical study on patients' views of spirituality and spiritual needs. I reflected on on the capacities needed for chaplains  and lay visitors to engage in patient spiritual care in a paradigm of patient centred care, and demonstrated how my perspective of Jewish Theology and practice can engage in patient spiritual care. This was based on the following premises:


My PhD work emerged from my involvement with the publication of the NHS Chaplaincy Guidance of 2003, and more particularly on its confidentiality clause. This clause resulted from spiritual and religious affiliations as being designated as "sensitive personal data" in the Data Protection Act 1998.
This raised two questions:
a)    whether spiritual care is  a core part of patient care, or dependent on patient choice.
b)    how healthcare chaplaincy  more particularly faith chaplains and spiritual carers can continue to provide patient spiritual care in a negotiated mutual pastoral encounter with patients, and that would meet the terms of the Act. 

I felt there was a need to examine these questions together with the trends of individualisation and secularisations, and in light of the paradigm of patient-centred care, which has been promoted since the NHS Plan of 2000 (1), and the subsequent Plan, to argue that spiritual care should still be  a part of patient care.

My quest began at Leeds University and included interviewing patients who had participated in cardio-rehab courses.

As a result of moving countries several times, I had to change the focus of my research to a Jewish perspective of patient spiritual care, while retaining the core research element with patients.  The outcomes of my work include:
These outcomes, while pertinent for providing patient spiritual care, can also be applicable for supporting people in different scenarios.