People with chronic illnesses and functional limitations may face a lifetime of changes and adjustments. Often, the onset of a long-term illness or disease requires a person to rethink values and develop new coping strategies in order to adapt to a life-changing event. At such times, people may draw on sources of spiritual support, finding comfort from a pastor or other clergy. This article describes key roles taken by the clergy who provide these services.
Patients discharged from inpatient rehabilitation units have reported using faith and prayer as effective coping strategies. Religious faith can have a positive influence on emotions and may be directly related to improved functional ability. Disciplines of faith, such as solitude, silence, and meditation, may promote mental health. Although this article presents information from a Christian church perspective, readers should note that services should be considered from a wide range of spiritual representatives.