Exploring the Chaplain's use of "Holy Listening Stones" in Pre-transplant Evaluations Cassidy Wohlfarth, Master of Divinity, Children's Health
Multidisciplinary pre-transplant evaluations by members of both the medical and psychosocial teams are common in transplant centers across America. However, the participation of a chaplain in the pre-transplant evaluation process is rare. At Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the role of the chaplain on the transplant team is well established. The relationship between the patient, family, and chaplain often begins with the pre-transplant evaluation. The purpose of this poster is to explore the intersection of religion and medicine through the role of the chaplain in pre-transplant evaluations and the use of “Holy Listening Stones” as an interfaith tool during these visits. “Holy Listening Stones,” created by Reverend Leanne Hadley, have been regularly utilized in pre-transplant evaluations by chaplains at our center.
Two case examples of pediatric patients and their families who were evaluated for transplant with the use of “Holy Listening Stones” are explored in this poster. “Holy Listening Stones” are a set of 28 small stones, each with a unique symbol hand-drawn on the surface. The symbols have no prescribed name or meaning, rather individuals create meaning for themselves. For example, a symbol that consists of two straight lines crossing one another has been interpreted as a cross representing religion, an X representing the place of a treasure on a map, or as a representation of a negative outcome or emotion. The set of stones is presented to the patient and family as an activity that creates space for them to share their story. Examples include “I wonder which stone or stones might tell me more about your relationship with God or a transcendent power?”; “I wonder which stones show how you feel about transplant?”; “I wonder which ones might describe something you’re looking forward to?” After participants select their stones, they are invited to describe and name why they chose each stone. The chaplain listens and responds to each participant by acknowledging their interpretation and process of meaning-making.
“Holy Listening Stones” have been utilized by the chaplains in this setting for approximately two years and have resulted in an increased ability for the chaplain to hear the patient’s story. Presenting patients and families with this tangible task and set of symbols to choose from gives them the ability to better name where they are emotionally and spiritually. Often these visits yield information about a family’s readiness for transplant and allows them to process the information they are receiving throughout the evaluations.
This information gathered by the chaplain is valuable to the interdisciplinary team because it offers another perspective of who the family is and where they’re at. It can also reveal opportunities to further support the patient and family. The chaplain's visit provides a space where the patient and family are free to explore and express their hopes, fears, and feelings regarding their diagnosis, potential transplant, and how it alters their future story. Pediatric chaplains working with potential transplant patients and families play a key role in providing space for the expression of their thoughts, feelings, spirituality, and story.