Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare began utilizing compassion training in 2015 when all eight of our ACPE Educators collectively enrolled in Emory University’s CBCT® Foundation Course. CBCT – Cognitively-Based Compassion Training – is a rigorously researched protocol for cultivating compassion via meditative exercises. After taking this course as a group, it became clear to us that this modality, rooted in contemplative practice, was a course that we wanted to integrate into our residency curriculum to help support reflection, resiliency, and spiritual health best practices in our ACPE education program and in our hospital system culture.
In 2016, we partnered with the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics which developed and houses the CBCT program at Emory. This collaborative effort is Compassion-Centered Spiritual Health (CCSH). Through this collaboration we began providing the CBCT Foundations course to chaplain residents and have recently completed our fourth cohort. After each course we then provide ongoing follow-up meetings with the residents to support the integration of these concepts and exercises into their residency.
Central to our development is researching how we incorporate this training in our residency curriculum. Along with our Certified Educators and in association with our Executive Director, George H. Grant, PhD, our research team consists of the Director of Research Charles Raison, MD, and Jennifer Mascaro, PhD, who leads the investigations as Assistant Professor at the School of Medicine. A strong recent addition to our team is Patricia Kim Palmer, MDiv, BCC, a former chaplain resident. Kim was one of the recipients of the Transforming Chaplaincy scholarship, completed her MSPH in epidemiology in 2018, and is now the Manager of Research Projects. We continue to work hand in hand with Professor Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, developer of CBCT, and Timothy Harrison, Associate Director for CBCT, at the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics.
As our understanding of the power and promise of the training has taken hold, we embarked in 2017 on the development of a compassion-centered intervention (CCSHi) based on the practices and concepts of CBCT. Thus, in addition to researching CBCT’s impact on our chaplain residents, we are training a manualized approach and conducting outcomes research in our inpatient and outpatient populations using this innovative approach.
We are excited to share our learning and the training in CCSH as well as the accompanying interventions for patient care response and, eventually, for staff-support which we consider a future area of research. We look forward to our ongoing learning as well as exploring how to bring CCSH, the CCSHi Intervention training, and the CBCT Foundation courses forward to ACPE and to our strategic partners in spiritual care.