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Calling All Buddhist Chaplains

May 6, 2017

‘Medicine Buddha’ by Gabby Altenberger via

Dear Buddhist chaplains, interns, and students,

I need your insight, compassion, and a little bit of your time for my dissertation research. Please take a moment to read this very dry description of my research project below. It’s actually much more exciting than it sounds, I promise. Please contact me if you have questions or want to participate.

If you are not a Buddhist chaplain, but know someone who is, please share this post. Please share it broadly with non-Buddhist chaplains working in various settings, as they might know some Buddhist chaplains.

Thank you from the bottom of this scholar’s heart,


Information Sheet for Research Study Participants

The Practice of Dharma Reflection among Buddhist Chaplains: A Qualitative Study of ‘Theological’ Activity among Non-Theocentric Spiritual Caregivers

Primary Investigator: Rev. Monica Sanford, PhD candidate

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Duane Bidwell, Claremont School of Theology


The purpose of this research study is to examine how Buddhist chaplains and chaplain interns practice reflection in relation to spiritual care to answer the following questions:

  1. What ‘theological’ methods or processes are used by Buddhist chaplains and chaplain interns when reflecting on the Dharma in relation to their practice of spiritual care? How are these methods/processes similar to or distinct from methods of theological reflection employed by Christian and other theocentric chaplains?
  2. What sources of Dharma are used or privileged during the process of reflection? (i.e. sutras/suttas, books, teachers/teachings, and other sources beyond direct experience)
  3. What is the relationship between one’s own experience as a chaplain or chaplain intern and one’s understanding of the Dharma and how is it articulated?
  4. How does the practice of reflection on the Dharma and their own experience change their practice of spiritual care? In other words, what interventions do Buddhist chaplains and chaplain interns develop as a result of their reflective practices and what effects do they have?

This study will result in an interpretive description of how Buddhist chaplains currently practice reflection, along with implications for further education and training for Buddhist chaplains and for how Buddhist chaplains interact with non-Buddhist CPE supervisors and fellow spiritual caregivers.


You are eligible to participate in this study if:

  1. You are Buddhist, belong to a Buddhist order or lineage, OR identify as multi-religious including Buddhist
  2. You are enrolled in or have completed an MDiv degree at University of the West, Naropa University, the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Harvard Divinity School, OR Claremont School of Theology
  3. You have completed OR are currently enrolled in a CPE program during the study period (May-Aug 2017)

Your Participation

Total time to participate in the study will be between three and five hours over three months. The study will consist of a demographic questionnaire, at least one interview either in person or via an online video conference lasting no more than 90 minutes, and submission of a written reflection sample of one to three pages in length. A follow up interview of no more than 60 minutes in length may be requested to clarify statements in the original interview or written reflection sample. All interviews will be recorded and transcribed. You will not be paid. You will receive a copy of the final results. All data collected from participants will remain confidential and will be anonymized in final reports.


Please contact Rev. Monica Sanford (monica.sanford[at] ) if you would like to participate. You must return a signed Informed Consent before participation can begin.

Replace [at] with @ in the email above to make an address. This is a precaution against spam.

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