Chaplain and counselling

Counsel from the ChaplainAnyone, from any constituency of the College is welcome to see the Chaplain, Revd Dr Andrew Teal - please phone (01865 286276 or 0759 500 3189) or email andrew.teal@pmb.ox.ac.uk for an appointment. 

Many of the meetings are occasiona, prompted by a meeting in the Quad or Farthings, and may be prompted by a desire to reflect upon a particular issue or crisis. People are welcome to grab the moment and just let something out or share it.  These meetings are predominantly problem-centred, though there has to be a foundation of trust. I try to make it clear that I won’t refer to it again outside of that meeting, but of course the person seeing me is welcome to do so in the future if and when they need to.

In practice the vast majority of meetings are not about faith or religion, though when they are, the point is the same as below: not to offer a pre-packaged solution, but to be present and accompany someone as they explore things with their own integrity.

Very rarely people ask for ‘Spiritual Direction’ – a longer term project – there are about 12 people doing this – It sounds spooky but is mentoring in an appropriate way alongside someone’s religious explorations.

Axioms for pastoral care from the chaplain:

  • Helping students and staff at times when they need a safe space
  • Articulating boundaries of confidentiality
  • Highlighting other avenues, including the Nurse (Sarah Dragonetti), peer supporters, Staff welfare Officer (Lynn Wilkinson), Fellows with responsibility for welfare (Eamonn Molloy & Linda Flores)
  • Inviting coordination only if it helps and only if asked

Someone coming to the chaplain can expect:

  • To be listened to
  • Respect and dignity
  • Interventions to clarify
  • Speaking back / asking why
  • Building sufficient trust to encourage the person to find the proper answer for their issues
  • Support as they live this out / seek further help as they make changes

It is imperative with pastoral care and psychology that the counsellor be themselves under supervision: this will not be a breach of confidentiality, although the impact of some issues upon the listener, properly anonymized, may be shared with the their supervisor on occasion. The chaplain undertakes regular supervision outside the college and university.