First you read your verbatim aloud to your fellow chaplains and supervisor.
In Clinical Pastoral Education, a verbatim is a written recollection of a visit you had with a patient and/or family. You outline what your goals are; the dialogue of the visit itself; how long it was; your analysis of it; and theological implications you discovered.
Then a brief period of silence usually follows. Then the shrapnel comes.
I’m being overly dramatic, but maybe not by much.
“Why did you do that? Why didn’t you deal with the other thing?”
The person giving the verbatim can speak back and offer defense or critique of the other person, but generally it’s the presenter’s turn in the hot seat.
So far this year, I’ve done two of these. There are four of us in my program so I take my turn once a month. (After which time I realize how much I suck and walk out of the room in a disoriented haze.)
However, if this exercise were merely about beating one another up, I’d have more objections. It’s not. The point is to find the “learning places” where you can develop more fully and deeply in the art of caring for people.
For instance, one of my learning place is engaging with patients and families when I myself feel vulnerable. If I can’t run out of the room, then I can disengage inwardly. Sometimes what’s before me is just too much and yet I still have to find a way to offer care. It takes my colleagues and supervisor to point out these blind spots, when I can’t see them for myself.
The larger picture for me, in my shortcomings and foibles, is that somehow it all works. I have to trust that it does, even when I sputter through my words or forget to say “Amen” at the end of prayer or if I trip while walking down the hall.
Meanwhile if you see my skin falling off my body, give me a pat on the head, and offer me a bowl of milk or some kibbles. Thank you.