The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

Volunteer Disaster Chaplain Training

The School of Theology, in partnership with the National Disaster Interfaiths Network (NDIN), invites clergy and spiritual caregivers of The Episcopal Church and religious leaders of all faiths to take this two-day disaster chaplain training. Participants who complete this certification can volunteer in their own diocese or faith community — or with NDIN or its national partners. NDIN can also assist unaffiliated volunteers in finding disaster spiritual care volunteer opportunities in local communities across the United States. Emergency managers and disaster mental health professionals may also take this course to develop their knowledge of disaster spiritual care best practices.

This two-day training prepares clergy, religious leaders or spiritual care providers to volunteer as disaster chaplains in mass care settings, or to serve as disaster chaplains within their house of worship, religious community or professional institution.

Registration Information

Each registrant must be endorsed for this training (by the senior religious leader who has jurisdiction over their ministry and/or currently serve as a chaplain and/or credentialed religious caregiver or leader). Emergency managers and disaster mental health professionals may register using their agency affiliation.

Attendance is limited to 35 participants


Tuition is $345, paid in advance — two CEUs available by request
(Continental breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack and training materials included)

This course is compliant with National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) and incorporates FEMA Incident Command System (FEMA IS 100) training. It also complies with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) Points of Consensus for Disaster Spiritual Care.

Course Curriculum

Operations & spiritual care: General principles; interventions; sites and specifics

  • Emotional and spiritual phases of the disaster "life cycle"
  • Spiritual first aid:  Presence, Connect, Assessment, Intervention, Develop Plan of Care (PCAID) as an intervention appropriate in any phase of a disaster
  • Disaster human services operations and disaster site operations
  • Practice in applying principles of spiritual and emotional care in various disaster scenarios

Mental health: Introduction; impact of disaster; response and reaction

  • Phases of psychological reaction to disaster and impact on behaviors, thoughts, & feelings
  • Psychological First Aid as a basic intervention that does not require professional training
  • Indicators that referrals for professional mental health care may be appropriate

Self-care: The need and techniques; individual and community resilience

  • The need for caregivers to develop effective self-care practices
  • Practices that minimize compassion fatigue ("the cost of caring") and other stresses related to providing care in times of crisis
  • Strategies to promote recovery and resiliency, especially through support systems that monitor, nourish and maintain self-care for individuals and communities


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