Chaplaincy is Transdisciplinary

Chaplaincy can be characterized by its focus on creative responses to difficult questions. This requires us to transcend specialized knowledge and engage multiple levels and angles of a careseekers’s issue or crisis. By letting knowledge and skills based disciplines engage without restraint, chaplaincy can discover hidden connections between disparate topics.

Our Story

We chaplains all have our routines, our prayers, our “go-to interventions.”

A long night with a chaplain who had been at the job for two decades reminded me that sparks are needed to encourage and stimulate the most experienced chaplain.

Jim was in the break room charting and turned to me and said, “My chaplaincy feels like a box of stale crackers, I  am not getting any energy to try things differently. I think I am missing things sometimes because I am not taking any new intellectual risks”

There was one experience that made it clear that we needed the Treehouse.

As a CPE Educator working with residents in a major urban hospital, two staff chaplains asked to join a conversation at lunch about creating symbolic bedside activities for patients that help them express suffering.

The prompt was to look at an empty glass as your life and fill it with water that represents the amount of suffering you have experienced. Everyone did it, shared how they defined suffering, poured some back in when they heard others stories, explored the social cultural issues, and then talked about what they were going to do with it now that they see it. The staff chaplains asked for a weekly lunch where we all created symbolic exercises for care.

It was then that I knew we needed to play, create and share across disciplines and break the chaplain silos.

Karen Hutt

Rev. Karen Hutt

MEet The Team

Treehouse Friends

Chaplains. Educators. Innovators.

Judith, a chaplain.
Judith R. Ragsdale, Ph.D.

Judith is a qualitative researcher with a background as a Clinical Pastoral Education Certified Educator. She is an Associate Professor Emerita with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She is currently leading a study exploring how leaders and members of different traditions are guided by their beliefs and practices in times of serious illness. She received one of the first ACPE Innovation in Spiritual Care and Research grants to carry out the study, Expanding Chaplain Competencies. 

Kirstin, a chaplain
Rev. Dr. Kirstin C. Boswell

Kirstin is the University Chaplain and Dean of Multifaith Engagement at Elon University. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Prior to this appointment, she served as Associate Dean of Student Support Services and Associate Chaplain at Brown University, the Chaplain to the Institute and Director of the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Director of Operations for The International Association of Black Religions and Spiritualities, at the University of Chicago. Rev. Dr. Boswell is an American Baptist clergy woman , and has served in congregational ministry for almost two decades.

Michael, a chaplain.
Rev. Michael Le Buhn Jr.

Michael serves as the Manager of Spiritual Care for Allina Health. He is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and received his Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). Michael previously worked as a chaplain at Open Table Nashville, a non-profit that serves people experiencing homelessness. Michael is a veteran of the United States Army and former Soldier of the Year for the White House Military Office. His awards and decorations include a Purple Heart, a Combat Action Badge, and a Presidential Service Badge.

Our Core Beliefs

Chaplaincy is so much more than theology.

We need to embrace multiple disciplines and draw on diverse resources to spark our imaginations for those we serve.

We need to embrace the power of a transdisciplinary approach to our discipline. When we sit with a careseeker the question we are asking is “What’s going on?” The disciplines of the humanities can offer multiple entry points for that question to be explored.

Hand holding paint brush.

We believe that the humanities provide critical methods of inquiry for chaplaincy to appreciate the complexity of being human and the unique ability of the human spirit to express itself.

A woman about to drop into a skatepark on a skateboard.

We believe that spiritual concerns need to be contextualized to fully assess human emotion, beliefs, motivations and approaches to living.

Candles in various colors of candle bags

We believe that the humanities have historical modes of interpretation that frame intersectionality to inform chaplains about the path an individual has been on, current postures in their lives and assessment options for future care.

A birds eye view of a highway intersection.