A Reflection on Empowerment through Spirituality

Relationships between Disabled Individuals and their Assistants Explored in the Process of Renewing a Spiritual Guidebook in Finland


  • Ikali Karvinen University of Eastern Finland and Finn Church Aid
  • Sinikka Winqvist The Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities
  • Varpu Lipponen Private practitioner




spirituality, Empowerment, Mental health, Assistant


This article provides a reflection upon empowerment through spirituality. It presents the way in which the updating process of a spiritual guidebook was taken forward in Finland. The original guidebook, which was meant to be used in hospitals by healthcare professionals and chaplains, was published in 1996. At one point, it became evident that the original guidebook no longer correlated with the changing realities of Finnish society. At the time that the guidebook was originally published, Finnish society was rather homogenous and Christianity dominated the discourse. Nowadays, society has become more pluralistic and the discourse has become more enriched. The Nordic healthcare system increasingly includes people from diverse religious groups. The project to update the guidebook, which ran from 2014 to 2020, aimed to give social and healthcare professionals working in a variety of settings an easy way to update their knowledge on providing spiritual care. The primary objective of the project was to renew and update the guidebook to better match the contemporary spiritual landscape of Finland. The project had several stages. In the first phase, master’s degree students conducted thesis research to produce new information and evidence for the process. In the second phase, data from the two theses were synthesized and analyzed, and the results were used to update the guidebook. The revised guidebook was ready to go to press in March 2020. In this article, we provide insights into the project, and reflect on our own understanding of the role of spirituality in our society and in healthcare based on the work of one of the master’s theses. The master’s thesis discovers relationships between disabled individuals and their assistants, and suggests changes to the guidebook through widening the horizon of spirituality in the caring relationship.

Author Biographies

Ikali Karvinen, University of Eastern Finland and Finn Church Aid

Dr. Ikali Karvinen holds a PhD in Health Sciences. He is currently a Country Director of Finn Church Aid (FCA) Somalia Country Office and undertakes academic activities in collaboration with Finnish academic institutions by conducting research and supervising PhD candidates. Dr. Karvinen coordinates FCA’s Research Coordination Group. Dr. Karvinen has specialized in spirituality in health care, and his own doctoral thesis concerned spiritual health.

Sinikka Winqvist, The Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities

Ms. Winqvist, Master of Social Services, is a Specialist at The Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities with over 20 years of experience in various specialist roles.

Varpu Lipponen, Private practitioner

Dr. Varpu Lipponen holds a PhD in Health Sciences and a MA in Philosophy. She is an Emerita Principal Lecturer from Tampere University of Applied Sciences and nowadays a private psychotherapist. She also undertakes academic activities and supervises PhD candidates. Dr. Lipponen has specialized in palliative care and her own doctoral thesis is based on this. In addition, she has extended her specialty to spirituality in health care.


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How to Cite

Karvinen, I., Winqvist, S., & Lipponen, V. (2022). A Reflection on Empowerment through Spirituality: Relationships between Disabled Individuals and their Assistants Explored in the Process of Renewing a Spiritual Guidebook in Finland. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 10(2), 185–194. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.20190