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Adult Complaints Guide – An Exploration

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‘No man is an island entire of itself, every man a piece of the continent’ so John Donne1 reminds us. Human beings need others, communities, in order to thrive. We all seek encounters for personal growth and wellbeing, encounters that are governed by rules of engagement and boundaries that challenge us to learn to negotiate our needs together with others. Relationships are often fraught with difficulties, that call us to develop skills of conflict management, forgiveness, and how to live side-by-side. A pastoral relationship is a specific type of encounter between a minister, priest or religious, and a person seeking help. From the outset, the interpersonal encounter in the pastoral relationship is characterised not just by a power differential, but also by an unspoken yet assumed trust. When rules are misunderstood or overlooked a breakdown of trust can follow, resulting in an unhappy experience, as well as damage to a person’s faith and religious belief. Further, if not adequately addressed, either by the minister in question or the church authority handling a complaint, resolution can prove protracted and unsatisfactory for all parties involved.

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