Welcome to the Future of Spiritual Care in Philippines

Spiritual Care Association in Philippines
an affiliate of Spiritual Care Association
Dr. Maria Theresita Escandor-Sobremisana
Vanderpol Center for Leadership and Pastoral Formation, Inc
Unit 1904 Antel Global Corporate Building
Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas Center
1605 Pasig City, Philippines
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Maria Theresita Escandor

One of the affiliates of Spiritual Care Association in Asia is Dr. Maria Theresita Escandor. Among her students, patients, clients, and colleagues in the Philippines, she is also called by her nickname, Dr. Tootsie.

Dr. Tootsie is a Board Certified Clinical Chaplain and Spiritual Care Practitioner by the Center for Spiritual Care and Pastoral Formation (CSCPF). She earned her Master of Divinity degree in Pastoral Care in 1991 at the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in the Philippines. In 2016, she was conferred the degree of Doctor of Psychology through the joint program of the Institute of Psychodynamic Pastoral Supervision based in North Carolina and the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana, both in the USA.

Dr. Tootsie’s life’s calling is in Pastoral Care, Counselling and Psychotherapy work. There is nothing that she is more enthusiastic about and that gives her so much life than when she is working with patients, clients, and groups in therapy. Her practice is enriched by decades of life experience in different fields such as church pastorate, ministry leadership, community development, local governance, and corporate management. Since 2010, she started to focus more on Pastoral Counselling and Clinical Chaplaincy work. She consequently took additional CPE units in order to earn her board certification. Desiring to impart to others how her own life was transformed through the CPE program and to be an empowering force for those with a similar calling, Dr. Tootsie started training to become a CPE supervisor in 2012. She worked to further deepen her group supervision competencies by pursuing her doctorate degree in 2013. This she did while working, training, studying, and being a single mom. To date, Dr. Tootsie has journeyed with so many CPE interns since 2013 coming from different areas of profession, vocation, ministry and faith groups. Through the CPE offerings, she has worked with priests, pastors, missionaries, clinical chaplains, pastoral counsellors, social workers, psychologists, guidance counsellors, policemen, military servicemen, jail wardens, teachers, company administrators/managers, and business leaders.

Desiring to take it a step further and advocate for the professionalization of Clinical Chaplaincy, Pastoral Counselling, and Spiritual Care in various settings as well as to promote integrated/holistic patient care in the Philippines, Dr. Tootsie co-founded Vanderpol Center for Leadership and Pastoral Formation, Inc. in 2014 as a non-profit organization. Those who benefited from CPE trainings under Dr. Tootsie and saw the value in advocating for integrated patient care and the professionalization of the practice in the Philippines joined Dr. Tootsie to jumpstart the Vanderpol Center.

Today, Vanderpol Center has four program areas. First of this is the CPE program and certification process, which is offered under the accreditation of the CSCPF in the USA. Vanderpol Center offers two cycles of CPE in a year—from February to May and from August to November. Both intensive and extensive modules are available to cater to the different work paces and availability of the interns. Vanderpol Center has also started to use video calling/conferencing to offer hybrid CPE groups with both on-site and online interns to make the program more available to those that are in farther areas or in other parts of Asia.

The second program offered by Vanderpol Center is its Leadership and Executive Coaching services. One of the regular events organized by Vanderpol under this program is the annual retreat for Pastoral and Spiritual Caregivers. It is meant not only to bring practitioners together to be establish connections, but to also create a sacred space for authentic sharing and community building. Education and therapeutic recreational activities are also offered during these retreats. Several times in a year, Vanderpol Center also conducts seminars and workshops on various topics under the mental health, psychology, spiritual care, and leadership themes. A significant number of these seminars are institution-based; among the institutions in the Philippines that Dr. Tootsie and her Vanderpol Center cohorts has conducted seminars for are schools, businesses, faith denominations like the Cooperative Baptist Association of the Philippines, hospitals such as the Philippine Children’s Medical Center and the Philippine Heart Center, other non-profit organizations like Compassion International, and government institutions, and agencies like the Philippine National Police, Presidential Security Group, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. Aside from institution-based seminars, Dr. Tootsie and her team also organize public seminars typically attended by people from different church-based ministries, other government agencies, medical professionals, volunteers, chaplains, and counsellors. Another area that Vanderpol Center is developing under this program would be its offerings promotion workplace wellness or advocating for mental health awareness and services in business organizations and promoting the need for paid Corporate Chaplains on-site to facilitate these service to address organizational needs such as conflict management, performance management, and stress management.

The third program offered by Vanderpol Center is its outreach arm through the Project Bless Ministry. Through the loving donations of private individuals from the Philippines and abroad, Vanderpol Center is long-term outreach projects like scholarship funds, parenting seminars in rural areas, and daily feeding and Early Childhood Development programs for indigent children. Currently, Vanderpol has two main outreach sites in the Philippines.

The fourth area is a work in progress. Building on their success, Dr. Tootsie and her core group’s vision for Vanderpol Center is for the organization to become Asia’s first training institution for Clinical Chaplaincy, Pastoral Counseling, Spiritual Care, Psychodynamic Pastoral Supervision, Psychotherapy, and Transformational Leadership. The organization also envisions to be a key player in mental health advocacy and in providing quality, holistic, and contextualised counselling, spiritual care, and therapy services for children, youth, and adults. Vanderpol Center is committed to continuously actualizing this vision and in the process, it has partnered with the Spiritual Care Association to build on the evidence-based and standards-based approach to Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care. Dr. Tootsie is also in the process of working out a partnership with the SCA-University of Theology and Spirituality in order to establish its first campus in Asia. The goal is to cater to students and professionals in this region and to offer advanced degrees in this specialized ministry, becoming the first training institution in Asia offering education in Spiritual Care, Spiritual Direction, Clinical Chaplaincy, Clinical Pastoral Psychotherapy and theological degrees like Master of Divinity, Religious Education, and Progressive Christianity.