put the
pieces together
What Is Clinical Pastoral Education?
• CPE is hands-on professional education for ministry.
• It brings theological students/clergy/lay ministers of all
faiths/denominations into a common group experience.
• CPE participants have direct contact with people at a
point of need. They then receive feedback from peers
and teachers to;
Increase self-awareness
Develop/sharpen active listening skills
Improve pastoral relationships
Expand critical thinking skills
Function on an inter-disciplinary team
Integrate personal history into care for others
1925 Rev. Anton Boisen, a Presbyterian minister/chaplain, begins clinical training of
theological students at Worcester State Hospital where he had been a patient
on several occasions. He came to be known as the “father of CPE.”
1925 Dr. Richard Cabot, part of the Emmanuel Movement, writes article, ‘A Clinical
Year for Theological Students.’ In the 30’s he made joint patient rounds with
Rev. Russell Dicks at Mass General.
 1930 Council for Clinical Training of Theological Students formed
 1938 ‘Institute of Pastoral Care’ established by Cabot in Boston continues with
focus on case study experiential learning process.
‘Council for Clinical Training’ started by Dunbar in NYC makes steady
progress with similar program.
 1944 First national conference held bringing together both groups
 1967
 1993
Association for Clinical Pastoral Education is formed. The standards for
certification of Supervisors and accreditation of Centers for training begins to
take shape.
CPE added to Chaplain coverage at PHS. Only program in NM
How does it work?
A unit of CPE is a minimum of 400 hours, 300
clinical, 100 classroom.
Available programs often include;
* P-T extended, 6-9 month program
* F-T summer, 3 month program
* F-T residency, 12 month – 4 units
If I apply, interview and am accepted
into a program, what can I expect?
Common Curriculum Items
 Learning Contract – This is 3-5 specific goals established by the CPE
participant in consultation with her/his Supervisor. These goals facilitate
progress with the primary focus areas of the CPE learning objectives.
Pastoral Formation – the focus is upon development of personal
and pastoral identity/authority, with an emphasize on self-awareness. This
involves relationship to people in crisis, CPE Supervisor, staff, peer group
members and the institutional setting.
Pastoral Competence – the focus is upon development of pastoral
function. This includes acquisition of pastoral skills along with the ability to
articulate one’s integration of theology and the behavioral sciences in one’s
ministry practice.
Pastoral Reflection – the focus is upon developing the capacity to
self-direct and self-evaluate one’s ministry practice.
Other Curriculum Items
 Verbatim/Case Study Accounts are at the heart of the CPE method of learning.
These are written reports of actual visits with patients, families and/or staff.
 Didactics provide CPE participants the opportunity to interact with informational
material in a classroom format. These sessions are often led by the CPE Supervisor or
by a professional with some expertise in a particular field.
 Interpersonal Relationship Group (IPR) The CPE Supervisor facilitates a regular
open agenda session with CPE participants to process issues that arise out of the
learning experience. The group members are encouraged to seek support, clarification
and engage in confrontation with one another during this time.
 Feelings Journal is a weekly, one page document that facilitates the sharing of
emotional high and low points of your journey.
Additional Items
 Theological reflection – The intentional practice of engaging CPE participants in
connecting ministry encounters to foundational truths of her/his theological tradition.
This often includes exploration of themes, metaphors and faith related practice. One of
the ongoing tensions in pastoral care occurs between theology and psychology.
Theological reflection is one attempt to integrate the two. When experience and tradition
meet, theological reflection may confirm, challenge, clarify, and expand how one
understands the experience and how one understands religious tradition.
 Individual supervision provides a regularly scheduled time for the CPE participant
and CPE supervisor to conjointly identify learning issues, psychological patterns,
personal and professional development, and pastoral competence. The CPE participant
is strongly encouraged to exercise initiative for personal growth.
 Participant and Supervisor evaluations seek to encapsulate what learning did or
did not take place for each CPE participant. The participant writes a final evaluation at
the end of each unit (400 hours) as does the CPE Supervisor.
 The clinical method of learning begins
with a concrete ministry experience. It
moves to a place of intra/inter personal
reflection to identify strength/growth
areas. The Chaplain then returns to the
clinical setting to apply new awareness to
another concrete experience. This process
helps facilitate the integration of theory
and practice.
Focus Points in CPE
CPE reinforces the art of active listening. This involves the development of a sharpened
ability to practice hospitality, read a room/patient, make observations, ask inviting open-ended
questions, hear the expressed/unexpressed feeling contained in conversational content and to
respond with appropriate empathy.
CPE encourages the cultivation of a ministry of presence. The person in the role of Chaplain
represents the “non-anxious” presence of God in the room. The emphasis is on learning to
practice an inter-faith coming “alongside” ministry and utilizing the productive aspects of
CPE participants learn the skill of making a spiritual assessment. This includes a wide variety
of variables including; psycho/social/spiritual needs, values, religious preference, age and
cultural appropriate issues for the individual/group we serve.
CPE facilitates growth as a pastoral professional within an environment of a multitude of
other professionals. Each participant has the opportunity to clarify the uniqueness of our
discipline and strengthen individual pastoral identity/authority. An element of this focus is
building an intentional tool box of pastoral intervention possibilities.
Roots of the Approach
“I have sought to begin not with the readymade formulations contained in books but with
the living human documents and with actual
social conditions in all their complexity.”
Anton Boisen
Case Study
Mrs. Carlson
What do we know about Mrs. Carlson/Chaplain?
What questions does this interaction raise for you?
What feelings are you aware of in this interaction?
What do you see as the primary needs of Mrs. Carlson on this day?
What are the theological/spiritual care issues for the Chaplain/Mrs. Carlson?
Where do you see the Chaplain’s strongest work?
Where do you see potential growth for the Chaplain?
What other options might the Chaplain have attempted?
How do you evaluate the results?
What future goals might the Chaplain have for a future visit?
Additional Resources