CPE Today

CPE is an action-reflection method of learning pastoral practice under supervision which:

  • integrates pastoral work and theology, with relevant medical, psychological and behavioural sciences
  • engages participants in reflection about what happens before their eyes
  • develops better pastoral relationships by bringing together personal experience, spirituality and theology
  • is professional education for ministry, designed to establish and improve ministry practice

The goal of CPE is to assist participants, using an experiential learning approach, to begin (or enhance) the development of their personhood and the skills of pastoral care. This includes beginning to understand, or to consolidate and expand, the connections between their experiences in life, ministry, faith and theology.

Participants on a CPE course will:

  • become aware of their inner self-thoughts, feelings and beliefs and how these combine to make them function in the way they do
  • become aware of themselves as ministers and of the ways that their ministry affects people
  • become aware of how their attitudes, values and assumptions inform their ministry
  • begin (or enhance) the development of skills in pastoral care, especially the ability to interact with people out of grace rather than judgement
  • embody God's presence and love, by interacting with people in a caring, graceful and forgiving manner
  • acquire an understanding of, and the ability to use the experiential method of learning, including the ability to report and reflect on their acts of ministry
  • develop the ability to use a peer group for support, confrontation and clarification in a way that will assist in integrating personal attributes and pastoral functioning
  • develop the ability to use supervision for personal and professional growth, and to develop the capacity to evaluate their ministry
  • engage in theological reflection upon issues that arise from their pastoral experiences
  • begin to understand ministry and its relationship to other helping professions
  • acquire a level of self-knowledge, such that pastoral care can be offered within the strengths and limitations of the participant's own person. This includes:
    • realistic awareness of personal strengths and limitations
    • awareness of personal process in relating to persons in crisis
    • achievement of a satisfactory level of congruence between personal and professional selves
  • demonstrate the ability to effectively use a variety of religious resources appropriate to specific pastoral situations
  • integrate theological and human science perspectives in pastoral situations
  • give evidence of personal integrity and high ethical standards in personal and professional relationships with colleagues and 'clients'
  • function effectively among other professionals in such areas as:
    • making and receiving referrals
    • providing consultation when questions of religious faith and practice require expert interpretation
    • having a realistic understanding of the distinctive perspectives of major helping professions

Participants in a second or third CPE course will engage in the same process to extend their pastoral competence, often in a specific area. They will further develop a professional level of competence in pastoral ministry that is based in an awareness of their personal and pastoral identity and a clear understanding of the theological dimensions of their pastoral ministry.