Beginnings

CPE began in 1925 when Richard Cabot, a physician and Christian layperson, introduced a fresh way of training theological students drawing on teaching methods used in medical education.

In the same year the Reverend Anton Boisen, who himself had experienced several periods of hospitalisation, began to refine this initiative into an educational process, including a case-study method of theological inquiry. He was chaplain at an USA hospital where, with the encouragement of several people including Cabot, the first group of theological students underwent ‘supervised’ clinical pastoral education.

Amongst the first four students that Boisen recruited was a woman called Helen Flanders Dunbar. She spent a month in that 1925 course doing research, returned to CPE in 1927, and then became an influential leader within CPE for more than a decade.

This group of four students worked during their summer vacation in the psychiatric hospital as orderlies. Each evening, Boisen and the students would meet together to talk about their experiences and what they had observed as they worked with very disturbed patients.

Richard Cabot
Anton Boisen
Helen Flanders Dunbar

Boisen wanted to discover whether “many forms of insanity” might not be “religious rather than medical in nature.” From his perspective, it was not sufficient that persons who were mentally ill should be treated in, what we would today call, a ‘biological way’.  He believed, in the language of the time, that in order to help troubled people, the Church had to develop “physicians of the soul.”

The students were required to write up ‘clinical case studies’ prompting them to think very fully about the “living human documents” with whom they were working. Over time, these ‘case studies’ developed into the written ‘Pastoral Encounter Reviews/Verbatim’ of CPE which direct students towards first-hand living source materials – men and women actually in crisis – rather than toward second-hand statements in textbooks.

CPE has continued to evolve since these first steps in 1925, though the essentials have not changed i.e. an emphasis upon the practical rather than the theoretical; a focus on the “living human documents”; the writing of ‘Pastoral Encounter Reviews/Verbatim’; the desire to help people become more fully integrated in body, mind and spirit – all key aspects of CPE.

 

What is CPE?

Australian and New Zealand
Association of CPE

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is education and formation for the professional work of pastoral/spiritual care. CPE uses an educational methodology that combines knowledge of theology/spirituality (what we believe), with knowledge of education (how we learn), with knowledge of the behavioural sciences (who we are as human beings). CPE’s methodology utilizes the ‘action-reflection’ model of learning. The ‘action’ component entails practical experience in the work of pastoral/spiritual care within a pastoral/spiritual care setting; this care acknowledges and attends to the human condition, particularly life’s spiritual dimensions. The ‘reflection’ component entails the exploration, articulation and integration of the pastoral/spiritual carer’s experience, the dynamics present, and the theological/spiritual implications. This ‘action-reflection’ process is integral to CPE students’/participants’ understanding and the formation of their pastoral/spiritual care identity and competence. CPE encourages learning from living human documents.

The specific content of a CPE Unit will depend upon the particular interests and needs of the students/ participants and the context(s) in which they offer pastoral/spiritual care. The learning process allows for the addressing of the particular learning goals that each student/participant identifies. The process balances the practical experience of pastoral/spiritual care, small group supervision/interaction, and personal individual supervision, in an integrated programme of experiential and theoretical education.

A CPE Unit is a total learning process of at least 400 hours of supervised learning, integrating clinical experience, group and individual supervision, personal and collegial reflection, and directed critical reading and recording.

For each CPE student/participant these 400 hours include AT LEAST:

200 hours  

practicum (i.e. clinical experience in a pastoral/spiritual care placement)

of which at least 100 hours is actual face-to-face pastoral/spiritual care;

the remaining 100 hours may be spent observing others offering pastoral/spiritual care, preparing and delivering pastoral/spiritual rituals/services, debriefing, inter-disciplinary conferring, collegial conferring, self-care following a particularly challenging pastoral/spiritual encounter, writing notes regarding a pastoral/spiritual care encounter (notes that later may be shaped into a full PER), handover, statistical recording etc …

90 hours  

group supervision, and seminars/didactic-presentations (at least 80% attendance)

10 hours

one-to-one supervision (or equivalents)

100 hours  

reading, reflection, and preparation of written/videoed/oral material

A CPE Unit can be completed over a minimum of 10 weeks or a maximum of 44 weeks.

A CPE Unit shall be supervised by at least one Level 2 or 3 (or Provisional Level 2 or 3) Clinical Pastoral Educator.

A CPE Unit student/participant peer group shall consist of no fewer than 3 participants and usually no more than 6 participants.

The clinical context for a student’s practicum needs to be made in dialogue with the CPE Supervisor, as the placement can have a significant impact on a student’s/participant’s learning in a CPE Unit.

Each CPE student/participant is required to prepare in written/visual/oral form AT LEAST:

1

personalised Learning Contract / Learning Goals Statement (mutually acceptable to student/participant and supervisor)

1

description of what their received theology/spirituality teaches about pastoral/spiritual care and how their own spiritual journey impacts the pastoral/spiritual care they offer

9

Pastoral/Spiritual Encounter Reviews (PERs) (or equivalents)

1

Mid-Term Evaluation

1

Final Evaluation

Each CPE student/participant is required to present within the learning group at least 8 of the above 13 written/visual/oral materials for peer and supervisor feedback.

Student/participants may be asked to complete other papers, presentations and learning journals as required.

Foundational CPE

Australian and New Zealand
Association of CPE

Foundational CPE requires of an applicant an awakened level of personal awareness, pastoral/spiritual formation, and professional competency. Further Foundational CPEs build on the awareness, knowledge and competencies achieved in Foundational CPE 1, further bolstering and extending these competencies.

Each Member Association (e.g. NZACPE) shall determine the process by which:

  1. an applicant is granted entry into Foundational CPE study
  2. a student/participant is assessed as having met the following Competencies
  3. a student/participant is acknowledged as being able to demonstrate professional experience and development in each of the following four dimensions of experiential learning (Competencies):

Professional Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. engage in the pastoral/spiritual care of a variety of people with their unique experiences and circumstances, whilst taking into account their individual cultural, spiritual and social backgrounds
  2. listen reflectively
  3. identify a person’s pastoral/spiritual needs and attend appropriately
  4. initiate pastoral/spiritual caring relationships
  5. engage with inter-disciplinary staff
  6. manifest professional resilience
  7. function ethically as a pastoral/spiritual care practitioner

Reflective Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. articulate, evaluate and reflect in writing (or by a means appropriate to the student’s/participant’s culture and language ability) on their pastoral/spiritual care practice and its effect on others
  2. engage in reflective conversation about their pastoral/spiritual care practice with peers and supervisor
  3. articulate how their assumptions, attitudes, values, personal story, strengths and limitations impact or influence their pastoral/spiritual care
  4. reflect upon relationships with peers, supervisors and inter-disciplinary staff, and name the ways these relationships impact on self
  5. use the action-reflection model to evaluate progress towards their goals and objectives
  6. engage in self and peer supervision i.e. the ability to hear, engage and reflect upon the support and feedback offered by the CPE supervisor(s) and/or their peer group
  7. reflect on the ethical considerations associated with pastoral/spiritual care

Informed Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. reflect upon particular encounters and pastoral/spiritual experience within a theological/spiritual framework
  2. reflect upon and evaluate the meaning of their pastoral/spiritual role in relation to their theology/ spirituality and their identity as a pastoral/spiritual carer

Evolving Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. consider and experiment with varied approaches to pastoral/spiritual care
  2. explore how the insights gained from their theological/spiritual reflection regarding their pastoral/spiritual experience can be incorporated into subsequent practice

A student/participant will usually have completed a number of Foundational CPE Units before being considered for Advanced CPE. 

Advanced CPE

Australian and New Zealand
Association of CPE

Advanced CPE requires of an applicant a heightened level of personal awareness, pastoral/spiritual formation, professional competency, and may include the intention to seek professional development in a pastoral/spiritual care specialisation. Advanced CPE builds on all the competencies achieved in an applicant’s preceding Foundational CPEs.

Each Member Association (e.g. NZACPE) shall determine the process by which:

  1. an applicant is granted entry into Advanced CPE study
  2. a student/participant is assessed as having met the following Competencies
  3. a student/participant is acknowledged as being able to demonstrate professional experience and development in each of the following four dimensions of experiential learning (Competencies):

Professional Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. provide written documentation (or by a means appropriate to the student’s/participant’s culture and language ability) of effective pastoral/spiritual care of a variety of people with their unique experiences, whilst taking into account their cultural, spiritual and social backgrounds
  2. offer consistent respect for peoples’ pastoral/spiritual needs through the use of various pastoral/spiritual skills, including attending/listening, empathic reflection, confrontation/conflict resolution, crisis management, and the appropriate use of spiritual resources
  3. assess pastoral/spiritual needs and to provide an effective pastoral/spiritual response (including during critical incidents) whilst maintaining a clear pastoral/spiritual identity
  4. work effectively with multi-disciplinary staff
  5. manage clinical practice and administrative functions in terms of accountability, priority-setting, self-direction, and clear, accurate professional communication
  6. demonstrate a mutual respect for and a working alliance with CPE peers, with pastoral/spiritual care professionals, and/or professionals from other disciplines
  7. identify ethical principles in relation to pastoral/spiritual situations

Reflective Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. evaluate and articulate: a) the quality of pastoral/spiritual care provided; b) relationships with peers, supervisors and professional colleagues; and c) progress towards goals and objectives
  2. engage in self-supervision and peer-supervision within the CPE Unit
  3. identify and articulate a preferred pastoral/spiritual care style, naming the skills used and assessing their appropriateness, and articulate the effect of experimenting with alternative pastoral/spiritual styles and interventions
  4. reflect on the ethical considerations associated with pastoral/spiritual care, and function ethically as a pastoral/spiritual care practitioner

Informed Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. articulate an understanding (whilst referencing theory) of their pastoral/spiritual care role i.e. an understanding that is congruent with their own personal spiritual and cultural values, basic assumptions and personhood, and that is appropriate to a client’s pastoral/spiritual needs
  2. identify general pastoral/spiritual principles from the detail of individual conversations, engagements and case studies
  3. consider and explore particular engagements and, with the insights gained, to be able to affirm, reframe or challenge one’s own existing theological/spiritual understanding
  4. explore and articulate how any particular situation might inform future pastoral/spiritual care practice
  5. engage in group and relational processes (including conflict), and explore the theological/spiritual and conceptual issues arising from these processes

Evolving Practice

Demonstrates the capacity to:

  1. incorporate new learning into subsequent pastoral/spiritual practice and professional relationships, and then to evaluate the impact of this changed practice

consider alternative approaches to pastoral/spiritual care, to use a variety of pastoral/spiritual stances with people, and to develop a range of strategies

Brochure

Download the CPE Brochure by right-clicking and selecting Save Link As, or left-click to view.