What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

All professional chaplains, as well as many clergy, religious leaders, seminary students and pastoral counselors, participate in internships in various settings – such as in hospitals, clinics, hospices, psychiatric and community care facilities, workplace settings, geriatric and rehabilitation centers, and in congregational and parish-based settings – to receive training known as Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

CPE is interfaith, professional education for ministry in a clinical setting.  CPE programs are offered to qualified persons without regard to race, gender, gender identity, ethnic or religious group or sexual orientation.

CPE is an experience in process education that brings students into supervised encounters with persons in crisis (patients, their family members and staff). Out of intense involvement with persons in need, reflection on the interaction, and feedback from peers and supervisors, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and as professionals (pastoral identity), as well as of the needs of those to whom they offer spiritual care, and learn new skills for offering spiritual care to others (pastoral competence). Working as a member of the interdisciplinary team, CPE students develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships.

CPE learning is relational.  Through individual and group supervision, students have the opportunity to explore relational styles and learn to give and receive feedback.  Students learn about themselves, others, their religious/spiritual beliefs, and the practice of spiritual care from their shared experience with patients, staff and one another. 

Using the CPE process of action and reflection (the clinical method of learning), students are encouraged to articulate the meaning and purpose of their experience as spiritual care givers, and to integrate new awareness and understanding into their ongoing pastoral practice.

To find out more about Clinical Pastoral Education, please visit the ACPE website.

Cedars-Sinai ACPE Certified CPE™ Center is accredited to offer Level I, Level II and Certified Educator CPE by the ACPE, 1 W. Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030. Phone: 404-320-1472, fax: 404-320-0849, email: acpe@acpe.edu.