About Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

You may find that your chose degree requirements reference something called Clinical Pastoral Education, or CPE.  What is this and do you have to take it and, if so, how?

From the web site of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education:

“Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) began in 1925 as a form of theological education that takes place not exclusively in academic classrooms, but also in clinical settings where ministry is being practiced. ACPE certified CPE is offered in many kinds of settings: in hospitals and health care including university, children’s, and veterans’ facilities; in hospices; in psychiatric and community care facilities; in workplace settings; in geriatric and rehabilitation centers; and in congregational and parish-based settings. The textbooks for CPE include in-depth study of “the living human documents.” By “living human documents,” we mean both the people who receive care as well as a study of ourselves, the givers of care. Through the practice of ministry and the reflection thereon with supervisor and peers, the experiential learning that is CPE takes place.

“Among the 2,300 members that make up the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education are almost 300 ACPE Accredited CPE Centers and about 600 ACPE certified faculty members (called CPE Supervisors). There are also Theological Schools Members and Faith Groups/Agencies who are partners with ACPE in seeking to provide excellence in theological education. Other groups of ACPE members are Clinical Members, Students Affiliates, Individuals Members, Retired Supervisors, Retired Members, and ACPE Networks.

“Since ACPE formed in 1967 (as a merger of four CPE organizations), nearly 200,000 units of ACPE certified CPE have been offered to about 75,000 individuals from the United States and many other countries internationally. Approximately 9,000 units of ACPE certified CPE are completed annually. CPE students come from many different ethnic and cultural groups. Individuals from many faith traditions — Protestant, Roman Catholic, Judaism, Islam, Orthodox Christian, Native American religions and Buddhism — have taken ACPE certified CPE.

“The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education is nationally recognized as an accrediting agency in the field of clinical pastoral education by the U.S. Secretary of Education through the U.S. Department of Education.”

CPE is one of the best ways we know of to get hands-on supervised experience in the work of chaplaincy and professional spiritual care. To undertake this intense training you must locate a program in your locale, contact them about how to apply, and complete the number of hours required or desired.  Your CHS department chair or advisor will assist you as needed, and in most cases will provide a letter of support for your application to the program.  Note that you will probably have hours of duty at the local program site, which may be a hospital, mental health or addictions center, or nursing or other facility.

When you have completed your CPE training, you must follow these steps to receive credit towards your CHS degree:

  1. Download, complete and turn in this form.
  2. Make a payment to CHS for the number of credit hours for which you are applying.  Current rates apply.
  3. Send a copy of your CPE supervisor’s final evaluation letter, documenting your completed CPE hours, to the CHS Office (our address is in the web site footer below).

Check your degree requirements in the Student Catalog. If you have more questions, contact your CHS department chair or advisor.

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