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Clinical Pastoral Education

Healthcare Professionals > Clinical Pastoral Education

CPE Basics

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) provides training for pastoral caregivers in actual ministry settings under supervision. “'Clinical' means that students are engaged in the clinical method of learning as opposed to traditional classical study. They are involved in real-time, hands-on supervised experiences, which require systematic reflection on one’s personal and professional work. 'Pastoral' means that it is oriented toward the doing of ministry and it is therefore supervised and conducted by someone who is involved in ministry, usually in that particular setting. ‘Education’ means that it is indeed considered to be a learning experience undertaken by a student in a particular field….” [Glenn H. Asquith, Jr. Building Bridges, page 1]

The focus of CPE is three-fold: pastoral reflection, pastoral formation, and pastoral competence. Thus the students focus both on developing themselves as the primary tool of pastoral care and developing their pastoral care skills. Reflection on one’s history, actions, beliefs and relationships is a primary tool for learning.

The CPE program is designed to facilitate students' achievement of the following objectives:


Pastoral Formation

  • To develop students’ awareness of themselves as ministers and of the ways their ministry affects persons.
  • To develop students’ awareness of how their attitudes, values, assumptions, strengths and weaknesses affect their pastoral care.
  • To develop students’ ability to engage and apply the support, confrontation and clarification of the peer group for the integration ofpersonal attributes and pastoral functioning.

Pastoral Competence

  • To develop students’ awareness and understanding of how persons, social conditions, systems, and structures affect their lives and the lives of others and how to address effectively these issues through their ministry.
  • To develop students’ skills in providing intensive and extensive pastoral care and counseling to persons.
  • To develop students’ ability to make effective use of their religious/spiritual heritage, theological understanding, and knowledge of the behavioral sciences in their pastoral care of persons and groups.
  • To teach students the pastoral role in professional relationships and how to work effectively as a pastoral member of a multidisciplinary team.
  • To develop students’ capacity to use one’s pastoral and prophetic perspectives in preaching, teaching, leadership, management, pastoral care and pastoral counseling.

Pastoral Reflection

  • To develop students’ understanding and ability to apply the clinical method of learning.
  • To develop students’ abilities to use both individual and group supervision for personal and professional growth, including the capacity to evaluate one’s ministry.

The CPE center at Lancaster General Hospital is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE). This accreditation means that the CPE units that you complete at Lancaster General Health will be recognized nationally. The ACPE accreditation assures a level of quality and focus.

Certifying bodies for chaplains, such as the Association of Professional Chaplains, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, and National Association of Jewish Chaplains, all require CPE as part of the certification process. Many denominations require or recommend CPE as part of the ordination process. Taking CPE from an accredited center ensures that your training will be recognized.


Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.

One West Court Square, Suite 325

Decatur, GA 30030


To learn more about Clinical Pastoral Education, please visit www.ACPE.edu.


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