Clinical Pastoral Education

What is CPE: The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program allows ministers, seminarians, and other religiously oriented persons to develop counseling skills, and familiarity with a particular pastoral setting (usually within a hospital, hospice, retirement home., etc..) and self-awareness as pastoral caregivers. In this context, attention is given to enhancing the dignity of patients, family members, parishioners, staff, and CPE students.

The educational approach may be described as "action-reflection-action," with students providing pastoral care in assigned areas using their experiences for reflection and learning.

While seminary courses often provide an academic basis for the theology of pastoral care, CPE emphasizes learning by doing. Seminary field education experience does not provide the same level of intensity of direct supervision, peer interaction, or accountability for one's professional functioning as does CPE.

Objectives of CPE: The objectives of CPE are the development of personal and pastoral identity and the growth of professional competencies as a minister or chaplain. Specific objectives are:

  • To become aware of one's self as a minister and of the ways one's ministry affects people.

  • To become a competent pastor of people and groups in various life situations and crisis circumstances, and to develop the maturity to provide intensive and extensive pastoral care and counseling.

  • To utilize the clinical method of learning

  • To utilize the support, confrontation, and clarification of the peer group for the integration of personal attributes and pastoral functioning.

  • To become competent in self-evaluation and in utilizing supervision and consultation to evaluate one's pastoral practice.

  • To develop the ability to make optimum use of one's religious heritage, theological understanding, and knowledge of behavioral science in pastoral ministry to persons and groups.

  • To acquire self-knowledge to a degree that permits pastoral care to be offered within the strengths and limitations of one's person.

  • To develop the ability to work as a pastoral member of an interdisciplinary team.

  • To develop the capacity to utilize one's pastoral perspective and competence in a variety of functions such as preaching, teaching, and administration as well as pastoral care and counseling.

  • To become aware of how one's attitudes values, and assumptions affect one's ministry.

  • To understand the theological issues arising from experience, and to utilize theology and behavioral science to understand the human condition.

For more information about CPSP click the link.

CPE is:

  • Pastoral Education in a clinical setting. Supervision is enhanced by the student; 's relationship throughout the setting, since there is communication among the staff members.

  • Learning and practicing skills in listening and intervention.

  • Participating in the life of a small group dedicated to self-exploration to develop pastoral identity and skills

  • Offering to help people find their inner spiritual resources.

  • Exploring the possibilities and limitations of pastoral care.

  • Developing skills in networking with other professions.

CPE is not:

  • Witnessing one's faith, no matter the religion or denomination. It is not about evangelizing or teaching.

  • Primarily about providing pastoral care to patients/clients/parishioners. It is an educational program that focuses on the student, although benefits also extend to the recipient of pastoral care.

  • A program to teach people to be chaplains. It is often required for employment in chaplaincy, but its scope is the much broader field of pastoral care in any setting.

  • Theraphy. While there is an emphasis on learning to use the Self as a pastoral tool, it is not the purpose of CPE to mandate significant life change.


The CPE program follows the standards set by its accrediting organization, providing for a minimum of 400 hours of supervised learning per unit of training. 100 of those hours are seminar hours spent with a supervisor and your peer cohort. 300 hours are clinical hours spent serving as a chaplain visiting people, their family members, and staff.

How to Apply: Use the contact button and send a message that you are interested in the CPE training program.

Tuition: The cost will be $600 per unit and is to be paid before starting classes. All textbooks are the responsibility of the students.

Accreditation: The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP)