Community Care Chaplains
Healing the community through compassionate care
Clinical Training

What is Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is professional theological education for ministry designed for clergy, seminary students, and qualified lay-persons. Through a reflection-in-action process of education, participants learn and grow in the art of pastoral care. They are challenged to improve the quality and effectiveness of their pastoral relationships through an intense and in-depth involvement with people in crisis, fellow CPE students, supervisors, and other professionals. The concept of CPE, first conceived by Dr. Richard Cabot, was expanded by the Reverend Anton Boisen to include a case study method of theological inquiry --- a study of the "living human document". As CPE developed, other CPE leaders expanded CPE to integrate into pastoral practice a knowledge of medicine, psychology, and behavioral sciences. Today many CPE supervisors emphasize the importance of pastoral relationships being formed through an integration of personal history, behavioral theory and method, and spiritual development.

CPE Program

Community Care Chaplains offers both the Extended In-house and the Extended Distance CPE program. In-house CPE is a local program is currently on hold. Both are full CPE units of clinical pastoral education spread over 25 weeks. A total of 400 clinical hours are required which includes:
  • at least 12-15 clinical hours
  • 4-5 classroom hours per week
  • individual supervision
  • required readings
The class days are set by the program faculty. The program is designed for local clergy, laity, and qualified laypersons who are currently affiliated with existing community agencies and healthcare facilities.


In the Distance CPE Program, the group meets on a regular basis via videoconference. Each student/trainee is required to have a computer with a web camera, an internet access, a phone unit. An orientation day via videoconference will be held prior to the first class meeting in order to learn the ropes of the technology involved in distance training.

The program is designed to help trainees complete the clinical training right in their own locality. This program is designed to those who are affiliated with an existing healthcare facility (hospitals, nursing home, hospice,etc.), parish or other social/community agency working as volunteer chaplains, part-time chaplains, or fulltime chaplains. For more information, please contact us at

Experience in Process Education

CPE is an experience in process education which has been shaped by history and yet remains responsive to the present-day cultural developments which will affect your pastoral formation. The heart of CPE is your ministry with people and learning from that ministry through reflection, discussion, and evaluation with other students and your supervisor. In your CPE experience, you will utilize verbatims, case studies, and other ministry descriptions to present your ministry for supervision. The focus in some seminars will be on what is happening to you, the care giver, as much as on what is happening to the people receiving your ministry. There will be discussions which assist you in understanding theological issues arising from experience. There will be opportunities to learn from behavioral sciences while also reflecting theologically, so you can draw from both in understanding the human condition. You will be challenged to think about groups and social structures as well as individuals in defining your ministry. You also will be part of a dynamic learning group with other students and your supervisor, which will provide opportunities for mutual supervision, care giving, challenge and appreciation.

Clinical Training calendar

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Typical Day in CPE

CPE units may be either full time or part time. Either schedule will include an equivalent number of ministry and education hours (minimum of 400 hrs). A more common day, however, is one in which time is provided for ministry and for several education events. Since the heart of CPE is ministering and learning from the experience, a day's schedule frequently includes a clinical seminar in which a student presents a pastoral encounter to other students and the supervisor for discussion and feedback.
Other typical sessions are:
  • didactic seminars in which discussion follows a lecture;
  • discussion of a book or article;
  • exploration of theological concerns;
  • peer group meetings or interpersonal group sessions for mutual sharing, caring, support and challenge;
  • individual conferences with the supervisor where professional, personal, and relationship concerns are explored;
Field trips, workshops, and clinical observations may be periodically included. Evaluation experiences with the other students and your supervisor are also part of a CPE program and may be scheduled at the end of a unit to sum up the experience, midway to assess your learning objectives, and, at other times, such as with the other care providers in your ministry area.