What is CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education)?

“Clinical pastoral education (CPE) is education to teach pastoral care to clergy and others. CPE is the primary method of training hospital and hospice chaplains and spiritual care providers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.[1] CPE is both a multicultural and interfaith experience that uses real-life ministry encounters of students to improve the ministry and pastoral care provided by caregivers.[2]

NOTE:  Mulitple sources – click on links to view sources.   Original source from Wikipedia

Almost all Chaplains (especially those who work in clinical settings such as hospitals or palliative care facities) are required to have at least 4 units of CPE.   The concept behind CPE training is to help visiting Ordained Clergy and chaplains to understand the process used within a particular facility when interacting with a patient who requests a chaplain or clergy.

Probably the most important experiences CPE brings to the Chaplain and even the ordained clergy is realizations that members of their temple, mosque, parish, or church are multi-dimentional – in short – we all are human beings which have sides of ourselves beyond the spiritual.  Though we may be trained as chaplains help an individual with their spiritual needs, that may not be what the patient or member wants.  We are multi-dimensional  (biological, emotional, psychological, social as well as spiritual.  CPE helps us understand the needs of those we serve should drive our interaction and responses – not our own faith.

Being a Chaplain requires we step out of our own comforable “column of faith” and recognize the faith of those we serve.

How Chaplains interact with patients is different based on the setting.   Within a hospital and healthcare facilities, Clincial Pastoral Education introduces the student to many models and approaches when asked to visit a patient or person in a healthcare setting.  

According to the Assoication of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE.edu):

“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. ”  [source: http://acpe.edu]