Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a professional, process-oriented educational experience that provides students with an opportunity to develop new awarenesses of themselves as persons and pastors and the needs of those to whom they minister. As such, CPE is intensive and extensive, with a minimum time commitment of 400 hours.
Basic Options for Participation
CPE is typically packaged as a full-time summer experience or a part-time, concurrent experience during the academic year. The full-time (minimum of forty hours per week) basic unit of CPE typically takes place over the course of ten weeks during the summer.
CPE may also be engaged on a half-time basis (“extended” units/quarters) over the course of twenty weeks (minimum commitment of twenty (20) hours per week). The schedule for these extended quarters varies from one CPE center to another. The closest CPE Center, Pine Rest (PR), schedules their extended quarter from early-October to mid-March. This local center is often the most realistic venue for CTS students to complete an extended quarter. However, scheduling the same full-day off (usually on Thursdays) over the course of the fall semester, J-term, and spring semester can pose a significant challenge for many CTS students. Other CPE centers may offer different schedules during the academic year.
The schedule for full-time and extended units for all certified CPE centers can be found on the ACPE website. Students are strongly encouraged to explore the possibility of participating at other centers (especially for full-time summer opportunities) in various locations around North America. The website is a great resource for exploring these possibilities.
Description of the CPE Experience
The focal points of the CPE experience are:
- the CPE group (6 or 7 participants from other seminaries or a variety of ministry settings) led by a certified CPE supervisor;
- “clinical work” (ministry) in an assigned/approved ministry setting/internship (e.g. hospitals, a variety of institutions, or congregations);
- individual supervision sessions with the CPE supervisor for processing of experiences in the group and assigned ministry setting. A significant amount of participants’ time (approximately 40%) is spent in a CPE group. The supervisor seeks to facilitate the group process in such a way that group members learn to offer and receive feedback from each other as ministry incidents and conversations are processed within the group. Approximately 50% of the CPE participant’s time is spent doing ministry in their ministry setting. At the conclusion of the experience, participants write a self-assessment and the CPE supervisor writes an evaluation.
Anticipated Gains in Formation for Ministry
CPE teaches and employs a clinical learning model. Students who participate in CPE may anticipate that they will develop a clearer sense of pastoral identity and become more aware of ways in which their person and ministry is experienced by others. CPE also assists students in developing a greater awareness of how their attitudes, values, emotions, assumptions, strengths/weaknesses, etc. affect the effectiveness of the pastoral care they offer. By way of participation in the CPE group, students may anticipate growing in their ability to engage in providing and receiving support, confrontation and clarification regarding their interactions with others. Students will be challenged and helped by the group and supervisor to begin integrating their learning’s from CPE into their personal and pastoral functioning. Students may also anticipate that they will develop an 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.
Capacity, Costs, and Credits
CPE centers typically accept six to eight participants per group. Currently, Pine Rest offers two summer and two extended units. However, space in this program is limited, since Pine Rest also serves other seminaries, chaplains, individual pastors, dioceses, etc. Like most CPE centers, Pine Rest strongly values building diversity into the CPE group. For these and other good reasons, CTS strongly encourages students to research possibilities for full-time summer sessions with CPE centers outside of West Michigan and around North America.
The typical cost or tuition for participating in CPE ranges between $600 and $900. Tuition is usually paid directly to the CPE center, except for the Pine Rest center. The West Michigan CPE center at Pine Rest does not have a set rate. Instead, this center begins by stating the per student cost (e.g. $3400 for summer, 2009) and subsequently invites students to apply for substantial need-based scholarships. Also, CTS supports students participating in CPE at the Pine Rest center by providing financial support to this CPE center. Pine Rest then bills CTS for the balance due (usually the equivalent of tuition cost for four credit hours) and CTS adds this charge to the student’s account.
CTS supports all students completing CPE at any accredited center by way of granting internship credit (4 hours) or a combination of internship credit and elective course credit (2 hours each) in the student’s program at CTS.
Granting of CPE Credit
In order to receive credit for completing CPE, students must:
- Only when both reports have been submitted will credit be granted.