Clinical Pastoral Education is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounter with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.
Pastoral Reflection - reflection on one's self as person and pastor in relationship to persons in crisis, the educator, and peer group members, as well as the curriculum and institutional setting.
Pastoral Formation - focus on personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry.
Pastoral Competence - deepening and unfolding of competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills and knowledge of theology and the behavioral sciences.
Some ACPE accredited Centers also offer Pastoral Specialization, focusing on the student's desire to become competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of ministry, e.g. oncology, urban ministry, parish ministry, hospice ministry, etc.
ACPE accredited Centers offer Level I and Level II CPE, as well as Educator CPE, in sequence. The outcomes for each level must be completed before moving to the next level. ACPE certified CPE is usually offered in single units (10-12 weeks) or in a year-long program (3-4 consecutive units). Some ACPE accredited Centers have other part-time options. The Center of your choice can explain the options available at their location.
ACPE certified CPE serves as a part of one's preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching, and counseling. A student's learning contract may be focused toward integration of theological, psychological, and pastoral insights into pastoral functioning for parish work. Or the contract may be designed with a career goal of chaplaincy or pastoral counseling.
Some students, after completing several units of ACPE certified CPE, choose to enroll in Educator CPE working toward certification as an ACPE Certified Educator. In Educator CPE the student learns the theory and practice of education and has an experience of educating CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of an ACPE Certified Educator.
ACPE certified CPE develops the capacity for the pastoral and spiritual care of individuals, families, and systems.
Many theological schools require one unit of CPE as a part of a theological degree program.
Other schools accept a year of CPE as the required intern year of ministry for a theological degree program.
A number of theological schools which are members of the ACPE have graduate degree programs which combine academic study and Educator CPE.
For units of ACPE certified CPE: An individual who, through a written application and an admissions interview, has demonstrated the ability to participate in ACPE certified CPE, usually one who has successfully completed at least one year of theological school. And such other requirements or education and experience as a specific ACPE Center may require.
For ACPE accredited Educator CPE programs: An individual who has successfully completed several units of CPE and has demonstrated a readiness to utilize Educator CPE, usually one who has a theological degree and several years of pastoral experience.
ACPE accredits about three hundred CPE Centers and Systems throughout the United States. ACPE Centers are located in health care institutions, hospitals of all kinds (e.g. general, university, children's, psychiatric, military, VA), geriatric centers, hospices, parishes, mental health facilities, correctional institutions, and a variety of other settings. Click here for our online directory.
International students should apply to the ACPE Center of their choice. Once accepted, the student should contact the ACPE office (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) to apply for a visa. The visa process can take from six to nine months to complete. The visa must be obtained before you can begin. Additional considerations are discussed on the International Student Information page.
Also, currently there is a reciprocity agreement between ACPE and CASC/ACSS for the recognition of each others’ certification of educators (supervisors). NACC Supervisors may supervise in ACPE programs under certain conditions. There is also an agreement between ACPE and NCPE (Norwegian CPE) to recognize each other's educators under certain conditions.
Several ACPE Centers utilize video conferencing as a modality. As every program is unique, please contact the center directly for complete details. You can find these ACPE Centers in the online directory by using the “Units offered” filter and select “Online Options.”
No. ACPE is not recognized as a Title IV accrediting agency therefore our education is not eligible for an educational deferment. You may be eligible for other deferments or forbearances. Please check with your loan provider.
ACPE encourages complaints be resolved at the local ACPE Center. Mediation is often an option. If the complaint does not get resolved at this level, a formal complaint can then be filed. Click here for more information.
ACPE Bylaws specify several membership categories for interested agencies and individuals. ACPE members receive the ACPE News, and information about the annual conference, and member rates to educational events. Members are encouraged to participate in national and local events. Membership is maintained by meeting association standards, ethics, and payment of annual membership fees.
Membership as a ACPE Certified Educator is available only through successful completion of the certification process.
Center and System membership is available through the accreditation process. More information is available in the accreditation section of our website.
For an ACPE membership categories and forms, click here.
ACPE certified 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 ACPE certified CPE is your ministry with people and learning from that ministry through reflection, discussion, and evaluation with other students and your educator. In your ACPE certified CPE experience, you will utilize verbatims (in the form of Pastoral Care Reports), case studies, and other ministry descriptions to present your ministry to 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 educator, which will provide opportunities for mutual supervision, care giving, challenge and appreciation.
ACPE certified CPE is offered in a number of different kinds of settings. In many of the settings, such as general hospitals, mental health facilities, correctional institutions, children’s hospitals, and nursing homes, you will minister to individuals, families, and small groups of people as a chaplain. ACPE certified CPE may, however, be done in any setting where ministry happens. There are a growing number of ACPE Centers with innovative approaches to ministry. Many ACPE Centers are being established as congregational or community-based models in connection with a local church or churches. You may want to clarify with an ACPE Center the types of ministries which occur there.
ACPE certified CPE units may be either full time or part time. Either schedule will include an equivalent number of ministry and education hours. Some extended ACPE certified CPE units meet one day per week for structured educational sessions, and ministry is performed at other times. A more common day, however, is one in which time is provided for ministry and for several education events. Since the heart of ACPE certified 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 educator 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 relationship concerns are explored; and worship or sharing occasions which provide opportunity for spiritual nurture. Field trips, workshops, and clinical observations may be periodically included. Evaluation experiences with the other students and your educator are also part of a ACPE accredited 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. You will discover that a ACPE accredited CPE schedule asks for active investment but also provides time for sharing, reflection, preparation, and relaxation.
If you have never participated in a dynamic, interpersonal, process educational experience, you may be concerned about what it will be like. A foundational task will be for the other students, your educator and you to share with each other in such a way that all are cared for, supported, and challenged without being belittled. Furthermore, since an individual best knows his or her own limits, everyone will need to respect other’s boundaries and work to negotiate appropriate learning relationships. Developing a learning environment that is supportive, stimulating, and safe will make the risks of interpersonal learning and growth work taking.
To be certified as an ACPE Certified Educator or professional chaplain, students must earn a Bachelors and Master’s degree from a nationally or regionally accredited university or seminary. The following websites will help determine if an educational institution’s accreditation is recognized: