What is clinical pastoral education?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) offers a distinctive learning experience aimed at personal transformation. We adhere to the Common Qualifications and Competencies, previously known as the common standards of Chaplaincy, established by the Board-Certified Chaplain Institute (BCCI). Our educational approach is grounded in an unapologetically Biblical Christian perspective. We equip our graduates to serve and love all individuals, emphasizing listening to understand rather than prescribing, and advocating for non-judgmental and compassionate living.

CPE is open to spiritual professionals and theological students seeking professional growth in clinical pastoral settings. Through action-reflection methods and supervised practice, students learn to provide pastoral care to individuals in crisis situations.

Practical experience, often termed "Clinical Hours," can be gained in various settings beyond hospitals. We approve clinical hours in settings such as disaster response, prisons, homeless shelters, workplaces, addiction recovery programs, churches, colleges, and more. Any combination of local ministry can fulfill the practical experience requirement.

CPE consists of four levels, each comprising hands-on learning, clinical supervision, and academic study. It is tailored for chaplain or pastoral care interns, as well as bachelor's level or higher ministry students seeking to enhance their skills in spiritual care and presence.

Each CPE unit builds upon the previous one, consisting of 100 hours of academic instruction and 300 hours of practical experience. Our campus, approved by the Association of Biblical Higher Education, offers up to 6 hours of master’s level credit per unit. These hours can be earned as an intern, staff member, or lay volunteer. We offer three semesters annually (Winter, Summer, and Fall), each lasting 15 weeks with 12 weeks of classroom instruction.

Our courses also include weekly personalized and gospel-centered life coaching. Through coaching and supervision, we assist students in answering the fundamental question: "What would it look like for me to become the person God created me to be?"

Our student body comprises clergy, such as ordained chaplains and pastors, as well as non-clergy individuals, such as lay volunteers and college or seminary students seeking to serve their congregations and communities.

Completing all four levels of CPE, along with appropriate accredited education and experience, may qualify individuals for Board Certification in Chaplaincy or Pastoral Care.

See our description of possible certification levels by clicking here.

What will you learn in cpe?

Four Semesters Cover: Lectures, learning modules, and student collaboration creates an effective learning environment. The learning topics, expectations, and outcomes are described below for each course of CPE. Join us for a truly life changing experience.

Specific modules will address such important topics as: Asking Deeper Questions, Cultural Competency and Sensitivity, Staff Care, Effective Communication, Group Counseling Dynamics, HIPAA Compliance, End of Life Care, Advanced Care Directives, Religions, Work in a secular setting, Spiritual Survey and Assessment, Pastoral Diagnosis, Care and Treatment Recommendations, Pastoral Care Notes, and much more.   

CPE 100

Key Lecture and Discussion Topics:

  • Self awareness and spiritual disciplines
  • Cultural Competency and Sensitivity
  • Grief, Loss, and Bereavement. 
  • Story formed: Be genuinely interested in knowing the person as they are
  • Avoid prescribing, telling, instructing, fixing: You can't fix them!
  • Pastors versus Evangelists versus Chaplains. What's the difference? 
  • Ministry of presence. Effective listening to understand rather than to respond
  • Chaplains go deep, Head verses Heart questions
  • Seriously curious questions
  • Why Pastors and Evangelists have a hard time becoming an effective Chaplain
  • Group Project: Knowing your community through study of population demographics
  • Appropriate application of teaching from the learning modules

CPE 200

Key Lecture and Discussion Topics:

  • Building on self awareness
  • Effective communication
  • Ethics in chaplain care
  • Providing end of life spiritual care
  • Group dynamics and communication
  • Creating a positive environment for effective group discussion (Family, Friends, Team, etc)
  • Going deeper into effective communication: Nonverbal cues, listening skills, asking questions
  • Moving from small talk to deep talk: Away from fact gathering to emotion sharing
  • Group Project: Understanding the dynamics of group behavior and learning how to manage group conversations
  • Connecting life and trials to faith and spirituality

CPE 300

Key Lecture and Discussion Topics:

  • Continued self awareness and advanced spiritual disciplines
  • Caring for the staff
  • Advanced Care Directives and planning
  • The importance of community, a referral network, and working with volunteers
  • There will never be enough paid chaplains, so build a village - no Lone Rangers
  • Listening to understand, going much deeper, the art of the question, be the Chaplain
  • Keepers of the Sacred Presence
  • Contribute to the professionalism of Chaplaincy
  • Group Project: Download and complete your state specific Advanced Care Directives and discuss the challenges and difficult decisions to grapple with
  • An easy way to demonstrate effectiveness to management is staff retention

CPE 400

Key Lecture and Discussion Topics:

  • Continued self awareness and advanced spiritual disciplines
  • Becoming a teacher of other Chaplains
  • Client confidentiality
  • Spiritual Assessment and documentation
  • Think like a supervisor: Teach others the craft of Chaplaincy
  • Build on the subject of recruiting and coordinating volunteers: It takes a village
  • Build a professional referral network: Don't get in over your head
  • Understand the process of Board Certification; know your options
  • Know your faith and worldview. Do not be unequally yoked to an organization whose beliefs, practices, and expectations conflict with your own. Compare Codes of Conduct. Choose wisely
  • Get out of your head and move into your heart
  • Use of note taking in assessments. Document your work. Make it habit
  • Group Project: Define the terms "Pastoral Diagnosis," and "Spiritual Care/Assessment." Create a custom spiritual assessment document for use in your unique Chaplain setting. The final document should be limited to no more than two pages, front and back. Include all pertinent information you deem to be important, a section for notes, a section for specific diagnosis, plan of care, and the spiritual assessment process you wish to follow as drawn from the material contained in the course. 
  • Improving the profession