What is clinical pastoral education?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a unique experience of transformational learning. We teach to the Common Qualifications and Competencies, formerly known as the common standards of Chaplaincy, established by the Board Certified Chaplain Institute (BCCI). Our campus teaches within an unapologetically Biblical Christian worldview. We prepare our graduates to serve all people, love all people, to listen to understand rather than to prescribe, and to live non-judgmental or condemning lives. We offer CPE to spiritual professionals and theological students seeking professional growth and development in clinical pastoral settings. CPE students learn through action-reflection instructional methods and supervised practice in real-world settings to provide pastoral services to persons in crisis.

Practical experience, also referred to as "Clinical Hours" may be earned in a variety of settings. No longer are CPE students required to earn experience only in a hospital setting. We can approve clinical hours in a variety of ministry settings not limited to Hospitals. It can include disaster response, first responders, jail and prison, homeless shelters, workplace environment, addiction recovery, a church, a college or seminary, and more. Any combination of ministry in a local setting can be approved for the practical experience required. 

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is provided through four levels, or units of hands-on learning, clinical supervision, and academic study. CPE is specifically designed for students who are chaplain or pastoral care interns, or ministry students at the bachelor’s level or higher who wish to become more effective at the ministry of presence and spiritual care. 

Each CPE Unit builds on the previous module. Each will include 100 hours of academic instruction and 300 hours of practical experience. The Association of Biblical Higher Education has approved CPE taught by our campus for up to 6 hours of Master's level credit per unit. Hours can be earned in a variety of settings as an intern, staff member, or a lay volunteer. We offer three semesters each year (Winter, Summer, Fall).  Each semester is 15 weeks long. Actual CPE classroom instruction is 12 weeks.  

Weekly customized and gospel centered life coaching is included in our courses. Through coaching and supervision, we help our students answer the most important question any Christian can ask, which is, "If I became the person God created me to be, what would that look like?" 

Students include both clergy, such as Ordained Chaplains and Pastors, and non-clergy, such as lay volunteers and college or seminary students who wish to serve people in their congregations and surrounding community.  

Obtaining all four levels of CPE may, along with the appropriate level of accredited education and experience, provide you with opportunity to become Board Certified 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 unit. Join us for a truly life changing experience.

Specific modules will address such important topics as: Asking Seriously Curious 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