Clinical Pastoral Education, or CPE as it is commonly known, is a program of clinical training for seminarians and other people interested in developing their skills as pastoral care givers. A unit of CPE involves the student in at least 400 hours of training in an institutional setting that has been accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.

The methodology of learning in CPE programs is an action/reflection, one in which the student engages in ministry and later reflects upon the same with his or her supervisor and peers in the group. For example, students in hospitals visit patients on various floors and later present their work to their colleagues through written reports called verbatims. This process allows students to give and receive feedback about themselves and others in ministry.

Students often wonder whether they should take CPE while in seminary. While it is often beneficial to do so in that it enriches the rest of the student’s academic program, it is also the case that CPE is beneficial if taken after seminary. Students taking CPE while in seminary may receive elective credits upon successful completion of the CPE program. Students should consult their program handbook for further information.

The program is designed to assist clergy and future clergy to get to know themselves as pastoral caregivers in a more substantial way. Such in-depth self-knowledge is important in that it allows the caregiver to minister free of personal problems and griefs that can adversely affect his or her capacity to minister.

For more information about CPE, visit the website of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.