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General Information

ACPE Clinical Pastural Education is an experience-based approach to learning  spiritual care delivery that combines direct service with qualified supervision and group reflection.  The program is open to clergy and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others).  It aims to assist persons in achieving their full potential for ministry.

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 provide spiritual care.  From theological reflection on specific human situations they gain a new understanding of ministry.

Programs are offered at facilities throughout the United States, including hospitals, long term care facilities, correctional centers and a variety of other locations.  Training Centers are accredited and Teaching Supervisors are certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc., which is in turn accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.

ACPE offers Level I and Level II CPE as well as Supervisory CPE in sequence.  The outcomes for each level must be completed before moving to the next level.  CPE is usually offered in single units  or as a year-long residency of three to four consecutive units.

A single unit of CPE involves a minimum of 300 hours of supervised direct service (action) and 100 hours of small group activity (reflection).  Many Centers offer them quarterly year-round as full-time educational experiences.  May also offer part-time or extended options where the 400 hours is spread over a longer period of time (anywhere from 4 to 9 months) to allow people to continue to go to school or work part time elsewhere concurrently.

Many theological schools give students credit for a unit of CPE and many faith traditions require a unit for persons in formation.  Most institutions require at least some CPE for employment as a chaplain.  To be certified as a professional chaplain by the Association for Professional Chaplains, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains or the National Association of Jewish Chaplains four units of CPE are required along with master’s level academic theological  training and faith group endorsement, plus demonstration of competency.  Many ministry professionals take CPE as continuing education and, increasingly, people from other health care disciplines (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.) are taking units to assist them in providing holistic care.

For more information about CPE units, click on the following link:  ACPE Information for Students

For information about professional chaplaincy, visit the Links to Partner Organizations tab under the Resources tab on this website.


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