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Geisinger School of Spiritual Care

The CPE learning environment

If you have never participated in a dynamic, interpersonal, process educational experience, then you may be concerned about what it will be like. A foundational task will be for the other students, your supervisor and you to share with one another 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 others' 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 worth taking.
-From CPE Application Handbook

ACPE Program Design
CPE provides clinical education for clergy, theological students, members of religious orders and lay persons. There are three types of accredited programs: Level I CPE, Level II CPE and Supervisory Clinical Pastoral Education. Clinical Pastoral Education includes pastoral reflection, pastoral formation, and pastoral competence offered as units of CPE. Pastoral specialization may be offered as an option. These are "modes" or "foci" which serve as educational concentrations. While learning goals in each Unit of CPE will generally  integrate elements of these modes, one will be most central. The learning contract between student and supervisor guides the development of the educational design.

Pastoral Reflection
"Pastoral reflection is the process of increasing awareness, understanding and ability to articulate the meaning and purpose of one's experience in ministry." 

Whether inexperienced or experienced, the student’s primary  objective for Pastoral Reflection involves examination of him/herself as person and pastor in relationship to a certified supervisor, accredited center, peer group, curriculum and pastoral ministry. Some persons enter CPE at a high level of experience, and they may work on issues of formation and competency from the outset. But even practiced students must utilize reflection on reshaping and development that creates integrated understanding of themselves in the role and function of ministry. This facet of pastoral education is necessary for student to become proficient in CPE’s unique clinical method of learning

Pastoral Formation
"Pastoral formation is the exploration and development of one's pastoral identity and practice through integrating one's heritage, theology and knowledge of behavioral and social sciences."

Pastoral formation refers primarily to the student's focus on personal and pastoral identity issues in both learning process and ministry. She or he is asked to assess and refine a pastoral self, including both understanding and function. Significant skills and knowledge may develop at the same time, but the focus is more on cultivating pastoral self and ministry by utilizing the clinical method of learning.

Pastoral Competence
"Pastoral competence is the discovery and use of skills necessary for the intensive and extensive practice of ministry."

The focus now shifts toward pastoral function and skills. It  includes awareness of patient and family needs, knowledge of theological  issues,  the behavioral and social sciences, and other conceptual frames relevant to ministry.

Continued maturing of personal and professional bearing includes awareness one’s strengths and weaknesses to be exercised responsibly and consistently in ministry, in relationships to peers and supervisor(s), and with persons in other disciplines. This task is the unfolding and deepening of pastoral competence.

Pastoral Specialization
"Pastoral specialization is the development of pastoral competence in an area of pastoral practice."

CPE unit(s) offered as pastoral specialization focus on the student's desire to become knowledgable and competent in a particular area of ministry, such as oncology, urban ministry in the local church, psychiatry, hospice ministry or pastoral counseling. Within Geisinger’s residency, the four clinical services - women’s & children’s, oncology, cardiology and trauma - may become areas of desired specialization. Individual students who intend a  specific focus are encouraged to delay that assignments until later in the residency cycle.

Extended students who have previous CPE in other centers or who have continued in the GSSC for additional years are eligible to negotiate a specialization.

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