Core Curriculum

CPE Learning Objectives and Standards

  • To develop the ability to make use of the clinical process and the clinical method of learning. This includes the formulation of clinical data, the ability to receive and utilize feedback and consultation, and to make creative use of supervision.
  • To develop the self as a work in progress and to cultivate the understanding of the self as the principal tool in pastoral care and counseling. This includes the ability to reflect and interpret one’s own life story both psychologically and theologically.
  • To demonstrate the ability to establish a pastoral bond with persons and groups in various life situations and crisis circumstances.
  • To demonstrate basic care and counseling skills including listening, empathy, reflection, analysis of problems, conflict resolution, theological reflection and the demonstration of a critical eye so as to examine and evaluate human behavior and religious symbols for their meaning and significance.
  • To demonstrate the ability to make a pastoral diagnosis with special reference to the nature and quality of religious values.
  • To demonstrate the ability to provide a critical analysis of one’s own religious tradition.
  • To demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of group behavior and the variety of group experiences, and to utilize the support, confrontation and clarification of the peer group for the integration of personal attributes and pastoral functioning.
  • To demonstrate the ability to communicate and engage in ministry with persons across cultural boundaries.
  • To demonstrate the ability to utilize individual supervision for personal and professional growth and for developing the capacity to evaluate one’s ministry.
  • To demonstrate the ability to work as a pastoral member on an interdisciplinary team.
  • To demonstrate the ability to make effective use of the behavioral sciences in pastoral ministry.
  • To demonstrate increasing leadership ability and personal authority.
  • To demonstrate familiarity with the basic literature of the field: clinical, behavioral and theological.


A typical unit of CPE requires a minimum of 400 hours of supervised ministry in a clinical setting. Chaplains in training are assigned to at least one area of pastoral responsibility for clinical pastoral work. Pastoral placement is negotiated with each intern. Evening, weekend, and overnight assignments may be assigned depending on the clinical requirements of each unit.

Weekly Group Training Seminars consist of the following although there is some latitude in the specific seminars that are offered:


Various inter-disciplinary presentations are provided for the group's learning. CPE Supervisors and other professionals present information on pastoral, ethical, and health care issues. Interns may also have the opportunity to offer a didactic of their own choosing.

Case Study Review

Case studies are the principle learning tool in CPE and each intern is required to present a case study of an actual pastoral encounter. Each member of the peer group will provide feedback on the particular case presented. The goal of the case study is to promote peer consultation and to foster pastoral competence.

Group Relations or Interpersonal Relationship Group

This peer group learning experience has a dual focus. First, it provides opportunities for interns to explore various personal and professional issues that may arise during their ministry. Second, it allows an experiential study of group formation and development utilizing the group experience itself as an educational tool.

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