What is CPE

In the 1920’s theological education began to be profoundly reshaped by the medical model of education which itself was being transformed in response to the renowned Flexner Report of 1910. Theological education, which was at that point in history almost entirely academic, theoretical, and forensic, began to change just as medical education was changing. Pastors began using the mentorship approach to learning “at the bedside” in contact with living persons and their problems.

Thus, began the art and science of Clinical Pastoral Training or Education, the disciplined examination of specific cases of pastoral care and counseling, and the application of the clinical method to the work of ministry. Clinical Pastoral Education has come to be known as the study of persons and their problems of relating and structures of meaning. This training has become accepted as a formative component in the preparation of individuals for religious ministry.

Anton Boisen (1876-1965) was the individual who most provided the initial impetus toward making this change in theological education. Motivated by the urgency to understand his own psychotic episodes and their religious and developmental implications, Boisen inaugurated and institutionalized this new component in theological education known as Clinical Pastoral Training (CPE) later to be called as Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

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