Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an educational and formation learning process for the professional work of pastoral/spiritual care. CPE uses an educational methodology that combines knowledge of theology/spirituality (what we believe), with knowledge of education (how we learn), with knowledge of the behavioural sciences (who we are as human beings). CPE’s methodology utilizes the ‘action-reflection’ model of learning. The ‘action’ component entails practical experience in the work of pastoral/spiritual care within a pastoral/spiritual care setting; this care acknowledges and attends to the human condition, particularly life’s spiritual dimensions. The ‘reflection’ component entails the exploration, articulation and integration of the pastoral/spiritual carer’s experience, the dynamics present, and the theological/spiritual implications. This ‘action-reflection’ process is integral to CPE students’/participants’ understanding and the formation of their pastoral/spiritual care identity and competence. CPE encourages learning from living human documents.
The specific content of a CPE Unit will depend upon the particular interests and needs of the students/ participants and the context(s) in which they offer pastoral/spiritual care. The learning process allows for the addressing of the particular learning goals that each student/participant identifies. The process balances the practical experience of pastoral/spiritual care, small group supervision/interaction, and personal individual supervision, in an integrated programme of experiential and theoretical education.
Foundational to the CPE process is a relational learning environment, based on the development of mutual trust, respect, openness and challenge.
CPE Units integrate clinical experience, group and individual supervision, personal and collegial reflection, and directed critical reading and recording
Past-President Bernadette Wurlod made a presentation to the 2021 Spiritual Care Australia on Clinical Pastoral Education.