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Clinical pastoral education (CPE) is education to teach pastoral care to clergy and others. CPE is the primary method of training hospital and hospice chaplains in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. CPE is both a multicultural and interfaith experience that uses real-life ministry encounters of students to improve the ministry and pastoral care provided by caregivers.
An underpinning theory of education that structures Clinical Pastoral Education is the 'Action-Reflection' mode of learning. Students of CPE courses typically compose 'verbatims' of their pastoral care encounters in which they are invited to reflect upon what occurred and draw insight from these reflections that can be implemented in future pastoral care events.
Although the practice of pastoral care has a long tradition in Christianity and to some extent in other faith traditions, the systematic analysis of pastoral practice associated with Clinical Pastoral Education had its beginnings in the early twentieth century. In 1925, Richard Cabot, a physician and adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School, published an article in Survey Graphic suggesting that every candidate for the ministry receive clinical training for pastoral work similar to the clinical training offered to medical students. In the 1930s, the Rev. Anton Boisen placed theological students in supervised contact with patients in mental hospitals.
CPE in Australia and New Zealand is conducted by six CPE accrediting associations that consult together for common curricula and standards of practice under an umbrella association, the Australia New Zealand Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ANZACPE). The six constituent associations are: New South Wales College of Clinical Pastoral Education (New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory); Queensland Institute of Clinical Pastoral Education; Association for Supervised Pastoral Education in Australia (Victoria and Tasmania); Association for Clinical Pastoral Education in Western Australia; South Australia and Northern Territory Association for Clinical Pastoral Education; and New Zealand Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
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