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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Clinical Pastoral Education

/images/CPE1.jpgClinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a multicultural, multifaith program devoted to providing education and improving the quality of ministry and pastoral care offered by spiritual caregivers of all faiths. Through intensive interaction with individuals in need, along with feedback from peers and supervisors, students develop a new awareness of themselves and the needs of those to whom they minister. Students will gain a new understanding of ministry from theological reflection on specific human situations. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping individuals, students will develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships.

CPE is an experience in process education that has been shaped by history and yet remains responsive to the present-day cultural developments which affect pastoral formation. The heart of CPE is a student’s ministry with people and learning from that ministry through reflection, discussion, and evaluation with other students and supervisors.

/images/CPE2.jpgCPE students will use verbatim reports, case studies, and other reporting tools to present their ministry for supervision. Didactics and seminars inform students about issues related to the living human document, both themselves and their patients. There will be discussions that assist students in understanding theological issues arising from experience. There will be opportunities to learn from behavioral sciences, while also reflecting theologically, so a student can draw from both disciplines in interpreting humanity. Students are challenged to consider how groups and social structures define and delineate ministry. Students participate in a dynamic learning group of peers which provides opportunities for mutual supervision, care giving, challenges and appreciation. Developing a learning environment that is supportive, stimulating and safe makes the risk of interpersonal learning and growth worthwhile.

The essential elements in CPE include:

  • The actual practice of ministry to persons
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice
  • Pastoral supervision
  • A process model of learning
  • A theoretical perspective on all elements of the program
  • A small group of peers engaged in a common learning experience
  • A specific time period
  • An individual contract for learning within the objectives of CPE
  • The CPE program conducted under the auspices of an ACPE certified supervisor (faculty) attached to an ACPE, Inc., accredited CPE center

At the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center we offer two types of CPE—Level I & Level II, arranged in three formats: (1) summer-intensive; (2) extended (semester or longer), and (3) residency-year-long.

Candidates interested in applying for CPE at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center should contact Chaplain Donald Harris or Arlene Goco at (713) 791-1414, extension 27125, or by email at: For general information regarding CPE, inquirers may visit:*