Pastoral Care | Ascension
Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas

Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas

  • Hospital/Medical Center


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Pastoral Care

Ascension Seton offers pastoral care services to all patients and their families.

Clinical Pastoral Education at Ascension Seton

Clinical Pastoral Education is professional education for ministry. Seminary students, laypersons and ministers serve as Resident, Intern, Extern and Certified Education Student Chaplains providing Spiritual Care to patients and families at Ascension Seton.

Through intense interaction with persons in need, and the feedback from peers, clinical mentors, and faculty, students develop an awareness of themselves as persons and as professional spiritual care providers. The educational process and ministry to persons gives students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the cultural, theological, spiritual and socioeconomic dynamics that influence their lives as well the lives of persons to whom they minister. Through their work with the interdisciplinary team they gain a deeper understanding of how to provide leadership and to work effectively in a multidisciplinary setting.

The CPE Program at Ascension Seton is accredited by:

The Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.
We Work, Floor 4

120 West Trinity Place

Decatur, GA 30030

Tel: (404) 320-1472
Fax: (404) 320-0849

Ascension Seton is accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education to offer programs of Level I/II CPE and Supervisory CPE.

What is CPE?

The Essential Elements in CPE Include:

  • The practice of ministry to persons.
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that practice.
  • Pastoral Supervision by an ACPE Certified Educator, Associate Certified Educator or ACPE Certified Educator Student.
  • A process conception of learning.
  • A theoretical perspective on all elements of the program.
  • A small group of peers in a common learning experience.
  • A specific time period.
  • An individual contract for learning.
  • ACPE accreditation of the CPE Center.

The Individual Learning Contract

The development of a learning contract between the student and a CPE educator is central to the educational process of CPE. The learning contract addresses learning and growth in pastoral reflection, pastoral formation and pastoral competence:

  • Pastoral Reflection– reflection on one’s self as person and pastor in relationship to persons in crisis, to educators, and peer group members, as well as reflection on the CPE curriculum.
  • Pastoral Formation– focus on personal and professional identity issues as a learner and as spiritual care provider.
  • Pastoral Competence– growth in competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills and knowledge of theology and the behavioral sciences.

For more information on each of these, please see below Objectives for Clinical Pastoral Education.

What Does CPE Prepare a Person to Do?

CPE serves as a part of one’s preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching and counseling. The educational process is guided by a student’s learning contract that he or she develops collaboratively with an educator . A student’s learning contract focuses on the integration of personal awareness, of theological, psychological and pastoral experience through the ministry to persons.

Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Supervisory CPE, working toward certification as a CPE Educator. In Supervisory CPE the student learns the theory and practice of supervision and has an experience of supervising CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of a CPE educator. CPE develops the capacity for the pastoral and spiritual care of individuals, families and systems.

Many theological schools require one unit of CPE as a part of a theological degree program. Other schools accept a year of CPE as the required intern year of ministry for a theological degree program. A number of theological schools which are members of the ACPE have graduate degree programs which combine academic study and Supervisory CPE.

Objectives for Clinical Pastoral Education

CPE programs accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education mu st meet specific standards adopted by the ACPE. The objectives for Level I/Level II as stated in the ACPE Standards are as follows:

Pastoral Formation

  1. To develop students’ awareness of themselves as ministers and of the ways their ministry affects persons.
  2. To develop a student’s awareness and understanding of how their attitudes, values, assumptions, strengths and weaknesses affect their pastoral care.
  3. To develop a students’ ability to engage and apply the support, confrontation and clarification of the peer group for the integration of personal attributes and pastoral functioning.

Pastoral Competence

  1. To develop students’ awareness and understanding of how persons, social conditions, systems, and structures affect their lives and the lives of others and how to address effectively these issues through their ministry.
  2. To develop students’ skills in providing intensive and extensive pastoral care and counseling to persons.
  3. To develop students’ ability to make effective use of their religious. Spiritual heritage, the theological understanding, and knowledge of the behavioral sciences and applied clinical ethics in their pastoral care to persons and groups.
  4. To teach students the pastoral role in professional relationships and how to work effectively as a pastoral member of a multidisciplinary team.

Pastoral Reflection

  1. To develop students’ capacity to use one’s pastoral and prophetic perspectives in preaching, teaching, leadership, management, pastoral care, and professional counseling.
  2. To develop students’ understanding and ability to apply the clinical method of learning.
  3. To develop students’ abilities to use both individual and group supervision for personal and professional growth, including the capacity to evaluate one’s ministry.