Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a different way of learning. It grew out of a movement in education where case studies began to be seen as a valuable learning tool. CPE offers both theoretical and practical learning using an action reflection model where students reflect on an event in their ministry and explore the social, cultural, environmental and spiritual background to the conversation. The relational dynamic is explored as well as spiritual needs and theological issues. It aims to develop professional competence, self-awareness theological understanding and pastoral identity.
Clinical pastoral education is an adult learning model that is based on the student’s own learning goals and capacity to seek out the resources they need for the achievement of those goals. Students assess their pastoral strengths and weaknesses and develop learning goals and strategies to achieve those goals. Learning is done in a small supportive group were ministry experiences are presented and together the group explores the dynamics and possibilities that were present in the conversation. From this the student is able to formulate different strategies and possibilities in ministry to this person and in other related situations. Individual supervision is a part of the course that allows for more personalised exploration of ministry events. Topics covered in the course include empathic listening skills, grief and loss, spiritual assessment, theological reflection, ethical and cultural issues and other topic that arise within the group in the course of study.
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