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  • 14 Sep 2020 8:20 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    Ken Blank

    Medicus Rentz, Ken Blank, Jacob George

    Ken Blank and George Hull

    Ken Blank, a Diplomate in the Savannah, GA Chapter(formerly, Indian Nations - San Antonio Chapter) and past-president of CPSP, died this weekend. Ken lived in Edmond, Oklahoma with his wife of 42 years, Audrey, and was a father and grandfather, as well. Our deepest sympathy to Ken's loved ones, at this time.

    An early member of our organization, Ken made significant contributions to the prosperity of CPSP through the years, serving as the third president (2000-2002), while he was also the chair of the Southwest Region for APCE. Ken led CPSP into a conciliatory era with our collegial organizations and single-handedly requested for CPSP to be included in the Coalition on Ministry in Specialized Setting (COMISS) in December 1999 and continued to serve for several years as a delegate to COMISS. Ken was a member of the CPSP Accreditation Commission and he served on numerous committees for our community. Ken was also on the board of advisors for The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.

    In 2016, Ken spoke about his role as a chaplain in 1995 at the Oklahoma City bombing in an interview with Susan McDougall, CPSP Diplomate, and fellow chapter member, in an episode of Chaplaincy Alive, a podcast series on Pastoral Report. Ken was recognized for his work in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1997 with the Professional Service Award from the Association of Professional Chaplains. The list of Ken's contributions to clinical chaplaincy and pastoral care is numerous, for certain.

    As we get more details about the final arrangements and plans, we will share the details with the CPSP community.

    Raymond J. Lawrence, General Secretary

    09/17/20 Update: 

    Ken's family has started a Facebook group, Honoring Ken Blank, which people may visit to share their memories and express their sympathies. 

    Anyone who wishes to write Ken's chapter may contact Medicus Rentz, Convener, at Medicus tells us that he's in touch with Ken's wife, Audrey, and family. 

    A Celebration of Life will be streamed on Monday, September 21, 2–3 PM (Central time), by the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma

  • 02 Sep 2020 8:00 AM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    It was brought to the attention of the Executive Chapter of CPSP that Muslim detainees' religious rights and dignity are being violated by the U.S. Dept. of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Executive Chapter met on Aug. 28, and agreed by consensus to address this abuse. A copy of the letter that has been sent out is posted, below.

    Several news outlets have reported on this unethical treatment of detainees, and you can read more about it by clicking on one of the links: CNN, Forbes, ABCNews, and HuffPost.

    "We join in demanding that you hold all ICE officials accountable for this religious abuse and ensure that Muslims at all ICE facilities have access to unexpired halal meals." 

  • 24 Jul 2020 5:04 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)


    Netflix has put together quite a damning exposé on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Please see and read, "Trump administration tries to block release of a documentary that shows ICE agents illegally breaking into homes, eager to arrest immigrants without criminal records," by CharlesReed, Business Insider, July 24, 2020. (Remarkably, a business publication has covered this story!)

    Apparently, the documentary has struck a nerve for some. “As the documentary neared completion in recent months, the [Trump] administration fought mightily to keep it from being released until after the 2020 election. After granting rare access to parts of the country’s powerful immigration enforcement machinery that are usually invisible to the public, administration officials threatened legal action. They sought to block parts of it from seeing the light of day,” (The New York Times, July 23, 2020). Fortunately for Netflix and the public, the courts have ruled in favor of Netflix, and the series will be shown in its entirety, beginning next month (Aug. 3). It is a six-part series.

    Under Ruth Zollinger’s and my co-presidency, ICE and their reported egregious actions were real concerns. In December 2018, the Executive Chapter published a public statement in response to the abuse of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.

    I urge all of the Pastoral Report readers, especially all chaplains and pastoral psychotherapists, to watch it in its entirety. I have not yet watched this series, but I suspect that it will be very thought-provoking. Some of the themes it raises might be worthy of discussions within the chapters of CPSP. I hope all persons of conscience have the opportunity to watch the series and judge what has happened – and is likely still happening – with ICE.

    Netflix: Immigration Nation, a limited series, starts August 3.

  • 06 Jul 2020 9:20 AM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    FOREWORD. Our Administrative Coordinator, Krista Argiropolis, dug the following document out of our archives yesterday and sent it around to several persons in leadership. It is my 1999 Annual Report to the community. I was quite taken aback by the current relevance of this twenty-one-year-old document. So I have asked Krista to re-run it. I regret that it is somewhat over-written, but I suppose I have learned to write a little better two decades later. Please ignore, if you will, the prediction that I would be dead by now. I am still alive. I hope you find this ancient document both edifying and amusing. – Raymond J. Lawrence

     Raymond J. Lawrence, Jr.



    As I approach my 65th birthday, I don't feel particularly aged or worn out, but obviously, this threshold has some meaning, specifically that most of my professional work is behind me. As they say about the prospect of the impending execution, it concentrates the mind.

    Forty years ago this June, I was first ordained as a minister. For a decade or so, I was a committed parish cleric and a true-believing Episcopalian. I related to an informal network of like-minded clerics who were on the cutting edge of both social action, education, and counseling.

    My first years as a cleric were a yeasty time for me, both dynamic and creative. My disillusionment came gradually, but eventually, I learned that my place on the outer fringe of the Episcopal Church was not likely to change, that all-important decisions affecting the larger community were made by a coterie of leaders, many quite decent and liberal in ideology, but well defended against the larger community, and especially against agitators like me. For probably very complex and subtle reasons, I became unemployable by the end of my first decade. In the invisible process by which leadership is selected and rejected, I became an outsider, or more accurately, never became an insider. I was identified as a radical. Not that I actually risked all that much or was all that effective. I just got labeled that way. I was, in fact, simply a "tester of boundaries" and in those days a rather timid one at that.

    Race was one of the boundaries I probed, and in the '60s, it was a hot one. I was assistant rector in a Republican country club parish in Knoxville and thought I should go to Selma for the now-famous civil rights march in '65. My Episcopal priest boss, who was a liberal democrat, said it was okay for me to go as long as I did not return. Being at heart a prostitute, I stayed home. But my boss remembered that I wanted to go. That was enough. It wasn't long before I was asked to take my vocation elsewhere.

    In all my 40 years of clerical status in good standing, no bishop ever listened to me for more than 30 seconds. I became a nonparticipating observer of the institution as a whole. After 40 years, I have no stake whatsoever in the Episcopal Church except to be vested in the Pension Fund. Nor does the leadership want me to have any stake. If it wanted me to have a stake, the leadership would summons me and request my views.

    I am summoned once a year. An 8x11 sheet of paper arrives by post, sent by my bishop. On it are three lines: baptisms, marriages, communions. To remain in good standing, I put a number on each line, which is usually zero, and sign my name. That's all the Episcopal Church wants of me. The bishop is happy, and I'm happy. Whether the Episcopal Church goes out of business or not, and it is moving in that direction, matters very little to me. I still love what it represents, with its magnificent liturgy and the wide embrace of the Elizabethan settlement incorporating both Protestant and Catholic traditions. It grieves me that it will likely be replaced in the culture by something less substantive and less humane, but I just don't have much stake in the matter.

    In that regard, I am not unusual. Most of us in the clinical field have drifted away from our denominations.

    I have a good friend who has been a cleric for almost as long as I have. He fills out his zeros every year too. Two decades ago, he became a practicing Hindu. He goes to the Ashram several times a week, has pictures of his guru on his walls, a meditation room in his home. It's all very meaningful to him. I don't know if his bishop knows that he's joined one of the other world religions, but it probably would not matter too much. The Episcopal Church has always had a wide embrace, which is one of its virtues. But it's the embrace of a Victorian grandfather who wants to love you but would rather you keep your opinions to yourself. So my Hindu Episcopal priest friend is, like me a nonparticipating observer.

    The Episcopal Church consists of a relatively small group of leaders and a larger group of nonparticipating observers. Most everyone sitting in the pews on Sunday is a nonparticipating observer. A nonparticipating observer is not necessarily inactive. They can pray up a storm, and work to promote the local congregation, but decisions that shape the direction and values of the larger community are out of reach. It's the corporate, hierarchical, pyramidal model of authority. If you work for IBM, you are either in a small coterie of leaders who make all critical decisions, or you're a worker who is a nonparticipating observer of leadership. If you dance right, you may be elevated to the circle of leadership, but very few are chosen. I single out the Episcopal Church only because it is the one I belong to. All the major churches are organized around the same hierarchical model.

    After seven years as a parish cleric, finding myself adrift, I found my way into the clinical pastoral movement in the mid-'60s. I entered the movement by way of the Council for Clinical Training (CCT), just as it was about to merge with the Institute of Pastoral Care (IPC), and others, to make the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). The clinical pastoral movement at that time was an intimate, grassroots community in two respects. The use of the small group process in training, which we all know about and take for granted, was a liberating discovery. I found myself powerfully confronted and, at the same time, listened to, and cared for. But equally important, power and authority were vested almost entirely in regional small groups in the CCT and in the ACPE, too, in the early years of its life. I thrived. It was another one of those rare redemptive experiences.

    After the merger in the late '60s, the clinical pastoral movement evolved ever so subtly into a more corporate model. The balance of power and authority shifted from the grassroots to the central office and national commissions. Regions enlarged their memberships, and the previously meaningful shared life of the small groups vanished, except at the training level. Of course, informal networks developed, but they possessed no corporate power and were mostly impotent against the actions of the corporate office and its commissions. The consequence was the loss both of the on-going critical dimension and the caring dimension, and the loss was disastrous.

    A collateral consequence of the drift toward the corporate model was the gradual disappearance of the idiosyncratic, one-of-a-kind pastoral counselor, and clinical supervisor. When I was initiated into the clinical movement in the '60s the community was full of a whole array of the most colorful characters: Armen Jorjorian, Tom Klink, Ed Springer, John Bellinsky, George Tolson, John Smith, Dick Young, Henry Cassler, and so many others, the kind of people one would hear stories about. I think that those of you who have been around for as long as I have would agree that while the numbers of persons in the larger clinical pastoral community have increased greatly, the colors have faded. The facelessness of the corporate model has intruded into the clinical pastoral movement.

    The gradual drift toward the corporate model continued unabated in the ACPE for twenty years. In late '87, I began documenting the abuses in the ACPE Underground Report, which later became Contra Mundum. One of the first stories I published was the case of George Buck, who was an active alcoholic for decades. His excessive drinking was done openly. He was never confronted in the ACPE for his obvious alcoholism. When he got into trouble related to his drinking and lost his job, the Methodist Church conducted an intervention. His pastor, Chuck Merrill, supported by the District Superintendent, made it possible for George to enter treatment for alcoholism, loaning him money and guaranteeing him a pastorate on completion of his treatment–a critical and caring response from a quarter one least expects it. While he was a patient in treatment, the ACPE sent George a registered letter dismissing him, lifting his supervisory credentials. This was not the act of people who customarily push old women down in the street, but of corporate executives who simply act the part. They cannot do otherwise.

    The publication of The Underground Report struck a chord in the ACPE/AAPC membership and got wide circulation. But the community leadership kept strangely quiet, assuming that the problem would go away if it were ignored. After two years of silence from the corporate leadership of ACPE/AAPC, an informal group responded to an invitation published in The Underground Report and convened in a hotel room at the Houston '89 ACPE Conference to consider whether the time had come to create a new organization. (Bill Carr is the only other person still with us who was present at that meeting.)

    The consensus of those gathered was that the dehumanizing abuses and burdens of the old corporate-model certifying bodies were intolerable and that the time had indeed come to seek a new way to be together as professionals, one in which we could reclaim ownership of our professional destiny. The question was how to do this while remaining serious about and committed to our vocation and our special expertise.

    That Houston meeting authorized a call for a gathering to explore the matter. Invitations were sent out to the ACPE/AAPC communities. Fewer than a dozen persons responded initially, and we came very close to canceling the meeting. But we did meet in Roanoke, March 17, 1990–nine years ago yesterday–fifteen persons covenanted to create CPSP, and together wrote the Covenant. Eight of those fifteen remain with us: Bill Carr, Perry Miller, Don Gum, Jarvis McMillan, Al Anderson, David Moss, and Chappell Wilson. Had we known in advance how few would persevere, we would never have begun. But for everyone who has lost interest, many more have appeared from nowhere.


    Our Chapter-based organization is neither accidental nor tangential but central to the basic theological and philosophical posture of CPSP. I think this is not widely understood even by our own membership. The Chapter is the single most effective antidote to a corporate, pyramidal, hierarchical system. Virtually all power and authority rests in small grassroots communities. Chapters can do almost anything, and some have.

    The basic theological and philosophical posture is the claim that authority to function as a pastoral counselor and supervisor resides close to home, with a small group of persons who presumably care about your welfare and have promised in the Covenant to tell you the truth as they see it, and perhaps even more tellingly, link their reputation with yours by accepting and credentialing you. Conversely, your authority to function does not rest in the hands of a committee of persons who neither know you nor care about you and, in fact, are typically concerned mostly about the public image of the corporation itself.

    The corporate, hierarchical model may sometimes work for a business where the objective is the maximization of profits, but it is alienating in the arena of the spirit. It tends to shape the community in such a way as to force everyone into one of two categories of persons: power brokers and nonparticipating observers.

    Most of the networks to which you and I belong consist of two classes of persons: power brokers, often very nice ones, and nonparticipating observers. Virtually every Christian church today is so organized. If you fail to get the power brokers on your side, you remain forever a nonparticipating observer in the direction of the larger community.

    Persons become nonparticipating observers in inverse proportion to the degree to which they have a stake in an enterprise. Most of us who work in institutions as nonparticipating observers, continually watching over our shoulders for the power brokers, sometimes able to do very creative things in our little islands off the beaten track but essentially alienated from decision-making on matters that shape the life and work of the larger institution. That description characterizes my place in practically every organization I belong to, and I believe that you all could say the same.

    CPSP has no place for nonparticipating observers. The Covenant does not permit such. When you become an observer, you are no longer with us. You either take full possession of your own professional destiny in your Chapter, or you are not one of us.

    CPSP is not just another organization to belong to. It's a theological and philosophical awakening. It is the disenfranchisement of the power brokers, however genteel, and the end of passive compliance on matters that affect your right to practice an effective ministry. It is part of a larger cultural malaise that is an inspiring revolt against loss of stake in our destiny, an epidemic in the political arena.

    This country is bereft of a sense of community in all spheres. A rapidly intensifying sense that we have no stake in anything that is happening is spreading like a virus. The great majority see no point even in voting. There is very little sense of contributing something to the common good. Everyone races for his own little economic security, the community be damned.

    The Chapter model actually has the potential to create a profound renewal in this country, in politics as well as religion. Congregations should be organized on a Chapter model. Imagine a congregation in which there were no nonparticipating observers, but one in which each person had a stake in the direction of the larger community.

    Some of our critics have applauded our chapter model because it promotes collegiality and care in a small group context, but they object to Chapters possessing the authority to certify. The Chapter as a support group without real authority to act is mere sentimentality. Perhaps we are all so housebroken that we can hardly believe that authority is ours for the taking. We keep waiting for some bishop to sign off on our authority. We are locked in that pyramid model. People frequently ask me, "Is it acceptable for us in our Chapter to do thus and so?" That's the wrong question. Asking for permission is infantile. It is not worthy of persons of authority. Read the Covenant, make your own best judgment as a Chapter, and tell us what you plan to do, and finally be receptive to the feedback of the larger community.

    We need desperately to deconstruct the pyramid where authority rests at the pinnacle and loving care allegedly at the base. Paul Tillich deconstructed that pyramid fifty years ago when he taught us that love without power is sentimentality, power without love is abuse, and that justice can be achieved only when the two are united. In Chapters, we unite love and power as our best hope for justice.


    I continue to be concerned about the fact that the enterprise we do so well with trainees we are so hesitant to use with each other. We are quite competent at unraveling psychodynamic and theological issues between a pastoral trainee and a parishioner or patient, but we are hesitant to apply the same rigorous analytic eye to community leadership and our own organizational structure. In a community, each part is affected by the whole. No one does effective individual supervision or counseling in a highly dysfunctional context.

    As an extreme example, individual counseling oriented toward personal liberation, self-expression, self-actualization in Stalinist Russia would be a set-up for life in a labor camp. Community values and the nature of leadership affect each relationship. All of our work is affected in part by values in the larger culture, and we must take them into account. Likewise, leadership in CPSP shapes all who commit to the CPSP community.

    We monitor our trainees so well. But the clinical pastoral movement has never monitored its own leadership. Rather than a rational analytic eye on leadership, the clinical pastoral movement has almost from the beginning cast its leaders either as devils or angels, fostering unanalyzed projections. Boisen was scapegoated, first by Richard Cabot and the IPC, and ultimately by the Council for Clinical Training itself. The CCT had no room for Boisen in its leadership. Tellingly, when Boisen made a request for a research grant of $3000 in the '40s, he was turned down, a decision that appears in retrospect as disgraceful.

    All effective leadership brings to the fore creative elements mixed with pathological tendencies. We all know the field well. We apply it so seldom to our own shared life.

    I urge all Chapters to place first on their agenda a reflection on the psychopathology of their own conveners, neither scapegoating nor idealizing the leadership, but seriously and candidly reviewing the quality of their leadership. This will foster more serious mutual self-examination, which is the lifeblood of Chapter life.

    We must continually weigh our own leadership, including me, by the benchmarks of intelligence, honesty, capacity for sustained object relations, and a dose of the darker attributes as well. Audacity is a dangerous attribute, but not much very interesting occurs without it. Our leaders need enough narcissism to remain aloof from the approval of others, and enough paranoia to be suspicious of others' motives, lest the power brokers undo us. Leaders without a measure of audacity, narcissism, and paranoia are useless.

    The tragedy of Clinton is the failure of a reservoir of narcissism and a shortage of paranoia. He has so many gifts, but his need for approval–that shortfall of self-love–has left him vulnerable to his enemies. So he appears still running for office as if he doesn't believe he is the most powerful political figure in the world today.

    In 1992, I attempted to send word through a friend who is a Clinton intimate that he could be shot just as his role model, John F. Kennedy, if he did not bring to heel the covert forces of rage that fester in this country, especially with their tentacles in the military, spy, and police agencies. My friend thought I was too paranoid. As we know, of course, Clinton was not shot. But the forces I referred to have eviscerated his administration. My paranoia, on his behalf, was accurate.

    The fact that Linda Tripp was a White House staff person in the early Clinton presidency reveals an insufficiency of paranoia. As a holdover from the Bush administration, she should have been under suspicion of principle. Surely anyone interviewing her or observing her would have picked up her pathology. Clinton was not able to protect himself from his enemies right in the White House.

    But the Pentagon leadership obviously thinks highly of Linda Tripp. Her salary has been raised from the '60s to the '90s since her betrayal of Monica Lewinsky, and she has permission to work at home because of her notoriety. Who can believe that her value to the Pentagon has increased by 50% even though she works at home because of her notoriety? If Clinton cannot protect himself against relentless enemies among his own White House employees, and from the leadership of the Pentagon, how can he protect the nation? As he is weakened through a failure of paranoia, the entire nation is weakened.

    CPSP needs leaders with just enough paranoia to read signs of threats to the community, to identify the Linda Tripps and Kenneth Starrs of the clinical pastoral world. Defenselessness is no virtue. We also need leaders who, unlike Clinton, have enough narcissism or self-love to stand up to widespread disapproval from a fickle public and sometimes our own fickle colleagues.

    Even more importantly, we need as a community to be in continuing reflection and conversation about the strengths and psychopathology of all our leadership. Not to do so is to set ourselves to be blindsided by future developments.

    By leadership, I do not mean simply those persons holding offices. Leadership is fluid in CPSP and is there for the taking. We continuously await the emergence of new leadership. We hope for the vigorous younger ones among us to find their voice and point the way ahead.

    The purpose of our Tavistock-style meeting of the group as a whole here at this Plenary is to promote precisely that fact, that leadership is a movable feast. Any voice can be heard. Reflection on the shape of CPSP leadership in all its manifestations is subject for discussion. The group as a whole will determine the direction of the reflection and conversation. This is one of the ways we can start doing for ourselves what we have always done so well for our trainees, and in the process, invite new leadership to emerge, without which a community withers and dies.


    The most alarming recent trend in our field is the present widespread campaign to disempower clergy from the work of pastoral counseling. The campaign is driven by the insurers and their concern to protect church property. The success of this campaign will mean the evisceration of the ministry as a respected profession.

    No one gets sued for fundraising, preaching, leading prayer meetings, or spiritual direction. Ordinarily, one gets sued only for something that has weight or has a significant effect.

    Ministers who share fantasies about what God is thinking about, or speculate on what life after death will be like, or who revisit the cosmic drama of how Jesus came to earth for a visit some time back, never get sued.

    If a minister attempts to assist another in deciphering what's wrong with a marriage or to decide whether to quit a bad job, or whether to take a lover, or whether to submit to the demands of parents... this is dangerous territory. These are the kinds of problems people had brought to ministers for centuries, long before psychology was even invented. Take away the authority of the minister to engage in such counseling, and we will destroy the ministry as a profession. Better for churches to lose every building in America to creditors than to give up the pastoral counseling role as the principal tool in the pastor's armamentarium. Let the creditors take the buildings. The churches can rent the space back.

    I remember, as a teenager, my Methodist minister serving as pastoral counselor to me in Portsmouth in the '40s. He gave me far more than the recently established ludicrous limit of three sessions, and he never referred me for psychological testing. I doubt a psychologist even could have been found in Portsmouth at the time. This pastor–Mahlon Elliot was his name–was so significant to my finding an even keel in adolescence that I decided to follow him and become a minister. The congregation thought I was following Jesus. I don't remember much about his preaching, and nothing about his fundraising or didactics. He didn't seem to pray much. I do not know if he was clinically trained, but he listened well, said little, and I got through. And I always felt he saved my life at a critical juncture.

    We must not let ministers be shorn of the pastoral counseling role! Rather we must prepare them better, train them clinically, help them to know their limitations, and when to refer. The best ones will develop into wise and skillful counselors like Carlisle Marney, Myron Madden, and Wayne Oates. Some of the best psychotherapists alive today have come from the parish ministry.

    The clinical pastoral movement in the past has grossly neglected the front-line clergy in the trenches, viewing them as a source of clients or a market for fundraising. In fact, they are our future, not to be exploited or abused. The more we demean them, who are already demeaned enough, the more we degrade ourselves.

    So CPSP certifies as "Pastoral Counselor" any appropriately educated minister who has also been clinically trained. But we do so for only so long as that minister continues to grow and develop clinical expertise and self-awareness through collegial relationships in the context of a Chapter.

    We in no way wish to devalue the specialty of pastoral counseling, which we refer to in CPSP as "pastoral psychotherapy." Like the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, we promote that specialty. Some persons, including many among us, have a special talent and vocation for full-time pastoral psychotherapy. But our valuing of the specialty does not permit us to disempower front line clergy from the pastoral counseling task. We must speak loud and clear to the religious community of this country this message: Any minister is a pastoral counselor from the first day she begins work. Nothing a minister does is more important than the cure of souls, that task which is done mostly one-to-one, in private, involving sensitive self-disclosure, and for which introductory clinical training is essential.

    Our future probably belongs to the Pastoral Counselors. The health care industry, which has for 75 years been the home of the clinical pastoral movement, is increasingly subverted by mercantile objectives. Where profits are the ultimate objective, there will likely be less and less room for the kind of work we do. As Perry Miller has been arguing, it may be time to return to our original home base, the local religious congregation.

    The decision to offer Pastoral Counselor certification may well have been the most important decision CPSP made in its nine-year history. To ministers who seek such expertise belongs the future not only of CPSP but of the religious community in this country.

    We in CPSP need to do more for the Pastoral Counselor Chapters, assisting them in getting started and offering guidance in shaping their Chapter life.

    5. SUMMARY

    Our early years were ones of strife with our collegial communities. In the past year, using his guileless, magnanimous goodwill, Ken Blank has led us into a new conciliatory era with our collegial organizations. He has been the right man for the right time. I hope this means we will have years of mutual respect and dialogue between CPSP and our collegial communities. Ken has led us to sheath our swords. It is, of course, too early to beat them into plowshares. There are still too many who believe we have no right to exist, who judge us to be illegitimate, who contend that our "sacraments are not valid," and that everyone in our field must march to the same drummer. So as we benefit from peace and strive to further promote it, let us also remain vigilant.

    In relation to the future, we are all beggars. Twenty years from now, maybe less, all of the original CPSP leadership will be dead or palsied, good for little more than speaking into a camcorder for the historical record. CPSP or whatever alphabet is functioning by then must be weighed in the same balance that inspired the vision of the fifteen nine years ago.

    Reposted from Pastoral Report, May 17, 1999.

  • 24 Jun 2020 8:59 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    We're taking a moment to share a 17-minute video by Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales (many Christian parents and people raised in Christian homes will know about this series). Vischer gives viewers context as to why we see what we see in today's socio-political climate. For those of us who are trying to understand what's going on today, it explains the rage, the violence, the hopelessness, and despair that we are seeing. It gives us multiple historical contexts of how we, as a nation, have arrived at this juncture. And while you may not have experienced any of this, if you are looking to relate to what others have experienced, you may benefit from taking a few minutes to listen to this video. 

  • 17 Jun 2020 9:33 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    Note: Originally published in Pastoral Report, 29-Nov. 2017. Republished on 17-June 2020 in response to the recent article, Call to Arms by Raymond J. Lawrence, General Secretary

    The following is a brief excerpt from the 90-minute seminar I presented in 2012 in Malibu and in 2015 in Chicago on “Anton Boisen (1876-1965): Clinician”:

    “The Rev. Dr. Anton Theophilus Boisen (1876-1965), according to a recent book, ‘was not at all interested in psychotherapy …’. [Myers-Shirk SE. Helping the Good Shepherd: Pastoral Counselors in a Psychotherapeutic Culture: 1925-1975. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. p.30]. How anyone could have studied Boisen’s writings and come to such an erroneous conclusion I do not know. Boisen definitely was interested in psychotherapy. That being said, neither I nor anyone else, apparently, directly has portrayed Boisen in his role as a clinician.”

    “One part of the problem, of course, is that Boisen already is viewed as a sociologist/ psychologist of religion, as a theologian/ psychiatric investigator – not to mention as a language-teacher/ translator/ forester.  Another part of the problem is that Boisen believed in treating ‘official’ patients and novice theologs in the same manner. He believed in trying to point those who were suffering, bewildered, or vulnerable – for whatever reason – in the right direction – in fact, in trying to get them to aim high – but he was not going to do the work for them or to hand them ready-made answers.  Becoming one’s best as a clinical pastoral chaplain was an individual task, albeit one that benefited the entire world. Too many would-be clinical pastoral chaplains, he believed, wanted ‘to be told at once what to do’ – and wanted ‘rules of procedures … [to] apply’. He believed they should discover for themselves the meaning of the different forms of illness and that psychotherapy depended less on technique than on caring relationships between people. [Boisen, Exploration of the Inner World, pp.239, 240] Boisen did not try teaching psychotherapy per se; he did try encouraging 

     genuine interest in     

    the patient and his [or her] problems

    – as well as [in]   

    the discovery and solving of    

    the patient’s actual difficulties

    [Boisen, The Exploration of the Inner World (1936), p.245]


    Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD


    Editor's Note: Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD, is the leading historian of the clinical pastoral movement. Many of his published writings are posted on the Pastoral Report. Readers can use the search field, located in the upper right corner of the website, to locate his articles. As a practicing psychiatrist, his writings reflect his daily investment in his clinical practice of providing psychotherapy and care to his patients. Contact Dr. Powell by clicking his name, above. -- Perry Miller, Editor

  • 08 Jun 2020 11:51 AM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    You received a lot of material in the Pastoral Report last week, both Robert Powell’s Dunbar Award presentation and Jennifer Harper’s even longer document, her acceptance speech on receiving the 2020 Helen Flanders Dunbar Award. All of us should read both as vitally important documents concerning our life together.

    But I want to pass on to you what Robert Powell wrote to me yesterday via email: “Tell the community to read Jennifer Harper’s paper without fail.” It is so long that it is in two sections. As Robert Powell says, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about our discipline, our community, and our future.

    What Jennifer Harper does is to link pastoral care unambiguously with psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. She does this as only a person in her position can do– this our future– this is the future of CPSP, if we are to have a future at all.

    We should have known this all along. Boisen told us a century ago that a clinically trained minister can do anything a psychiatrist can do. (Of course, we don’t prescribe drugs, and arguably psychiatrists should not either.) But we have developed amnesia about Anton Boisen. We have buried him in the history books, to our significant loss.

    We must cut ourselves off from the prayer-warrior chaplaincy mentality and become the pastoral psychotherapists that we should already be. If we continue in the prayer warrior chaplain mode, as exemplified in virtually all the current literature of our so-called cognate organizations, we will all personally suffer the fate of the unicorn. You and I will soon become extinct.

    We must all become pastoral psychotherapists, and we must learn to get comfortable with that label. And we must do that soon. Not next year. Not in the next century, but now. Whether you are a Clinician or a Diplomate, you must reclaim the identity of a pastoral psychotherapist that Anton Boisen assigned us. You may be a novice pastoral psychotherapist, or you may be an experience pastoral psychotherapist. But you must be one or the other. Psychotherapy is the Greek word for the “cure of souls.” It’s our calling, our vocation. For generations, we have let the medical doctors take it away from us. If you are not doing the work of curing souls, AKA psychotherapy, you need to find other work. A psychotherapist heals principally through listening, not through talking and praying. When you’re talking and praying, you’re not listening.

    We all understand that It may not be easy to reframe our work in an institutional context, especially when some nurse says to us, “Go say a little prayer over Mr. Smith in room 101. He’s upset.” We cannot as a profession continue to go around, saying little prayers over people. Prayers can be comforting to people, but they cannot be a substitute for listening. Institutions will discover, if they haven’t already, that they can train a retired short-order cook and high school graduate in a couple of days to take on such a task as praying over patients and do it as well as we can. It takes a very well-trained person actually to listen and do the work of pastoral psychotherapy.

    Jennifer Harper is pointing the way forward. She has joined our community with delight and hope. We must allow her to help us get up to speed, as only someone like her can do. She is teaching psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as we speak. And she is a minister with an M.Div. Jennifer’s joining us and requesting credentials from CPSP is an enormous blessing and opportunity.

    The great psychoanalyst of the twentieth century and close colleague of Anton Boisen, Harry Stack Sullivan, used to train his more promising orderlies with no formal education to function as beginning level psychotherapists. If all you Clinicians and Diplomates do not reframe your thinking and language very soon, Sullivan will return from the grave and give your jobs to his orderlies. We in CPSP already have excellent preparation and training. But we lack the audacity and self-assuredness to declare what we can do. Even Freud argued that one does not need a Ph.D. or an M.D. degree to become a competent psychotherapist or psychoanalyst.

    If I seem a bit over the top in this short epistle, I think I see the future, and I fear what’s at stake. If we amble along doing things, as usual, praying over people and moving on down the road, I fear there will be no future for us as a discipline.

    Jennifer Harper, Robert Powell, and others among us like them can lead us in a new direction, and to a new future, and a clearer and stronger pastoral psychotherapeutic identity. We need only give them permission and make use of their wisdom. Time is of the essence.


    Raymond J. Lawrence
    General Secretary

  • 05 Jun 2020 1:08 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    We, the professional pastoral care community called the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy, call on communities of faith, the clergy of all traditions, and all conscientious people of goodwill to condemn the racism, violence, and hatred that have overtaken us as a nation.

    We call on the President of the U.S. to stand down the Army, to abandon his order of using machine guns with bayonets against our fellow Americans, to repent of misusing military troops and D.C. Police Department to clear paths of peaceful protesters using tear gas and rubber bullets to create photo opportunities in front of a house of faith without permission to do so. We call on him to cease using the Christian Bible or the sacred scriptures of any faith as props. We also call on him to cease using divisive and violence-inciting language such as demanding the “domination” of peaceful protesters, and calling them “domestic terrorists.”

    We call on the nation’s Governors to resist sending armed troops to violently put down peaceful protesters. We call on the Governors to thoroughly investigate who is really behind much of the violence and destruction of property.

    We call upon the great people of this nation to exercise patience, tolerance, and kindness with respect to their fellow Americans during this time of unrest. We need to stop, listen, and reflect. As one past President has recently stated, “It is time for America to examine our tragic failures” (Link).

    David Plummer, Chair, CPSP Accreditation Commission

    On behalf of the Executive Chapter of CPSP:

    Jonathan Freeman, Co-President, Diplomates

    Elizabeth Grobmyer, Co-President, Clinicians

    Raymond J. Lawrence, General Secretary

    Charles Kirby, Co-Treasurer

    Juan Loya, Co-Treasurer

    David Plummer, Chair, Accreditation Commission

    Asnel Valcin, Chair, Certification Committee

    Cynthia Olson, Chair, Standards Committee

    Ed Luckett, Jr., Administrator

    A Statement Against Racism and Injustice by the CPSP Executive Chapter [PDF]

  • 04 Jun 2020 5:02 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

     Jennifer R. Harper, MDiv, DD, NCPsyA

    The HeART of Conversation, and Care

    Conference: College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy
    Sunday, March 1, 2020, Afternoon Plenary Keynote Address,
    The Westin Hotel, Times Square, New York City


    I’d like to acknowledge my own introduction to CPSP last winter, specifically on February 23rd. At the invitation of Parthenia (Tina) Caesar, I spoke to a gathering of CPSP members at their meeting which was held in Harlem, here in NYC. The meeting was sponsored by the Harlem Family Institute. I met Tina through Michael Connolly, President of HFI (here today) and it was at that gathering where I met your very own, Raymond Lawrence.

    That whole day began a wonderful conversation between us all about CPSP and the early CPE movement. I learned of what you have been doing for these past 30 years now.. and I must say, I was struck to re-discover the cultural roots of the CPE movement that had shaped my CPE supervisors - and my own experience of hospital chaplaincy during seminary. Upon graduating from Seminary, I began my training in psychoanalysis. Simultaneously, I was aware that the CPE movement was being adopted by the ACPE organization that defines so many of our hospital settings today; and frankly, in the midst of these traffic circles, I lost track of your (CPSP) journey. So, all these years between then and now, while I’ve been teaching and practicing at the intersection of Psyche and Religion, teaching about Pastoral Care and Psychoanalysis, I was quite delighted to discover that CPSP had been born of that transitional time for Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, and that it is very alive and pursuing its mission to preserve Anton Boisen’s original vision: Keeping the Soul in Focus, with Care. So, here we are, lost and found, and after all these years, re-united! I’m delighted to be here with you..


    As I considered this conference today and wondered what might be useful to offer into your larger conversation for the weekend, I thought about the various and many settings in which we Carers, provide Care. Whether in the sanctuary of Clergy offices, or psychotherapy clinics and private consulting rooms, or as chaplains at the bedside of a struggling soul in hospital, or on their path to the transformation we call death. I would like to add to this, teachers and students in educational settings of all ages.. We Carers, offer ourselves into these spaces and we are asked to hold so many stories and to be present in so many known (and unknown) ways... with others, always finding a way to Care.

    I found myself mulling over the many and common challenges that we share, across this great bridge of Caring, and I considered what might join our mutual concerns for the ministries in these spaces, as a focus for our attention today: How do WE vitalize and re-fresh What we are doing, and How we are doing that?

    Related to this, I also reflected on the many and complex issues that confront us as we work to offer our best Care, and was reminded of a central concern that I believe we all appreciate. This concern relates to the rapidly growing influence of ‘professionalism’ and ‘corporate interest’ in what we do. Of course, this is not News. We’ve all experienced these forces in our various settings where we work to educate, train, and offer these specialized versions of Care that we loosely term as Pastoral and Therapeutic, and very human, in their natures.

    Our rich history of Pastoral Care (I will suggest), is slayed by what we face today. The neatly organized categories of Care that were codified with terminologies and prescriptives for their dispensation - for the assuagement of suffering – as far back as our ancient sages and through the middle ages of the Roman Church, the Reformation and forward again, through the 19th century of Protestantism – these prescriptives (like, religio, socio-cultural remnants) for spiritual care, offer us pathways for understanding the evolution of pastoral theologies that fade into parochialism when faced with our modern challenges for Caring, today: we live in the midst of endless distractions and forces that fragment ourSelves daily as we seek to live between the many and often conflicting compartments of our own lives. These wonderfully rendered theologies for Care (given to us through history) don’t work in our vocational spaces today.1 Anton Boisen, as we know, was the great Reformer of these former dispensations for addressing the sick and suffering. And he helped us to reimagine how to be with one another, In witness to the suffering of Soul.

    I want to focus my talk today on the overwhelming impingements that we all share in our respective vocations and settings today, and to propose a possibility for resisting these incursions on us all. I will suggest some ways for strengthening ourSelves, in spiritual and tangible ways, that I believe can deepen. 

    In a brief overview of our current challenges:

    We have Chaplains with logs to fill of visits for which there is never enough time to be at true leisure with their patients. The burden of ‘demonstrating’ their value to the bottom line of in-hospital care, aligned with ‘evidence-based’ practices and their requirements for record-keeping (in and of itself this becomes a new game of deadening ‘docu-speak’) -- how we document the patient conversation: with protections for ourselves, the institution, and the patient in mind, too easily becomes a kind of prophylactic against real connection. The subtlety of this relational erosion lies in the directional flow of its philosophy, which seeks to shape our practices of Care into measurable conformities that evade and subvert our unique and idiomatic Selves. How we ‘show up’ for others, in this environment, has become ‘monetized’.

    The impingements to learning with verbatims in these environments, is quite real. To even write a verbatim for the purpose of learning, for God’s sake, one must have had a real Conversation.

    Clergy who are often half-time at best, in dwindling congregations, are expected to care for whole flocks of souls and to prepare sermons for Shabbat and Sunday mornings, as well. This leaves little time for teaching and guiding our youth with our time and nurture for their challenges of growing up in schools and religious communities; and even less to be invested in the ancient tradition of offering ourselves, as Curers of Souls, in these congregations.

    Students seeking further education in these vocations find themselves facing myriad pressures; family obligations, financial stress, multiple jobs in a gig economy; shrinking chaplaincy departments, clergy in under-resourced communities, increasing numbers of adjunct faculty in our institutions of higher learning – we are all faced with the fundamental challenge of creating non- anxious environments for healing, growing, and learning.

    Teachers, mentors, and supervisors, who cannot offer the time that is required for the slow brew of conversational rapport so essential for students to be become seasoned and steeped in the slow broth of learning – the kind of learning that is central to establishing real foundations of Self. A Self that lives at home within us, the Self that is central to our various and vocational identities, as Carers..

    Having said all of that.. I want to reassure you that my intention today is not to leave us in a place of despair.. however, I believe we must look at these forces, and give them our attention, to better understand how we might strengthen ourselves against their corrosive effects. So, bear with me just a bit more as I shift our focus to speak of some related forces that also threaten our capacities for Care.

    We are experiencing an unprecedented assault on our very ability to communicate. Rapidly advancing technologies bring us into instant and constant contact; yet, we (as individuals and society) are suffering from a lack of real connecting – within the communities where we live, the institutional cultures in which we work, and within the intimacy of our closest relationships. We need only to read the news to learn of the growing epidemic of young people taking their own lives. And while there are many and complex reasons that lie behind this tragic unfolding for our society, we are left to wonder and challenged to understand!.. how are we failing to give our young people lives of experiences and the capacity to bond deeply in their relationships with others, to foster their strength for attachment and membership within our human family; quite literally growing their emotional tenacity for Hanging On... to the group!

    On another front...

    How many of you have had a sense of disorientation after a long day of reading and writing emails (digital communications) with the back and forth of ‘talking’ with real human beings through cryptic and evolving new languages of virtual space – (emoticons!) it can leave us spent with a vague sense of not having been part of anything actually ‘felt’, through otherwise personal contact. We may later see the person with whom we’ve exchanged our important emails, but we’ve missed out on the feeling of being IN that conversation, together.. Very subtly we are deprived of our own growth that is uniquely stimulated by encouraging the tendrils of human bonds. Like blades of new grass, these tentative tendrils of human connecting are best nourished when we are with another person. Only this proximity of ourSelves, in real time and flesh, can offer the richest soil for nourishing what we all crave of this palpable connecting of which I speak. We call it Presence.

    [Personally, I think this has a lot to do with being next to each other, in our bodies! There’s a lot of energy - in and around our bodies – the delicate network of these communication systems that weave their magnetic field through and around our flesh, these highly tuned ‘signal systems’ .. they are blunted in virtual space. But that is for another talk.. ]

    Even the information we exchange in this virtual space can elude location in our memory. If you have ever noticed that you suffer from this ‘digital dementia’, of remembering content, but not recalling from whom or where you learned of it.. You’re not alone. Our daily distractions combined with information overload, create the ‘slick’ on these virtual platforms that become breeding grounds for facile relating (even more than Fake news!), leaving us veiled with a sense of disorientation to our inter-personal worlds, with feelings of social dissatisfaction. We feel accomplished, we get our tasks done. Our emails are answered, everything is tidy .. yet, we feel lingering traces of ‘meh’. Living life behind this ‘plexiglass’ of seeing through to the other with whom we are ‘speaking’, we too are seen, yet, not ‘felt’ with true connection. This sensory distortion has the effect of fillers added to cheap breakfast cereal to simulate the texture of whole grains: we are satiated, but deprived of real nutrients that nourish our feelings needed for strengthening the human bonds that grow us into larger versions of ourSelves... this strength of bonding among us creates the biome of our social and emotional immune system. These are the building blocks of our resilience, and they are critical for us to thrive..

    It takes courage to be Up Close; to really be, with one another.

    While this all may sound overstated and benign, it’s really not. A steady diet of digital relating distorts our appetites for human relationship. It fobs off our desire for real depth of human connection: the true quenching waters of soulFull exchange. Our deepest desires for human relating, get hi-jacked. Pornography is one, pervasive example of this hi-jacking of our desire: seeking to find the ecstasy of intimacy through our bodies, with images alone.. Pornography thrives on our fear of being with, and of being known to Another.. Our addictions and compulsions, fueled in these virtual environments, detour the real drives of our desire, gripping them into spiritually deadly feedback loops that cauterize our ability to grow and flourish.

    We become misaligned with people whom we call family and friends. How many times are serious misunderstandings and hurt feelings fostered through texts and emails that flatten and miscarry this felt sense of the presence of our intent. In our vulnerability as human beings, with our deep need for emotionally rich connections with other humans, we lose our way when navigating the flat- scape of our virtual worlds where our emotional antennae can betray us as we pick up fuzzy signals. We are gradually losing our courage for the deep conversations required for real connection, and living lives of inter-personal richness. It becomes easier to hide from and to ignore each other. In social passings, our eyes avert, greetings are not forthcoming, text messages are unreturned. Young people do not speak on their phones. It is more expedient to send brief, encoded inquiries, or not. We hear of ‘ghosting’ in the brave new world of dating. The cutoffs of new tendrils of our relating that strive to connect in virtual time and space, shatter real hearts, by this failure to acknowledge one another, in fact and existence.

    In these manifest results of our Electronic-Lives, like our accommodations over time of degrading ‘new normals’, we become smaller versions of ourselves.

    We become afraid of one another: afraid to engage. We become afraid, to speak. We are afraid of having Conversation...

    Conversation is powerful. Conversation grows us.. we are changed by it.

    Sherry Turkle, a Sociologist and a licensed Clinical Psychologist at MIT, has studied the impact of technologies on human relationships for over 30 years, specifically their influence on our human capacity for ‘empathy’. In her acclaimed study on Empathy, she was called in to consult with the faculty of an Eastern, private middle school. Her study began on a retreat with the faculty who poured out to her their observations of their students. According to her Study Diaries, the Dean of the School reported to Turkle, “These kids aren’t cruel. But they are not emotionally developed. Twelve-year olds play on the playground like 8 year-olds. The way they exclude each other is the way 8 year olds would play. They don’t seem able to put themselves in each other’s place. They say to other students: ‘you can’t play with us’.” ... “They are not developing that way of relating where they listen and learn how to look at each other and hear each other.” (Turkle, pgs, 5-6).2 A psychoanalyst would suggest that they are failing to understand and interpret ‘affect’, which is critical for growing their capacity for interpersonal relationship: in plain English, they aren’t ‘reading’ each other emotionally – which is crucial for developing the capacity for Empathy.

    The study is fascinating and I recommend her book to you, titled, ‘Reclaiming Conversation, The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. I won’t delve further into the details of her study here, because our focus is related, but elsewhere, but I can say that the study revealed an alarming sense of relational ‘miscarriage’ that is rising in our culture today. A kind of ‘canary in the coal mine’ feeling that we as a society are quite literally becoming ‘unhinged’ from each other: disconnected. In our race to grow more environments of digitally simulated contact with each other, we are losing (and I would suggest, not growing) the inter-personal strength that is needed for creating and building real human relationships and attachments. We are free-falling through the very human networks that we need to thrive and grow, ourSelves.

    Psychoanalysis brings a specific and particular lens to how we develop our wonderful Selves. The essential techniques, or tools, of this craft make use of the ongoing transference and countertransference (present in all human relationships), and Resistance. Our resistance to knowing what we do not want to know. These points of defined engagement create boundaries within which this ‘specialized’ conversation can unfold. Analyzing the transference and counter- transference, by analyst and analysand, with techniques to elucidate the latent content of our dreams, reveals a kind of forensics of the anatomy of ‘mind’ – our conscious and unconscious ‘mind’ - emerges. In the back and forth of this boundaried relating (the analytic dyad), a renewed and developing sense of Self may emerge. The ruptures and the reparations that unfold over time in this ‘specialized conversation’ serve to revise old narratives that have fed our operating selves. Over time, the earlier version of ourSelves may undergo many shifts of growth and renewal as the healing of old (self) wounds contributes to an expanding sense of ourSelves; in process, Growing .. again.. If this all sounds a bit technical as a method for growing ourselves; it’s really not. This process happens between two real human beings, in a room, together. And both are changed by it... every time.

    Religion reminds us that Prayer can grow, and change us.

    Prayer is a practice that all religions acknowledge. Prayer brings us into focus: in prayer, the fragments of ourselves are gathered and they center our awareness on how things really stand within us. Prayer is a pathway for intimate conversation between us and our God that can grow us into larger, clearer versions of ourSelves as we seek to respond to the God who is always seeking Us. In real prayer, we cannot avoid ourselves; our pettiness and our trespasses float through our awareness. The ebb and flow of our hopes and fears, are met: in prayer; we see ourselves as we are and face these places in us where we hide from knowing and being known more truthfully, with our God, and others.

    Ann and Barry Ulanov write about this voluptuous conversation in their gem of a book titled, Primary Speech. ‘If we are listening, to the other side of this conversation,’ [to the Other who seeks to be known to US], ‘we are pull[ed] into a life of.. unceasing abundance, .. ‘Prayer takes us into our central self’, ..‘and through it into the very origin of all self. This [primary] speech of our prayer [of our unedited selves, reflects to] us .. new life for psyche and soul that comes [alive] when we open [our hearts] to the One who [waits for us] knocking...’ (Ulanov, pg. 9)3

    Our western culture has lost a strong connection to understanding the intimacy and power of this particular conversation.

    Prayer may not change God, (although, I would suggest that it does!) but it can change our understanding of God. Prayer changes us. Prayer grow us into better versions of ourselves. Prayer heals our brokenness, and our relationships with others; When everything else fails, there is still Prayer.

    In a short and brilliant article, ‘Beyond co-existence to mutual influence: an interdisciplinary method for psychoanalysis and religion,’ psychoanalyst and Episcopal Priest, the Rev. Amy Lamborn discusses the interdisciplinary relationship of psychoanalysis and religion. She writes, ‘I envision psychoanalysis and religion, as near neighbors, moving along a space of shared concern. This space is the location of our desire and effort to reach toward a sure and certain abundance of life; to respond with all our heart, soul, and strength to the holy Presence which ever summons us (Deut 6:5). It is the place from which we struggle to know and become [ourSelves], to live authentically and creatively, and to be grasped by what [Paul] Tillich calls our ‘ultimate concern’ (1963). In this shared frontier between psychoanalysis and religion there [is] a mutual regard for the fullness of human being and living, the opening of the self in/to freedom, and the [possibility of] receiving that which is renewing and enlivening.’ (Lamborn, pg. 518)4

    Psychoanalysis and Religion, are unique in their conversation: each, uniquely, deal directly with the mind’s capacity to make symbolic meaning of our experience of suffering. Through separate and related pathways, each practice wants for us to become the greatest versions of ourSelves... [CBT and Solution focused therapies are rationally based disciplines that fail to resolve real suffering. True suffering is only requited through our capacity for symbolization; our ability to make meaning of that which is held in the boundaries of paradox.]


    Due to the length of Ms. Harper's presentation, we are unable to publish it in its entirety but have linked the PDF version of it below, for your reading pleasure.  

    To continue reading 
    The HeART of Conversation, and Care,
    please download the PDF
    of Ms. Harper's presentation: 


    Jennifer R. Harper, MDiv, DD, NCPsyA, LP, Director of the Interfaith Doctor of Ministry Program for Pastoral Care at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion, NY Campus. She is a faculty member at the Blanton-Peale Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and a former Dean of Training at the Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, A past-President of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, she is currently Chair of the American Board for Accreditation in Psychoanalysis. Ms. Harper received her Masters of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in NYC and her certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Westchester Institute. She is in private practice in NYC and Bergen County, NJ. 

    Ms. Harper is the recent recipient of the Helen Flanders Dunbar Award for Significant Contributions in the Field of Psychotherapy, and was presented the award at the 2020 CPSP Plenary in March. 

  • 31 May 2020 8:45 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    Welcome to the 
              95th anniversary of when Helen Flanders Dunbar met Anton Theophilus Boisen –
     thus founding professional chaplaincy;
    and to the
                30th plenary of The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy;
    and to the
                20th introduction of the person – and the work of the person – receiving
                The Helen Flanders Dunbar Award for Significant Contributions to the Clinical Pastoral Field.

         “Anton Theophilus Boisen [1876-1965], who founded the clinical pastoral training movement                                 
    …[95] years ago, [in 1925,] was insistent from the very beginning that effective help for others cannot be achieved by assuming that ‘one size fits all.’

    Boisen spoke repeatedly of the need for a ‘systematic attempt to diagnose’ where the suffering person stands, so that ‘we may be able to bring to bear, according to the needs of the particular case, the forces of healing and power’ which lie within religion.

    One must assess the situation in order to apply the most appropriate assistance.” 1

                That summary statement appeared in the introduction to a manifesto that Perry N. Miller, Raymond J. Lawrence, and I painstakingly crafted 15 years ago. Raymond has tried to drive that message further home in two of his recent books on the clinical pastoral approach.

                “One must assess the situation in order to apply the most appropriate assistance.” 2

                  In a similar vein, Helen Flanders Dunbar [1902-1959] spoke of ascertaining the individualized “point of effective intervention”.

                An obvious question is, “How do we do this?”

                Just as clinical pastoral chaplaincy asks that the chaplain be grounded in a specific faith tradition while being prepared to minister to suffering, bewildered, or vulnerable persons of any faith tradition, an organization closely associated with our newest Dunbar Awardee asks that psychodynamic therapists be grounded in a specific psychoanalytic tradition while being prepared to work alongside therapists of other psychoanalytic traditions.

                This ecumenical psychodynamic collegiality welcomes clinical pastoral chaplains as well as psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to join its ranks.

                Members of these discrete professional groups have worked together mostly informally for decades, but now these professionals formally can share values and – in some cases – official certification and licensing.

                Let me here note just some of the common elements of assessment and intervention shared by those clinicians who are making efforts to think and to act psychodynamically.

                “Respect the patient’s socio-environmental and intrapsychic realities.”

                “Understand the interaction of affects and psychopathology.”

                “Navigate the emotional content of sessions, including shifts and endings.”                            

                 “Work with both a patient’s internal and external realities.”

                “Facilitate the exploration of unconscious experience.”

                “Be aware of, process, and effectively engage the transference.”

                “Be aware of, process, and effectively engage the counter-transference.”

                “Recognize and work with the patient’s defenses and resistance.”

                “Recognize various domains of patient experience in prioritizing interventions.”

                That is, systematically appreciate how this person uniquely is dealing with life. 3

                   A reasonable goal is to attempt to understand both the person’s conscious and unconscious agendas.

                Part of the beauty of the writings of Boisen, Dunbar, Carroll Wise, Wayne Oates, Pamela Cooper-White, Donald Capps, and Raymond Lawrence – among others in this field – is that they can portray the usefulness of these notions in very clear ways – generally without using the word “psychoanalysis”.

                  There are very good reasons why Dunbar’s book, Mind and Body …, was a Book of the Month Club selection – and best seller – for decades. There are very good reasons why CPSP is encouraging “The Boisen Books” project, whose first republication is of Boisen’s book, The Exploration of the Inner World … . 4

                Both Boisen and Dunbar recognized that a person’s “actual difficulties” might lie beneath their manifest words. 5

                  Boisen spoke of “co-operative inquiry” as to the nature of the problem. Dunbar spoke of entertaining multiple simultaneous views of an issue. Both focused not on “eisegesis” – of bringing preconceived interpretations and understandings from outside to a clinical situation, but on “exegesis” – of slowly, mutually discovering interpretations and understandings from inside of a clinical situation. 6

                The Graduate Institute of The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy offers a Doctor of Ministry degree that recognizes the centrality of psychodynamic assessment in clinical pastoral care, counseling, and psychotherapy.

                I strongly urge you to read over – carefully – the curriculum of the CPSP DMin program. 7                 

                In 2007, our Dunbar Awardee helped to organize a consortium of the various umbrella organizations that promote psychoanalytic training programs – toward coming up with a common set of notions about psychodynamic education, assessment, & treatment.

                In 2014, our awardee helped to organize a symposium, sponsored by almost 3 dozen organizations, that focused on one question, “How might a conversation fundamentally change the structure of the human mind?” 8

                In summary, it can be said that our awardee – as a member of the clergy – has been a “mover and shaker” in the US psychoanalytic world for at least twenty years.

                Let me repeat that: “our awardee – as a member of the clergy – has been a ‘mover and shaker’ in the US psychoanalytic world for at least twenty years”.

                That is, our awardee has widened the door for those clergy who wish to embark on psychodynamic education, assessment, and treatment.  9

                      Please join me in welcoming our 20th recipient of The Helen Flanders Dunbar Award for Significant Contributions to the Clinical Pastoral Field!

                            The Rev. Dr. Jennifer R. Harper.

    Robert Charles Powell, Jennifer Harper, and Raymond J. Lawrence(Left to Right) Robert Charles Powell, Jennifer Harper, Raymond J. Lawrence



    1. Anton T. Boisen: “What a Country Minister Should Know.” Christian Work, 1923;114(25):795; this citation is a correction to the bibliography in Anton T. Boisen: Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study of Mental Disorder and Religious  Experience (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1960), p. 211.

    2. Perry N. Miller, Raymond J. Lawrence, Robert C. Powell: “Discrete Varieties of Care in the Clinical Pastoral Tradition.” 9 July   2005;                            

    Raymond J. Lawrence: Nine Clinical Cases: The Soul of Pastoral Care and Counseling (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 2015).

    Raymond J. Lawrence: Nine More Clinical Cases: Case Studies in Pastoral Care, Counseling & Psychotherapy (North Charleston,  SC: Kindle Direct Publishing, 2020).

    3. American Board for Accreditation in Psychoanalysis: “Core Competencies for Psychoanalysis. © ABAP 2017; .

    4. Flanders Dunbar: Mind and Body: Psychosomatic Medicine (New York, Random House, 1947).

    Anton T. Boisen: The Exploration of the Inner World: A Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience (Chicago: Willett,   Clark & Co., 1936). .

    5. Robert Charles Powell: “Anton Theophilus Boisen as Clinician – In Favor of Psychotherapy.” 29 Nov 2017;  .

    6. Robert Charles Powell: “ ‘Cooperative Inquiry’ in Pastoral Care ….” 2001. on the internet at                                                .

    Robert Charles Powell: “Emotionally Free – UN-stuck in a Rut! Emotionally ‘Free to Think and Act’ – Consciously!” (2019;   publication forthcoming – hopefully in 2020).

    Robert Charles Powell: Boisen as Clinician. I. Assessment: Persistent and Provocative “Co-operative Inquiry” Empathic and  Enlightening “Exploration of the Inner World” (2012; publication forthcoming – hopefully in 2020).

    7. .

    8. symposium: Therapeutic Action: What Works in Psychodynamic Therapy. NYC, 2014; the question was from the following key   study: Jonathan Lear. Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony (New York: Other Press, 2003).

    9. This is the second time that CPSP has honored someone who legislatively has broadened opportunities for clinical pastoral  chaplains. Rev. Dr. A. Patrick L. Prest was so honored in 2006.



    Robert C. Powell, M.D., Ph.D., is the leading historian of the clinical pastoral movement. Many of his published writings are posted on the Pastoral Report. Readers can search the PR's archives to locate his articles. As a practicing psychiatrist, his writings reflect his daily investment in his clinical practice of providing psychotherapy and care to his patients. Contact Dr. Powell by visiting his website at or clicking here.

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