2017 CPSP President's address, presented March 21 -- by Bill Scar

27 Mar 2017 12:54 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

Dear Friends and Colleagues -

I am pleased to say that we, the CPSP, are truly progressing. And this is not "fake news"!  At a time when truth is at a premium in so many areas of life, we are actively addressing the factors that affect true quality of care for the many children of God, the living human documents, we encounter every day.

In clear terms, our progress is measurable in different areas other than our internal discipline and nurture.  Our collegial outreach, the Commission on Accreditation of Pastoral and Psychotherapy Training, has been actively reviewing many of the programs that deserve scrutiny and review.  Our CPSP leadership has been in ongoing communications with our historical cognate groups, the ACPE, the AAPC, and the AAMFT, and many opportunities for growth and relationship are possible.  It should be noted that all three of these organizations are experiencing major restructuring…and all three are in the process of adopting local and regional structures that are analogous to the Chapters and Chapter Life patterns that the CPSP established 27 years ago.  We knew then that we were embarking on the future that would become essential to the survival of our missions.  And, we have invited more communication with the emerging Spiritual Care Association, evidenced by our invitation this week to its President, the Rev. Eric Hall.

As a guild devoted to clinical pastoral care, collegial support and supervision are our most basic tasks as an organization, and we have stepped forward with more accountability for training programs and greater clarity for the paths to certification. A guild carries the torch for the beliefs they share and the skills they bring forward.  A guild also advocates for its worth in the community and points out the challenges faced by the people whom it serves.  At this time in our history, it is important to reflect again on our place in the field of specialized pastoral care, and our role in the culture of those we serve.

When I was installed as your President two years ago, I said that I had two major goals/priorities/responsibilities in my tenure. The first was to support the implementation of the new governance model adopted by you. The second was to address the lingering concerns described variously as a lack of transparency and openness about how we do what we do, and how decisions are made, in the CPSP.

Yes, these ultimately concerned the issue of trust, the trust of the members in our leadership and the trust of our leadership in the commitment of our members. The governance itself addressed some of this in the ways that more and more members were involved in Chapter development and the effectiveness of supervisors. Part of the governance was to be the Chapter of Chapters, and another part would be the Chapter of Diplomates. The third leg of the leadership stool would be the Executive Chapter, which would properly formalize what was sometimes called the leadership team. This new structure assured more total participation, and also provided greater accountability for these representatives and their efforts.  Our new governance is working better and better at fulfilling our duties to serve and represent our members.

I also saw that I could take direct action by establishing regular communication from my positon as President to all of our members, while also inviting direct responses from every one of you. I also promised to reply to each and every response from you. Thus was born "NOTES from the President", and I have sent one of these out to you every few weeks for this entire time. I have brought forth various types of issues that bear upon our ministries as well as our organization.  Since I, too, must be accountable, every single NOTES was vetted for its legal implications and for its accuracy.  I have indeed received many responses, and I have responded to every one, to the best of my ability.  What remarkable discussions we have had, from total agreement to great disagreement and everything in between. We succeeded in creating more communication.  This is gradually building more trust among us.

I want to lay to rest the word "transparency".  In my experiences as President, and in my observation of members with various levels of authority and responsibility, that word no longer applies negatively, if it ever truly did.  Over the years there have been some personality conflicts, which is to be presumed.  Many times the information is already out there and members just did not read our website. There are also people who don't ask and still expect to be given an answer. And then, and this is no surprise, there are those who are never satisfied, no matter what you say or how much time you spend with them.  Sound familiar?

I must also say that there are many questions or misunderstandings that have come to me involving information that is the responsibility of the individual chapter to provide as part of its nurture and support. Again, this is despite our documents that describe chapter behavior, the responsibilities of the Convener, and the role of the Mentor in the advancement of members.

Transparency and openness are open doors, open doors that are of no benefit if people do not walk through them.  And ultimately, every person involved with the CPSP, every Diplomate, every beginning trainee, was already a professional and mature adult before joining with us. Ultimately, professional applicants are themselves responsible to read, seek, research, and initiate inquiry into the credentials they seek. And of course, our standing committees are there to answer questions that others are unable to. Openness also means access, which we are here to provide.  The members of the Chapter of Chapters, the Chapter of Diplomates, and the Executive Chapter make this commitment to all of us.

NOTES from the President was an essential resource to me in staying close to the needs of our members. Another significant development is our utilization of cyber resources in the past two years to enhance communication, as well as conserve both time and money. As we learned to utilize this asset, we had two very successful fall cyber meetings of the Governing Council.  Across our organization, there have been many video conferences that served to enhance our trust and decision-making, and this technology has been used all over our membership for chapter meetings, supervision, and conferences.  I am sure this will continue, but we are already seeing the limits cyber tools; these are the lack of in-person, face-to-face meeting, especially in the areas of training and supervision.  Our clinical values must continue to be met, and this cannot happen unless we spend sufficient time in the same room together.  This applies equally to our organization as a whole, and this Plenary is yet another example of being able to share both time and space.  What we “know” about each other as colleagues is always primarily in relation and in respect to the individual we have seen, felt, heard, and smelled, as well as valued in person or prayed with.

Yes, we will continue to pursue greater accountability in all facets of our training and supervision, and our committees that oversee certification and accreditation will enhance their efforts on our behalf.  We forget that the origin of the CPSP in 1990 was not the search for license and lack of accountability…it was the search for ways of assuring better training and more effective accountability for all our ventures in the field of specialized pastoral care.  The founders of the CPSP were not seeking to lower the standards of our field and make it easier to become certified.  We were seeking the better ways to fulfill standards, and also hold individual members more accountable for their spiritual and intellectual formation.  We wrote a Covenant that would be our profession to ourselves and the world about who we strive to be and what we strive to do.  We chose to “travel light” in contrast to the expensive and obtrusive structures of the then prevailing corporations that certified and accredited persons in pastoral care. We used Boisen as an inspiration for renewing a psychoanalytic foundation for the care and counseling that are needed by the children of God when going through medical crises, in prison, in the military, and struggling in communities of poverty and chaos.  We prize being truly prepared as we encounter the living human documents wherever we serve.

Our goals were difficult to achieve…we chose the harder and better way.  These efforts would need structures of support and nurture.  The CPSP chose the Chapter model as fundamental to these values.  Professional pastoral caregivers would engage and support one another in local groups of 12 or fewer persons.  The Chapter is the first place where accountability really happens, and if it does not happen, our entire model is in jeopardy.  That is why we are of course paying great attention what is happening in Chapters today.

Our beloved CPSP is going in the right direction…  we have the ability to continue our prophetic and practical ministries, and make them better and more effective.  It is not our time to crow.  It is not our time to settle for less than what we believe in.  It is our time to rally and be the leader we have been for over 25 years.

Bill Scar

Bill Scar, CPSP President 2015-2017