Pastoral Report Articles 

  • 05 Nov 2018 3:57 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    If the current President has his way tomorrow I fear for the future of our nation, and also of the world. 

    Vote, please! 

    And do everything you can to get your friends to vote! Tomorrow could be the last time your vote will mean anything. The future of the nation is in your hands.

    Raymond J. Lawrence

    General Secretary

  • 01 Nov 2018 7:51 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Many people living with a serious illness who are receiving treatment for their condition, whether heart failure, lung disease, cancer or another illness, don’t have access to palliative care, which can make all the difference in how they feel physically, emotionally and spiritually. New palliative care guidelines set out to improve access to this care, which provides relief from the symptoms and stress of serious illness; improves quality of life for both the patient and the patient’s family; and is provided concurrent with disease-focused treatments. 

    To improve access to this care, new Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition urge clinicians and health care organizations to integrate it into the services they provide for all people living with serious illness, regardless of their diagnosis, prognosis, or age. The guidelines also call for palliative care to be available wherever people receive their care, including: outpatient clinics, cancer centers and long-term care facilities, office practices, homeless shelters, dialysis units and at home.

    The guidelines include tools, resources and practice examples to help with implementation. They expand on the eight domains of palliative care: structure and processes of care, physical aspects of care, psychological and psychiatric aspects of care, social aspects of care, spiritual, religious and existential aspects of care, cultural aspects of care, care of the patient nearing the end of life, and ethical and legal aspects of care.

    So what can you do right now to ensure your patients and their families are getting this vital care?

    • 1.     Download the guidelines and spread the word to your colleagues. 
    • 2.     Review the eight domains with your health care team and/or your organization’s leadership to assess how you can best address the gaps and needs of people living with a serious illness and their caregivers.
    • 3.     Identify specific action steps that your organization can implement to provide quality palliative care and focus on the easily attainable goals first. 

    The purpose of the guidelines is to improve access to quality palliative care by fostering consistent standards and continuity of care across settings. College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy is a supporting organization of the guidelines so please join us in this national effort so that all people living with serious illness and their families will receive the best care possible. 

    Learn more at and follow us @CoalitionHPC (#NCPGuidelines).


    Raymond J. Lawrence

    Brian H. Childs

  • 31 Oct 2018 9:39 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Well, I had purposed in my heart, just prior to this weekend, of foregoing any particular presidential address or even observations. But then the events that took place at the Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, yesterday morning caused me to pause.  Then, this morning, I received an email from a fellow CPSP Diplomate, and he challenged me that I or CPSP should call for a meeting of our cognate colleagues to speak to this and the other hate crimes that have recently occurred.…

    The Diplomate complimented General Secretary Raymonds response in the Pastoral Report to that horrific mass murder in Pittsburgh. That piece, which I thought was very good and especially prompt to this event, addressed issues of justice, leadership, and the lack of civility in our current social situation in this country.  The Diplomate challenged me personally to reach out to the various leaders of the other pastoral care cognate groups and that we should call a meeting to discuss -- as a unified group within our profession -- our current national situation.  And that this group of our national pastoral care leaders should produce a statement that we reject—openly,  publicly and  collectively reject—racism, sexism, supremacism, along with some of the very questionable leadership and statements and tweets that we’ve heard from some of our nation’s leaders of late.  The Diplomate emphatically argued that we should gather the leadership of CPSP and invite the other cognate groups to come to the table, talk, and reach a mutual statement of such.  And that triggered something within me this morning, namely that….

    A few months ago, in late June, you’ll recall that the immigration service made the decision they would stop at the border families seeking a better life, a safer life, a real possibility for a future life for themselves and for their families.  But things changed this summer.  The Administration made the decision not only to stop them, but to separate children—very young children—from their parents.  That drastic change was immoral in my mind.   I reached out to the various North American pastoral care cognate groups.  These are organizations of chaplains and pastoral counselors that I’ve known over the years and through my COMISS background. I reached out specifically to the leadership of each of these groups and said, “Hey, now’s a good time for us to come to the table as cognate groups and make a unified, declarative statement.  The border authorities are separating families.  There are reports of physical and psychological abuse of these separated little children and young people.  The major secular mental health certifying organizations have already made strong statements.  This is a time when people of pastoral concern and theological undergirding should stand up and say, ‘No, this ought not be done!’”   You don’t separate puppies and kittens from their parents; why on earth should we do this to human beings?

    So I reached out a few months ago as a Co-president of CPSP sending a mass email to these colleagues and made that plea.   I didn’t hear from several of them.   But some of them whom I did hear from said, “That’s just too political of a statement for us to make. We’re afraid we might be offending our constituents.”  And that was profoundly disappointing to me on several levels, but not the least of which is: If people of conscience, if people of theological conviction and pastoral concern will not stand-up and speak to such horrible events at our own borders, when can we make a stand?  When will we say something?  Is there any event when we, as a collective discipline, should say something? 

    So it made me proud this morning, when I was reflecting on our colleagues’ earlier response(s), that at least CPSP’s leadership has taken a stance -- and we’re not particularly concerned about who we may or may not offend when the stakes are so profound.  You know, regardless of what supremacists are out there, regardless of what racists, sexists, and hate-filled people are living among us whom we might offend (and who might somehow be a part of our constituency), we take a bold stand!  We take a courageous stand when the cause or causes are right—humanitarian causes, justice causes.  This makes me proud to be a part of CPSP.

    And those are my comments for today. 


    Editor’s Note: On October 30th ACPE published a statement representing “associations” representing most of the organizations referred to by David Plummer, CPSP Co-President, in his remarks to the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy’s Governing Council meeting on October 28, 2018. CPSP was not invited by ACPE to participate in a joint statement regardless of Plummer’s request.

    The ACPE statement in response to the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh:

    In regards to the events of Saturday, October 27,

    As associations committed to the spiritual care of people of all faiths and those who have none, we unequivocally denounce the anti-Semitism that fueled the hateful murders of eleven people last Saturday. We honor the sacred spaces and the gift of Shabbat and are horrified by the events at Tree of Life Synagogue. We represent over 10,000 spiritual care givers who are often the first responders when victims and their families come to hospitals, who stay in those hospitals with physicians and staff, who receive them in clinical settings for on-going post-traumatic care, caring for all of the members of our communities well past the moment of crisis. We ask that our political and faith leaders stand with us in rejecting this heinous act and work with us to be about "tikkun olam," the Hebrew expression for the work of healing the world.”

    The CPSP public statement crafted by Raymond Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary, in response to the hate crime and killing in Pittsburgh:

  • 28 Oct 2018 5:52 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Chaplain Dan Leger, a CPSP Clinical Chaplain at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Palliative and Supportive Institute, was among the victims of the shooting yesterday at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. He was hit in the abdomen, has undergone surgery and remains in critical but hopeful condition. 

    Two other CPSP Clinical Chaplains were present in the synagogue at the time of the assault, but were unhurt. They are Rabbi Doris Dyen and Rabbi Jonathan Perlman. The names of the dead are to be released this morning.

    Our sympathy and solidarity goes out for the families of the dead, the wounded, and all the members of that community. 

    These rabbis are colleagues of Charlie Starr, Director of Chaplains at UPMC Shadyside.

    We must also be deeply concerned with what this represents for life in this country. The escalating rage against those among us who are different—Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, Middle Easterners, and others—should be deeply troubling to us all. The increasing abuse of the stranger in our midst is a heinous crime inveighed against by all our religious traditions.

    In the face of this decompensation in American life, we must resist all calls for increasing ownership of guns, particularly those that make killing so efficient.

    We must also do what we can to fill the void in our political leadership, leadership which is either paralyzed and unable to act, or worse, fanning the flames of hostility toward the stranger among us.

    Raymond J. Lawrence
    General Secretary, CPSP

  • 16 Oct 2018 2:24 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The CPSP Plenary Planning Committee
    warmly invites you to join us for

    The 29th Plenary
    The College of Pastoral Supervision
    and Psychotherapy
    San Antonio, Texas
    March 24 - 27, 2019

    Workshops & Certification Review Panel
    March 23, 2019

    We will gather together at the Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk.  Looking forward to sharing the warmth of Texas hospitality, and the richness of its culture. 

    We are working on the schedule for this event, so check back here soon for more information. 

    • Sat., 23 March - Workshops & Certification Review Panel
    • Sun., 24 March - Opening of the 29th Plenary - day #1
    • Mon., 25 March - Plenary day #2 
    • Tues., 26 March - Plenary day #3, with the recognition of our newly certified members, banquet dinner, entertainment and event closing.
    • Wed. 27 March - CPSP Governing Council meeting 

    We will be meeting at the Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk, located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, and near major attractions including The Alamo, Sea World, San Antonio Museum of Art, Six Flags, and the AT&T Center. 

    The hotel's amenities include free WiFi, on-site restaurants and lounges, a fitness center, hot tub and pool, as well as meeting rooms, a business centers, and other amenities will make for a wonderful stay for you at this 4-star hotel.

    The hotel also has convenient access to the local bus line VIA from the San Antonio International AirportSan Antonio Taxi, and Uber are some of the ground transportation options available. 

    We have a special rate for this event of $139/per night - single rate or double rate. Check-in is at 4 PM and check-out is 12 PM. 

    These rates are available until Friday, March 1.

    For reservations, call: 1-800-HOLIDAY (465-4329)  
    and ask for the "CPSP Plenary 2019 Group"

    Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk
    217 North St Mary's Street
    San Antonio, TX 78205

    The CPSP 29th Plenary Planning Committee 
    George Hull, Chair
    Patty Berron, Member
    Ken Blank, Member
    Daniel Davila, Member
    Juan Loya, Member
    Susan McDougal, Member
    Medicus Rentz, Member

    El Comité de Planificación de la Plenaria CPSP
    le invita cordialmente a unirse
    a nosotros para 

    la 29a plenaria
    El Colegio de Supervisión 
    Pastoral y Psicoterapia
    San Antonio, Texas
    Del 24 al 27 de Marzo de 2019 los Talleres y

    El Panel de Revisión de Certificación
    - el 23 de Marzo de 2019

    Nos reuniremos en el Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk. Esperamos compartir la calidez de la hospitalidad de Texas y la riqueza de su cultura.

    Estamos trabajando en el calendario de este evento, así que vuelva aquí pronto para obtener más información.

    • Sábado 23 de Marzo - Panel de Revisión de Certificación y Talleres
    • Domingo 24 de Marzo - Apertura de la 29ª Plenaria - día # 1
    •  Lunes 25 de Marzo - Plenaria - día # 2
    • Martes 26 de Marzo – Plenaria - día # 3, con el reconocimiento de nuestros miembros recién certificados, cena de banquete, entretenimiento y cierre de eventos.
    • Miércoles 27 de Marzo - Reunión del Consejo de Gobierno del CPSP

    Nos reuniremos en el Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk, ubicado en el corazón del centro de San Antonio, y cerca de las principales atracciones, como El Álamo, Sea World, el Museo de Arte de San Antonio, Six Flags y el Centro AT&T.

    Los servicios del hotel incluyen WiFi gratis, restaurantes y salones en el lugar, gimnasio, jacuzzi y piscina, así como salas de reuniones, centros de negocios y otras comodidades que harán que su estadía sea maravillosa en este hotel de 4 estrellas.

    El hotel también cuenta con un cómodo acceso a la línea de autobús local VIA desde el Aeropuerto Internacional de San Antonio, San Antonio Taxi y Uber son algunas de las opciones de transporte terrestre disponibles.

    Tenemos una tarifa especial para este evento de $ 139 por noche: en tarifa única o tarifa doble. El registro es a las 4 PM y el registro de salida es a las 12 PM.

    Estas tarifas están disponibles hasta el
    viernes 1ro de Marzo.

    Para reservaciones, llame al: 1-800-HOLIDAY (465-4329)
    y pregunta por el "Grupo CPSP Plenaria 2019" 

    Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk
    217 North St. Mary’s Street
    San Antonio, TX 78205


  • 11 Oct 2018 3:09 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The first Pastoral Care Week was held in October 1985. Since then it has grown beyond national to international proportions. The celebration of Pastoral Care Week provides an opportunity for chaplains and pastoral care counselors, educators and providers to share their story and to celebrate various ministries. More specifically, the established objectives of the Pastoral Care Week Committee outline the scope of Pastoral Care Week observance:

    • To celebrate the education for and practice of pastoral care through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling. 
    • To interpret and promote pastoral care. 
    • To honor and celebrate all practitioners of pastoral care. 
    • To express appreciation to institutions and their staff who support pastoral care ministries. 
    • To publicize the work of pastoral care organizations affiliated with COMISS. 
    • To promote continuing education for clergy, laity, and institutional employees regarding the value of pastoral care. 

    Each year a new theme brings to the light a certain aspect of pastoral care as a focus. A new theme invites us to new and creative ways to tell the story of pastoral care. This year’s theme is: "Hospitality - cultivating time". The welcoming and belonging associated with hospitality require time that is treated as precious in developing relationships. Time allows the cared-for to express the real problem, the deeper implications and the meaning or despair that is felt at a soulful level.

  • 20 Sep 2018 11:45 AM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

    Certification review panels are scheduled at least three to four times a year, starting with the panel held before the annual Plenary. Customarily, the committee holds panels just before the NCTS-East (Spring and Fall) and NCTS-West events. Did you know that you can petition the committee to schedule a review panel in your area? 

    The steps to having a review panel in your area are simple and we're going to share with you how to get one set up. 

    Planning & Polling
    Ideally, six months before the desired review panel date, identify a minimum of eight members who are candidates for certification in your area or in the surrounding areas. It would be helpful to find out who in your area would be available to serve on a review panel, and wouldn't have a conflict of interests with the candidates. You'll find that chapter conveners, training supervisors, supervisors-in-training and your representative from the Chapter of Chapters would be your best resources for gathering names of qualified panelists. 

    Pick a Date
    Your next step would be to pick a date - keep in mind not to schedule an event near a holiday or other religious observances. Weekend dates are usually best for travel; stay clear from any dates which would conflict with other CPSP announced events.  

    Pick a Location
    Gather some information on a possible location that includes at least two meeting rooms that can be held for a minimum of six to eight hours. The best place for holding a review is one that is a business location with meeting spaces or institutions such as: schools, hospitals, hotels, and retreat centers. Libraries and churches are also good places to look for a cost-effective or free meeting space — we have more information for how to choose a good location and you can check with us for it. Any contracts for a location should first be sent to Krista for review. Only Krista is authorized to enter into contract with the leasing agent.

    Finalize Plans and Open Registration
    Once you've identified candidates, a possible date and location, please contact Krista, she'll work with you and the Certification Committee to review the plans and finalize logistics so that registration may be open on the website. 

    The Certification Committee has three review panels coming up before the 2019 Plenary -- Danville, CA; Morristown, NJ; and San Antonio, TX. We look forward to setting up more in 2019!

    The CPSP Certification Committee

    Asnel Valcin, Chair
    Elaine Barry, Member 
    Patty Berron, Member
    Parthenia Caesar, Member
    Andrew Harriot, Member
    Peter Meadow, Member
    Perry Miller, Member
    Claire Nord, Member

  • 22 Aug 2018 4:45 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    On August 16, the Boston Medical Center nurses on the Newton Pavilion celebrated their long, rich history as they prepare for the closing of the Pavilion in October, when they will move to the expanded Menino Pavilion next door.  The Newton Pavilion was the former University Hospital, and in 1996 merged with the Boston City Hospital to become Boston Medical Center, comprised of the Newton and Menino campuses.  The Newton Pavilion has been home for many years for hundreds of nurses.  Thus the August 16 event marking the closing of their workplace was a sad as well as a celebratory occasion.

    The speakers included Kate Walsh, President & CEO of Boston Medical Center, Nancy Gaden, Chief Nursing Officer and Karen Kirby, former Chief Nursing Officer of University Hospital.

    Having been hospital chaplain at University Hospital and then the Newton Pavilion from 1992 to 2011, I was invited to give the Blessing at the event, called “Celebrating Nursing at Boston Medical Center: Past, Present and Future.”  Following is the Blessing I presented.

    I’m honored to be giving today’s blessing for you, the nurses of Boston Medical Center’s Newton Pavilion.  Actually, I have been blessed to have been hospital chaplain at University Hospital and then at BMC’s Newton Pavilion for over 18 years, from 1992 to 2011 – and another five years of per diem work.  And it is your blessings that greatly assisted my chaplaincy work with patients over the years – as you have also blessed and enabled the chaplaincies of Drs. Sam Lowe and Jennie Gould, Sr. Mary Ann Ruzzo,  Fr. Roger Bourgea, Fr. Ray Bonoit, Sr. Claire Hayes, Rabbi Paul Levinson, Imam Salih Yucel, Rev. Les Potter, and others, and their devoted pastoral care volunteers.

    There are also the countless blessings you have provided for patients and their families from all walks of life.  Based on my work with you, I want to recall just a few of the blessings you nurses have bestowed on patients and their loved ones.  

    On one occasion, a daughter, who was diabetic, came to visit her mother in the old MICU on 6N.  Unable to eat anything before she arrived at the hospital and feeling somewhat ill, the daughter asked me if there were a place on the Unit where she could make toast for herself.  I said I’d go ask her mother’s nurse.  Without a moment’s hesitation, the nurse replied, “I’ll make it for her.  What does she want on it?”  That’s exceptional care without exception.

    After MICU on 6N moved to 8 North, I visited a 42-year-old man there who was withdrawing from alcohol and preoccupied with finding his laptop computer.  He would sit up, pull on the restraint that was keeping him from falling out of bed, point across the room as if his computer might be there.  In the midst of this preoccupation, he said he did not know where he was.  I responded that he was at Boston Medical Center.  His pre-occupation and confusion led me to tell him that I would share his concern with his nurse. 

     His nurse was just outside the room, and overheard our conversation.  When I told her of his pre-occupation with his computer, she replied, “So that‘s the latest thing he’s obsessed about.  He has a lot of things like that on his mind,” adding, “He’s withdrawing from alcohol and doesn’t know where he is at.”  She then said, “I’m waiting for the valium I gave him to hit him so I can relax.”  

    The nurse then said, with a smile, “Could you say a prayer for me?  I need it.”  I smiled in return and replied, “Sure.  May you have a good day.  And may all that is loving bless you very much.”  “Thank you.  I needed that,” she said smiling.  She then said, “When the patient’s mother and father come to see him, I will ask them about the computer.”  It was great to see that nurse again today.

    More blessings.  I visited a dying mother in SICU and her family of two daughters and two sons, all four adults.  I was with them for an extended period of time, together with their nurse.  The one daughter thanked the nurse and me for “hanging in there” with them.  You could tell how closely the family had bonded with the nurse by the way the daughter said her name, “Carline.”  You could also tell by the way Carline responded.

    As we sat around this dying mother’s bedside, her daughters and sons began to reminisce about her being a school teacher, and, at different ages, she was each one’s classroom teacher when they were children.  They mused about having their mother as their school teacher: saying how difficult it was to feign sickness or play hooky.  Who would write their excuse?  Who would read it?  Loving memories shared with a nurse who had become like family. 

    A final blessing to recall.  Do you remember Rose?  A woman in her eighties.  For Rose, the Newton Pavilion cafeteria was about family.  Her mother died at Boston Medical Center many years earlier, which evidently led her to keep coming back to the place where she last saw her mother alive.  Instead of the cemetery, she visited BMC’s familiar cafeteria, filled with the living.  She adopted BMC staff as her family – whether we wanted to be adopted or not.

    Every day at lunchtime, Rose would sit at the same table in this cafeteria.  She played the role of hostess: making the rounds and greeting various staff, straightening the chairs under the tables, refilling the napkin holders and plastic containers.

    Rose was very outgoing.  And underneath was a sensitive and caring woman, looking for and finding a family – at noon each day, here, in this cafeteria, before going home to be alone.

    Rose’s need and Boston Medical Center’s inclusive mission are perceptively captured in a birthday card a wise nurse gave to her, which Rose proudly showed to others and to my wife, Eva, and me.  The nurse wished Rose a happy birthday, wrote that she was a very special person, and ended her note with, “Thank you for taking care of us.”  What a blessing for Rose.

    The Newton Pavilion has been a second home, an extended family.  You nurses have made it so for each other and for many others of us staff and patients.  So there is sadness here as we face the closing of the Newton Pavilion.  Sadness born of years of sharing with each other and caring for patients. Sadness also in recalling, with gratitude and love, the nurses, no longer living, with whom you shared your work and your lives. 

     As the closing of the Newton Pavilion nears, its halls, once busy with routine, will become hallowed – filled with your precious memories.  And, across the street, there are other halls and rooms filled with patients who will need your nursing expertise and caring.  Halls that will also become hallowed by your presence, skills and empathy.

    Halls and rooms with all kinds of patients, which reveal that the hospital is a crossroads of humanity, a global neighborhood – populated by patients -- and staff -- of various beliefs, nationalities, races and sexual orientations. In the hospital, there is the diversity of divinity, and the divinity of diversity, and the commonality of humanity.  And you nurses are the ambassadors of exceptional caregiving without exception.  

    You have provided untold blessings.  May all that is loving bless all of you very much.


    Dr. William Alberts is an emeritus member of the Concord Chapter of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.  He is author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling.  The book is available on  He also is a regular contributor to Counterpunch.   His e-mail address is

  • 12 Jul 2018 12:05 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    No one who is seeking to become a board certified clinical chaplain (BCCC) should meet a certification panel and leave disappointed. This is my firm conviction and has been the commitment of the Nautilus Pacific Chapter since it was founded. We have always held that there is simply no good reason for a candidate to meet the panel and walk away unsuccessful. 

    In recent years I have had the sad experience of sitting on panels and having to tell some candidates that they had not met the Standards for certification and would not be certified. I don’t think it’s a message anyone likes to deliver and it’s one I believe no one should have to hear.

    Why people fail at certification
    The primary reason someone gets turned back is that they didn’t fulfill the clearly articulated expectations set out in the CPSP Standards. Too often, mistakenly, individuals and their chapters will decide for any number of reasons that “it’s time” without considering what makes it time – when a candidate is truly ready – to meet a certification panel. In other words, the vast majority of those who fail at certification do so because they simply weren’t ready and didn’t know what “ready” means.

    Certification is never based upon whether you have been in a chapter “long enough” or are liked by your chapter members or you are an active participant in chapter activities. These are important aspects of our professional life together but they are not what demonstrate competence as a clinical chaplain or pastoral counselor.  Similarly, having worked in a position with the title chaplain for an extended period isn’t sufficient. The word “chaplain” can be applied to anyone who does ministry outside the congregational setting. In fact, most people who bear the title – college chaplains, police and fire chaplains, many prison chaplains, and others – are not and could not become board certified. Even in healthcare many are not board certified. And even having completed four units of CPE is not in itself sufficient to merit board certification.  

    What does it take to be certified?
    The CPSP Standards spell out the necessary competencies (Section 730) for certification as well as what is expected – the 13 objectives – to be achieved as a result of CPE training (Section 230). 

    If someone fails, this typically means that they likely haven’t had an informed, capable mentor to work with them though the certification process.  It certainly means their chapter hasn’t considered the set expectations that apply to all of us. In a really rigorous CPE program there will be those who are nearly ready by the end of four units, but this is the exception, not the rule. The healthy chapter is a place of peer support as well as peer review and input. While a lot can be accomplished in 1600 or more hours of clinical training, most often the finishing work of preparation – as in any guild – will be the responsibility of that of the chapter’s more competent, experienced, certified chaplains. 

    The Litmus Test
    When a candidate meets the certification panel, those on it will have reviewed at least three major documents: the candidate’s autobiography, their theory paper and two case studies. Reading closely these documents alone and without ever having met the chaplain, an astute reviewer is usually able to make a good assessment of the competence and readiness of the candidate. If each of the documents seems congruent with the others it is most likely the candidate will be certified. One’s theory of pastoral care should make sense given key aspects of the person’s life story, and one’s theory and life story should inform and be visible, if sometimes obscurely, in the cases.  It is this integration, along with evidence of the basic competencies set out in the Standards, that assures certification. 

    How to succeed (or when to plan the party)
    Certification should never be a crapshoot. I don’t think it should even be a gamble. With the right preparation and responsible chapter involvement in the process meeting the certification panel should be a pleasurable and affirming experience. 

    What is key is that chapters take responsibility for mentoring certification seekers so they’re prepared, paying close attention to meeting the Standards, and helping the seeking member thoughtfully to prepare and assemble the required documents. 


    David Roth is the director of spiritual care and clinical supervisor for chaplaincy training at Kaiser Permanente in the Napa/Solano Area and a member of CPSP’s Nautilus Pacific Chapter. Visit his website at or email him at

    Download: "A Concept and Function of a Mentor in the CPSP" by The Rev. Dr. William Scar, CPSP Diplomate, Pastoral Report, 31 July 2008.

  • 03 Jul 2018 8:14 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    To become proficient in the practice of pastoral care, pastoral counseling and pastoral supervision one must always move back and forth between reflection on theory and reflection on practice.  De facto, the way one practices regularly implies a theory that is being enacted, whether the practitioner is conscious or unconscious of this fact.  Conversely, the theory one espouses implies particular kinds of practice, whether or not these practices are actually being followed.  A person who lacks knowledge of any theory at all will engage in practice that is willy-nilly and incompetent.

    Historically, clinical pastoral training has focused on the practice of our arts through study of actual clinical cases, both in group seminars and individual supervisory sessions.  Anton Boisen instituted Clinical Pastoral Training as reflection on practice in reaction against the exclusively didactic pedagogy of theological seminaries that failed to help seminarians develop the relational competence necessary for effective ministry.  For Boisen, the cognitive dimensions of theological education had to interface with human experience.  Theory must inform and be integrated with practice. 

    He derived this tenet from his study of William James, and his work at Union Theological Seminary with George Albert Coe, both of whom championed “the empirical study of religious experience.”1 In 1921 Boisen’s friend, Fred Eastman sent him a copy of Freud’s Introductory Lectures, a book that greatly excited him.  Boisen’s next mentor was Richard Cabot, M.D. who “shared…the vision of including a clinical year as a part of theological study.”2 He further refined his position while working during 1923-24 in the Social Service Department of Boston Psychopathic Hospital.  There he became acquainted with the methodology of the social workers who made “a careful study of all aspects of a person’s situation, including his or her religious experiences.”3   

    Working in each of these situations where medical and social work education was combined with clinical residencies, Boisen developed and refined his vision of interfacing academic theological and psychological concepts with the practice of ministry in clinical settings.  In this way a curriculum was formed that moved between theory and practice, and the supervised reflection upon these experiences.  Content was balanced with process.

    Today, CPSP remains committed to this balance of content with process, theory with practice.  To this end, last year I developed a bibliography for pastoral care, counseling and supervision.  Now, at the request of CPSP leadership, I am offering an annotated bibliography of core psychodynamic readings – a kind of storehouse of theory to be paired with our practice.  It is hoped that these readings will enhance an informed focus on our practice. 

    DOWNLOAD: Annotated Bibliography for Pastoral Care, Pastoral Counseling and Diplomates in Training - by David Franzen


    1Vision from a Little Known Country: A Boisen Reader, Glenn H. Asquith, Jr., Ed.,

                Journal of Pastoral Care Publications, Inc., 1992, pp. 4-5.

    2Ibid., p. 7.

    3Ibid., p. 7


    David Franzen