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FAQ’s about Clinical Pastoral Education and QICPE

How is the CPE course structured?

Participants can enrol in a 10 week full-time unit or an 18 to 42 week part-time unit.

A full time unit requires attendance for 5 days per week for 10 weeks (40 hours/week x 10 weeks = 400 hours of training).  In some courses, each morning is spent in group time, and the practical component occurs in the afternoon.  Alternately, each week two full days can be spent in group time and three days engaged in doing pratical work.

A part-time unit (18 or more weeks) requires participants to perform about 5-10 hours per week of practical work (usually over 1-2 days) at an approved site.  A third day is spent in a group environment.

Whichever course is attended, the participant is required to complete 200 hours of practicum placement over the duration of the course.

 What does a typical, part-time, CPE group day look like?

Each course will vary slightly, depending on location and number of students, but it may look like the following.

  • 8 am   Individual Supervision
  • 9 am  Morning devotion led by a student
  • 9.15 am  “Pastoral Encounter Review” presentation
  • 10.15 am  Morning Tea
  • 10.45 am  PER presentation
  • 11.45 am  Skills training
  • 12.45 pm  Lunch
  • 1.30 pm  Didactic
  • 2.30 pm  Process and Function Group
  • 3.30 pm  Afternoon Tea
  • 3.45 pm  Individual Supervision

What is a Pastoral Encounter Review (Verbatim) Presentation?

Participants present to the training group a written account and evaluation of a recent pastoral visit.  The supervisor/s and other participants assist the presenter to objectively analyse their professional practise and consider other possibilities for future encounters.  Through this central activity of the CPE course, training of basic pastoral skills occurs.

What is involved in Skills Training?

One participant pastorally cares for another participant for 10-15 minutes whilst being recorded.  On replay, the carer is able to see themselves “in action” and learn from the collective group.

What is a Didactic?

This is a theoretical/discussion seminar.  Topics will focus on issues that are relevant to, and chosen by, the participant group.

What happens in Process and Function Group?

Time is given without a set agenda for participants to address issues of group dynamics, leadership and authority, to allow pastoral care for members of the group and explore personal issues related to ministry,

What is Individual Supervision?

Each participant meets with their individual supervisor for 10 x one hour supervisory sessions over the duration of the CPE course.  The trainee is usually responsible to setting the agenda for this meeting, often through the presentation of a verbatim.

What assessment is typically involved? 

At the start of the course, participants set learning goals for themselves.  Participants are required to present mid-term and end-of-term evaluations which focus strongly on the participant reflecting on how they are working towards achieving these goals.  Other written work includes keeping a weekly personal log, writing three reading reactions to pastoral books, movies and journals, and writing a Spiritual Journey paper.

What is an approved site for practical experience?

A site agreed to at the initial application interview by the CPE course co-ordinator.  This may include sites such as hospitals, prisons, schools, parishes, defence force bases etc.

What does a practical day involve?

This involves the participant engaging in face to face visits with clients/patient/inmates/students/soldiers etc.

Does your practical placement site require insurance for you?

QICPE is insured to include trainees.  For more details contact treasurer@qicpe.com

What do recent CPE participants say about CPE?

Please go to About QICPE: Testimonials to read these responses

I’ve heard CPE is hard.  Is this true?

The CPE programme requires an intentional commitment from participants, in both time and emotional investment and is not suitable for everyone.  The pastoral care of others and CPE group interactions can be challenging, and reflection on those encounters may be confronting. The discipline of writing up journals, case studies and pastoral encounter reviews enhances personal integration which makes the CPE program a demanding but enriching process.  Students who are new to hospital or healthcare settings or multi-faith and multi-cultural settings may find challenges confronting.  CPE is also often reported as one of the most rewarding adult education courses taken by participants.  Participants enrolling in a 20-week part-time CPE should expect to commit at least 20 hours per week to CPE.  A 35-week course requires an 11 hour/week commitment.  A 40 hours per week commitment is required for full-time courses.  These times include CPE group participation, implementing learnings in a practicum placement and time required to complete the reading and written components of the course.  There is the same amount of writing in one CPE as in two post graduate subjects at university.