Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education/Spiritual Care Internship and Residency

As a pediatric leader, Children's Hospital Los Angeles offers Clinical Pastoral Education Interns and Chaplaincy Residents the opportunity to work with a varied population of children, adolescents and their families. Trainees benefit from the learning atmosphere of a teaching institution with training programs for physicians, nurses and other professionals. They develop both professional pastoral identity and pastoral expertise.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is interfaith professional education for spiritual care and counseling, as well as ministry in a variety of other settings. The training program brings theological students and clergy from all faith traditions into supervised spiritual care with patients and families. Children's Hospital Los Angeles is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. to offer Level I, Level II and Supervisory Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). The center offers two main formats of CPE: the spiritual care internship and the spiritual care residency.

The program provides students with an opportunity to learn through a balance of:

  • Providing spiritual care to persons in crisis
  • Reflection in seminars, group and individual supervision
  • Case conferences

The CPE learning model integrates the theory and practice of spiritual care and counseling by balancing direct clinical practice with patients and families in crisis with reflection in seminar, case conference, group and individual supervision. Spiritual Care Interns and Residents learn as members of a peer group, which aims for diversity in gender, race, culture and religious tradition. They provide spiritual care on one or two inpatient units and/or in outpatient clinics, participate in on-call rotations 24 hours, seven days a week and serve as integral members of the interdisciplinary health care team.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE) to offer Level I, Level II and Supervisory CPE.

The ACPE, Inc.
One West Court Square
Suite 325
Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: 404-320-1472
Fax: 404-320-0849
Email: acpe@acpe.edu

What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

Clinical Pastoral Education, or CPE, is interfaith professional education for ministry.  Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) brings theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others) into supervised encounters with persons in crisis.

Out of an intense involvement with persons in need, and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs of those to whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, they gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, they develop skills in interpersonal and interprofessional relationships.

  • A Typical Day in Clinical Pastoral Education
  • CPE as a Part of Theological Education & Career Preparation

You will discover that a CPE schedule asks for active investment but also provides time for sharing, reflection and preparation.

  • CPE units may be completed with a full-time or part-time schedule commitment. 
  • Either schedule will include an equivalent number of ministry and education hours. 
  • Some extended CPE units meet one day per week for structured educational sessions, and ministry is performed at other times.
  • A more common day, however, is one in which time is provided for ministry and for several education events.
  • Since the heart of CPE is ministering and learning from the experience, a day’s schedule frequently includes a clinical seminar in which a student presents a pastoral encounter to other students and the supervisor for discussion and feedback.

Other typical sessions are didactic seminars in which discussion follows a lecture, book or article; exploration of theological concerns; peer group meetings or interpersonal group sessions for mutual sharing, support and exploration of relationship concerns; and worship or sharing occasions with opportunity for spiritual nurture. Periodic field trips, workshops and clinical observations may be included. Evaluation experiences with other students and your supervisor are also part of a CPE program and may be scheduled at the end of a unit, midway to assess learning objectives, and, at other times, such as with the other care providers in your ministry area.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) serves as a part of one's preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching, and counseling.

One unit of CPE has numerous professional applications.  A student's learning contract may be focused toward integration of theological, psychological and pastoral insights into pastoral functioning for parish work.  Or the contract may be designed with a career goal of chaplaincy or pastoral counseling.

Many theological schools require one unit of CPE as a part of a theological degree program. Other schools accept a year of CPE as the required intern year of ministry for a theological degree program. A number of theological schools with membership in the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education have graduate degree programs which combine academic study and CPE Supervisory CPE.


CPE Spiritual Care Internship

  • Courses Offered
  • Tuition
  • Application and Schedule
  • Admissions Criteria: Spiritual Care Internship Level I
  • Admissions Criteria: Spiritual Care Internship Level II
  • Useful Links

One course consists of at least 400 hours of supervised clinical practice. Throughout the year, the following Level I and Level II coursework is offered:

  • Full-time Summer Clinical Pastoral Education (40 hours per week/11 weeks) 
  • Extended Clinical Pastoral Education (22 hours per week/19 weeks) during Fall/Winter and/or Winter/Spring

Tuition is $550 per course. If accepted, a non-refundable deposit of $150 is required to reserve space. Your deposit will be applied to the cost of tuition. The hospital does not provide training stipends.

  • Two years of graduate theological education, pastoral experience and involvement that demonstrates a clear interest in personal and professional growth and spiritual care and ministry. Laypersons may have equivalent qualifications.
  • Completed CPE application form, including required essay and $30 application fee (payable to Children's Hospital Los Angeles/Spiritual Care Services). In addition, an admissions interview will be required, preferably on-site.
  • Two years of graduate theological education, pastoral experience and involvement that demonstrates a clear interest in personal and professional growth and spiritual care and ministry. Successful completion of Level I CPE. 
  • Completed ACPE application form, including required essay and $30 application fee (payable to Children's Hospital Los Angeles/Spiritual Care Services). In addition, an admissions interview will be required, preferably on-site.


CPE Spiritual Care Residency

  • Courses Offered
  • Chaplaincy Residency Learning Model
  • Application and Schedule
  • Admissions Criteria

One CPE course consists of at least 400 hours of supervised clinical practice. The Residency Program consists of three consecutive CPE courses. Residents are temporary employees and receive benefits during their enrollment in the program.

Besides a Masters degree and a basic course in Clinical Pastoral Education, the Residency Program is designed to help participants achieve the necessary requirements to gain certification as a professional chaplain. Chaplain residents gain experience and expertise in the following areas:

  • Spiritual Care Reflection
    Reflect on yourself as a person and spiritual caregiver in relation to people in crisis, peers, supervisors and the hospital setting where residents serve.
  • Spiritual Formation
    Develop your professional and personal identity in learning and spiritual care and counseling.
  • Spiritual Care Competence
    Deepen your functioning as a spiritual caregiver, including skill development and knowledge in faith traditions and the behavioral sciences.
  • Spiritual Care Specialization
    Become competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of clinical health care service.
  • Completion of Masters Degree in Theology/Religious Studies
  • Completion of one unit (400 hrs) of ACPE Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Completed ACPE application form, including required essay and $30 application fee (payable to Children's Hospital Los Angeles/Spiritual Care Services)
  • Admissions Interview