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Spiritual Care and Clinical Pastoral Education

Spiritual Care and Clinical Pastoral Education

Spiritual Care

Our team offers spiritual and emotional support to patients, families, and staff of all faiths, cultures, and walks of life in times of crisis, loss, injury, or illness. To request assistance, dial 323-361-2482 (or inside the hospital, dial ext.12482).

As members of the interdisciplinary health care team our interfaith chaplains:

  • Listen to concerns with compassion.
  • Provide spiritual counseling.
  • Respond to crisis and emergency situations.
  • Help clarify questions of meaning and ethical dilemmas.
  • Facilitate religious rituals.
  • Provide sacred literature and sacred items from diverse traditions.
  • Assist with diverse religious observances.
  • Assist patients and families to contact local religious communities as desired.
  • Facilitate weekly spiritual and religious services.

The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Interfaith Center

The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Interfaith Center is open for quiet reflection and respite 24 hours a day. It is located on the 1st floor behind Hospital Admitting and offers alcoves for meditation and prayer with artwork from the main spiritual traditions represented at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The large sanctuary generates calm through nature imagery transcending any particular tradition. Feel free to also visit the adjacent Sharon D. Lund Reflection Garden.

Spiritual services are open to all patients, families, and staff members at our hospital:

Roman Catholic Mass

Sundays, 1 p.m.
Wednesdays, 12 p.m.

Drop-in Meditation

Tuesdays, 12 p.m.
Thursdays, 12 p.m.

In addition, families can attend services in religious communities in close vicinity of the hospital.

IFC View from Entrance 1.jpg


Spiritual Care could not be offered at our hospital without the generous donations from many community supporters. Among them is the Spiritual Care Guild, an Affiliate group that raises funds to support the compassionate services provided by this program.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

As a pediatric leader, Children's Hospital Los Angeles offers Chaplain Residents and Interns the opportunity to work with a diverse population of children, adolescents, and their families. Trainees develop both spiritual care expertise and professional identity as interfaith chaplains. They  benefit from the learning atmosphere of a teaching institution with training programs for physicians, nurses, and other professionals.

The training program brings theological students and clergy from diverse spiritual traditions into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. 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 Residents learn as members of a peer group, which aims for diversity in gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, ability, age and spiritual tradition. Trainees provide spiritual care on 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.

In Level I CPE, students learn basic skills for spiritual care and in Level II CPE, students acquire advanced skills in preparation for professional spiritual care/chaplaincy. In Educator CPE, students learn the theory and practice of education and gain experiences in the education of CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of an ACPE Certified Educator. The outcomes for each level must be completed before moving to the next level. Educator CPE positions are posted on the Children’s Hospital website when they become available.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles is accredited by the ACPE, The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education to offer Level I, Level II and Certified Educator CPE. ACPE is nationally recognized as an accrediting agency in the field of clinical Pastoral education by the US Department of Education.

ACPE | 1 Concourse Pkwy, Suite 800 | Atlanta, GA 30328 Ph: 404-320-1472 acpe@acpe.edu

Spiritual Care Internship

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

  • Full-time Summer Internship (40 hours per week/11 weeks)
  • Fall and Spring Internships (20 hours per week/20 weeks)

Spiritual Care Residency

The year-long Residency Program teaches Level I and Level II CPE and is designed to help participants achieve the necessary educational 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.

One CPE course consists of at least 400 hours of supervised clinical practice. The Residency Program consists of four consecutive CPE courses and lasts for one year. Residents are temporary employees and receive a competitive salary and full benefits during their enrollment in the program. For updated information about the salary, please contact the department.

Meet Our Faculty

Rev. Dagmar Grefe, PhD, ACPE          
Clinical Assistant Professor Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Rev. Dr. Dagmar Grefe is the manager of the department and Clinical Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a Certified ACPE Educator. She has experience in congregational ministry and chaplaincy in general hospitals, hospice, and mental health. Her practice and research interests are in intercultural and interfaith spiritual care. Among her publications are the book Encounters for Change. Interreligious Cooperation in the Care of Individuals and Communities (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011) and with Pamela McCarroll “Section IV: Meaning Making Competencies,” in Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy for the 21st Century (Wendy Cadge and Shelly Rambo, eds. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2022).

Admissions Criteria


  • Two years of graduate studies (Religious Studies/Theology), experience that demonstrates a clear interest in personal and professional growth in spiritual care
  • Completed ACPE application form, including required essay and $30 application fee (payable to Children's Hospital Los Angeles/Spiritual Care Services)
  • Student and supervisors’ final evaluations from any prior CPE
  • Admissions interview


  • Completion of Master’s degree in Theology/Divinity/Religious StudiesCompletion of one unit (400 hours) of ACPE Clinical Pastoral EducationCompleted ACPE application form, including required essay and $30 application fee (payable to Children's Hospital Los Angeles/Spiritual Care Services)
  • Student and supervisors’ final evaluations from any prior CPE
  • Admissions interview

Application, Schedule, and Tuition

CPE Application

CPE Program Schedule

Along with your application, please submit Use of Clinical Materials Consent Form.

Tuition is $600 per course. If accepted to the Residency, a non-refundable deposit of $200 for the first course is required to reserve a space in the program. Your deposit will be applied to the cost of tuition.

Additional Resources

Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)   
Association of Professional Chaplains   
National Associations of Catholic Chaplains   
National Association of Jewish Chaplains
Association of Muslim Chaplains