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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: September 03, 2010 02:22AM

Thank you for sharing, now I understand your CPE training better corboy.

For me, one of the main factors in my cult involvement is that with my particular narcissistic cult-leader-sociopath is that for him their was no oversight and/or outside accountability. But in cases like yours, abusive pr!cks should be weeded out of the system on a regular basis IMO. I mean, if an accredited denominational seminary training system can't figure out how to weed out the abuse then they are CLEARLY FAILING IN THEIR RESPONSIBILITY!

A hard thing to face for me now is looking back on the things that I missed too. Rest assured corboy, you are not even close to the only person who has to face being part of an abusive system. For whatever it's worth to you, I don't think your part is too bad and I think it speaks well of you that you can recognize your quietness for what it was. And it seems to me to be a good thing that you consider opportunities to help others you know may have faced the same things you've faced.

Sometimes as these issues pertain to myself I just have to decide to never let anything like that slide again, and for me that may perhaps be the most valuable lesson of all.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 04, 2010 01:10AM

Here, brothers and sisters is what I learned.

Never do a group training without also being part of an outside support group. I was new in town, living by myself, without my friends and roomates with whom I had lived in the past.

Knowing what I know now, I would have joined an Adult Children of Alcoholics group or an Alanon group or Codependents Anon group, all of which I qualify for, so I could have had people outside the CPE unit with whom I could have compared notes. If others could have said, 'You are taking this second CPE unit and have no requirement to do so? You did that earlier unit and got your degree and graduated. You have no job requirement or school requirement to stay in this unit?

And you are PAYING to attend this, donating hours of free labor to that fucking pastoral care department, you tried to talk to the supervisor and he blew you off?'

Shit, you need to walk outa there and fucking quit. Dont let them tell you that you are weak, dont let them tell you that you're the quitter.

'Just shove your pager up their asses and tell them that if they want to keep students from walking out on them, treat them better than they're treating you. And then kiddo, walk out and dont look back. Your classmates are acting like pricks. That staff chaplain supervisor trainee is an emotional sadist who is skull fucking you, and your supervisor sounds like a dweeb.'

With that kind of feedback, I might just might have been able to get it together and walk out of there.

Years later I learned from two different people that the CPE supervisor in training was an abuser and they'd been on the recieving end.

A classmate in that same unit who ran a number on several of us turned out to have a history of trouble that turned up on a computer search I ran.

And I later met a woman who told me the CPE supervisor Id had in that unit pulled similar stuff with her, making it seem she was the one with problems when in fact that supervisor tended to dissociate and zone out whenever the tensions in the group went above a certain level and left her feeling she was the one who was the problem when he was the one who had countertransferance issues and, because he was a minster and not a shrink, had never been through an adequate training analysis.

Only good thing was I was so loused up that I went into therapy myself and by sheer dumb luck got a shrink who was trained, licensed and (Jackpot!) trained to work with people who had PTSD and dissociative disorders.

So ask your minister, rabbi or priest if they're OK after CPE. They may not confide in you, but just by asking, you may trigger or support a healing process and thereby demostrate how G-d works through people and that chaos should not have the final word.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 04, 2010 01:19AM

Here is a risk factor that comes up in a lot of non profits.

Too often the executive director of a non profit (and in some cases this may include
a CPE program), hand picks all or a voting majority of the board of directors.

This turns the board of directors into a rubber stamp and old/boys/old gurls network
'that colludes with or turns a blind eye to what the executive director does and fails in the moments of need, to challenge the executive director.

Bylaws for a non profit should state, clearly that the board of directors should consist
of persons selected independently of the executive director and if a member of the board is on inactive status or retired from the role and learns information pertinent to the program, he or she should be allowed to attend and his or her information read into and preserved, in full, in the minutes of the meeting.

And if student chaplains in a chaplaincy training program, whether it is CPE or another program, have the privilige and responsiblity of writing entries into patient or inmate charts after visits, that CPE program or their seminary must in writing specify they will provide the services of an attorney during depositions and if necessary in court, if that CPE students notes later result in his or her being supoenaed to give testimony.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: September 07, 2010 11:28PM

I've been supportive of folks sharing as they process their experiences on the web, even though I recognize that in many respects it is not the best option. The best option IMO involves supportive family, quality friends, and qualified counsel IMO.

I'm very glad you found good help through a good shrink Corboy!!!

As far as my own considerations go as to the things you've shared my stopping point seems to be regulated when I run into "the unknown" as it pertains to you life. Their are just sooo many factors in the situation and also as pertaining to you that end up as a question mark for me for lack of acquaintance.

But I find that none of these unknowns prevent me from offering you my unwavering support and best wishes.

And FYI, you have piqued my interest in CPE related issues and I plan on asking a few folks I am acquainted with who probably have been through the system about it.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 17, 2010 10:52PM

Problems and Abuse in Clinical Pastoral Education CPE

I have put this title here to assist others doing computer searches to find this discussion thread.

I heartily invite those bruised by CPE, whatever their denomination, to form communities for dialogue.

Many of us are called to a healing vocation because of difficulty in our lives. The training process should not add wounds to those a person already has.

If one wants 'toughening up' go train for something like the Ironman triathlon, or join a boot camp program at your gym. If you want more toughening up, go discuss this with someone at the armed forces induction center.

But if you are training to become a minister, a healer, the toughening up process may add so much scar tissue and reactivity to your inner life that the gift through which you were called into the vocation may be ruined--which is a sin against the Holy Spirit.

We have too much toughness in the culture and ministers and priests are here to provide an emancipatory alternative to 'toughness'.

Sure, one wants to be strong. But toughness all too often is an excuse by abusers and bullyies to continue their damage to others.

Alice Miller called this character building rhetoric, this language of using toughness to rationalize cruelty to students and children--she called this Poisonous Pedagogy--a
rhetoric by which one generation justifies passing on its misery to the next generation--behavior that is the opposite of healing.

Whether you are an man and an Orthodox Roman Catholic, a woman who identifies as feminist and has transitioned from Catholicism to a different tradition, whether you are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, from one of the Protestant traditions, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim or custodian of an inherited lineage of Red Nation
ritual--reforming Clinical Pastoral Education, if problems still continue, may provide
common ground.

All one needs for this is a voice to reclaim, a human heart, a pair of ears for listening, and a bellybutton.

Identifying a shared human predicament and wanting to make sure the next generation of students is spared this, thats enough for community building.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: jeffsjo ()
Date: September 22, 2010 11:55PM

In my seeking what seems like a potentially useful community I have had to come to terms with being willing to allow folks to make up their own minds as to what the do or do not want to do in terms of sharing.

If the "community" you envisage comes to pass corboy, I do hope it goes truly well for you and the others!

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Re: Clinical Pastoral Education
Posted by: violet55 ()
Date: August 05, 2011 06:01AM

Hi Corboy,

From my recent experience, I can tell you that the same dynamics still exist within CPE groups. I suspect that's because it takes many years for supervisors to climb the CPE ladder, so they're still working out of their basic training--and likely still "acting out" as a result of their own harmful CPE experience. The collusion you mention arises, partly, because in CPE we're taught not to "rescue"--one of many features that allow people to be bullied with no recourse.

Like you, I also noticed that I did not appropriately support my student colleagues, in my case for fear of losing the favour of the supervisor--who ultimately turned on me when I questioned her judgment on an unrelated issue. When I pointed out that I wasn't being treated with the dignity and respect we provide our patients, she angrily replied, "You are not my patient, I am your supervisor".

One of the key problems with CPE, in my view, is the supervisor's combined role of "therapist/evaluator". When you seek a (licensed!) psychotherapist, he or she isn't writing a report about you that will impact your ordination. Because of this unusual power dynamic, students can be kept "vulnerable" and powerless (through, among other things, unexpected and unjustified criticism and an intense focus on personal issues) while at the same time being expected to perform well under the high pressure of a hospital system, attempting to minister to people in crisis.

When CPE students "survive" the experience, they seldom tell others (out of shame, perhaps, or exhaustion...and also for fear of affecting their chances toward ministry credentialling) and the next round of students comes along. Meanwhile, so much "deep learning" occurs, most folks likely conclude that the end justifies the means. I don't believe it does.

Thanks for being there on the search horizon.


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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 05, 2011 10:50PM

Dear Violet, I only now revisited this thread and found your article.

It is too damned bad that these abuses are still continuing in CPE but I am not surprised. Too many features of the CPE structure support and hide trouble and these structural features exist (taking CPE under duress, timeline pressure, conflating contradictory roles of therapist/supervisor/co-worker).

These structural problems remain while individuals come and go.

And because everyone finishes CPE feeling worn out, even if the program was a good one, there is little energy left for social justice action directed toward CPE reform. One has ones next step in the ordination track looming ahead.

There is also the classic maverick factor. Many who dont fit into conventional parish or congregational ministry do flourish as chaplains. But some certified assholes who would not do well in parish work also gravitate toward chaplaincy. In the old days, it was rumored that one classic method to deal with alcoholic priests was to assign them to hospital chaplaincy.

Mavericks when wise and good hearted and street smart enough to keep thier groups well governed are splendid chaplains and make excellent CPE teachers.

Mavericks who cannot use power competantly or keep their groups steady are the ones who become troubled chaplains and abusive supervisors.

And that is the problem with seminary work. (And certain kinds of social justice work, such as homeless services)

Some persons have faced their wounds and shadows and for that reason go into the ministry. (whether ordained or unordained)

Others are fleeing from thier shadows or trying to repair a fragile sense of self and looking to the role of hero or savior or leader to do this for them.

You meet the very finest people and also some scary-dangerous ones when in this area.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 05, 2011 11:02PM

Final note; people may not want to remember CPE because in addition to whatever they faced in their groups, they also have painful memories of the people they met on the wards.

I think back to some of the persons who were patients at the hospital where I took CPE and though it is 20 years later I still want to cry when I think of some of them. And there are other situations where I think back, remember, and feel a blistering mixture of impotence and rage.

One of the wisest things someone said was, 'Patients whom you got to know well when in the hospital may pretend not to recognize you when they heal, leave and then meet you on the street, or even may just cut you dead.

'They are not rejecting you, or being ungrateful. What is likely going on is that the person sees you, their former chaplain and this triggers a cascade of memories of when they were feeling vulnerable, trapped, exposed in their nakedness.

'They cant stand to face the pain of of their past when out of the hospital, so if you come along, they may want to avoid you, their former chaplain, because you remind them or trigger memories both mental and embodied, they would rather keep suppressed."

For that same reason, very many CPE survivors may not want to revisit their own memories and that may make it diffficult to form healing dialogues and social justice projects for reforming CPE.

The ones who do this will have to have done some extensive healing and even then, if a group is formed to discuss CPE abuses, this may trigger more material people think they have worked thorugh and anger may erupt as old agonies are re-enacted.

Thats what is so difficult--the worse the exploitation and trauma, the longer it takes to revisit the trauma and work it through.

One must conscoiusly reverse one's crucifixion in order to resurrect.

And thats something, if one is currently carrying the day to day responsiblities of being in the ministry.

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Re: Anyone upset about unprofessionally run groups and circles
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 07, 2011 10:18PM

Search terms to assist tormented CPE students to find what has been written about CPE by persons who have had a hard time so that more can begin disclosing their experiences, good, bad and abusive to brutal.

Remember, if you want 'toughening up', chaplaincy training is, in my informed opinion, not the right place. Life dumps enough toughening up on us. Most of us go to seminary or onto the ordination track because we have already endured suffering and want to become healers. What is needed is wisdom, equanimity, observation and listening skills, and how to train the sensitivity one already has--not a toughening up process that will only add brutality to what you came in with.

Most CPE supervisors who talk about the need to get toughened up would not last long in genuine military boot camp. They're just seeking to rationalize how they were dumped on by passing it to the next generation--and Jesus has a lot to say about the abuses of power. Jesus would have flunked CPE because he'd have treated abusive supervisors the way he kicked the money changers out of the Temple.

If you think you need toughening up, do a bootcamp program at your gym. You'll come out of it physically fit--more than can be said for how a lot of us feel after CPE.

For for the toughening up deal, run by professionals, sign on for induction into one of the branches of the US Armed Forces.

At least you will be in a toughening up process run by people who have been in battle and for real, not civilian bullies who didnt put their own behinds into psychotherapy for the needed number of years with an undistractable therapist who could help them ID and control their countertransferance issues before becoming CPE supervisors.

In Hasford's Vietnam novel, The Short Timers, there is a term 'lifer' - defined as one who has power one does not deserve to have.

This thread is includes discussions of CPE for persons whose supervisors or classmates are lifers and who reached CTL (military slang for Crap Tolerance Level) but couldnt walk away because the CPE maggot pit was needed for ordination and one couldnt walk way from ones unit for for of having another year at school more student loans to pay off, and the fear of being IDd as unsuitable by one's ordination committee.

That, friends, is duress, and part of the problem with CPE is that its required and therefore one takes it under duress. If you have good supervisor and classmates, youve won the jackpot.

If not..come here and get some inspiration for starting a support group. It would be a great ministery to create an online CPE support group for people going through it and who need some place to vent and get ideas on how to get around the BS until they finish the unit and get out.

Search terms for tormented CPE survivors surfing the internet.

Clinical Pastoral Education


chaplaincy training

screw this




Is this crazy

Is this unreasonable

support group



F**ck this


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2015 11:16AM by corboy.

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