Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) abuses and systemic sin
Date: July 19, 2018 09:47PM
interpersonal relations IPR
I am very sorry to hear this and not at all surprised.
Persons established in ministry would be a good group among whom to
create a CPE Survivors movement.
If some way could be found to educate students about CPE hazards and give them survival tips prior to doing CPE, that would be great.
Creating an anonymous portal such as CPE Truth would be fantastic.
Abuse stories, a message board would be great.
Get legal advice before launching this but it would be a great prophetic
and healing ministry all rolled into one. .
If you are in an abusive CPE program and cannot leave due to the pressure of
completing ordination on schedule, here is a set of survival tips:
* Avoid social isolation. Find people outside your program to whom you can
For the sake of your sanity, you may need to arrange temporary survival sessions with an understanding counselor. If that person can be available by phone or text, this can be a sanity saver. (I can only wish smartphones were available to me and my CPE sufferer friends twenty years ago)
If you qualify for Alanon or Codependangs Anonymous or another 12 Step program, going to meetings may help. However - choose your confidantes carefully.
Avoid getting into relationships or making important decisions while enduring CPE. In that kind of anguish, your mind is in survival mode. Keep important decisions on hold as much as you can until later.
Your fellow students in CPE may or may not be safe confidantes. You are all under pressure. Some may side with the supervisor. Some of your fellow students may be more wounding than the supervisor.
* You have the right to your inner privacy. The spouse of a CPE abuse survivor
told me that one way her husband coped was by not making himself vulnerable
when writing verbatims or during IPR (interpersonal relations).
In short, do not cast pearls before swine. A friend of Janis Joplin said that
her tragedy was that she skinned herself alive each and every time she performed on stage. As he put it, that was not sustainable. He wished Janis had been like
the great jazz and blues musicians -- hold some of your power back. Budget your energy.
Only allow God into your Holy of Holies. The CPE supervisor is not God.
IMO CPE programs based in hospitals and prisons (as many programs are), is not
optimal training for pastoral counseling. In total institutions such as hospitals and prisons, boundaries take physical forms, the lack of privacy imposed by the semi public nature of hospital rooms and limitation on movement imposed by illness or incarceration.
By contrast, in parish work, an effective pastoral counselor or therapist
meets with people who are ambulatory, and in the privacy of an office. In such circumstances, the counselor must have internalized boundary awareness and boundary ethics - and be able to apply this to each session. Despite the
eloquence of CPE supervisors touting their programs, hospital based CPE is not necessarily transferable to parish and congregational settings.
Another concern is that CPE trainees may be forced to submit to a supervisor's favorite methods or fads.
A CPE trainee may have grave reservations about the enneagram but what if a CPE supervisor is enthralled with the enneagram and insists on judging trainees based on it? A trainee who protests risks flunking the program and being thwarted in his or her ordination.
What if a supervisor is an avid proponent of Landmark Education and a CPE trainee wants nothing to do with Landmark?
Or the supervisor has a different theological/political stance than the trainees?
And, sad to report, some CPE supervisors are just bullies, period.
IMO, the worst feature of CPE is that unlike psychotherapy, one is, in effect under duress as most persons do CPE as a requirement for ordination. One is at the mercy of intrusive supervisors and troubled fellow students and cannot protest or leave, for fear of being delayed or worse, failing ordination.
What adds to the pressure are the financial burdens - so many seminary students
are burdened by student loans and must find pulpit employment as soon as possible so as to repay the loans. Anything that hampers finishing ordination requirements (including CPE) means a delay in graduation, obtaining employment and paying back the loans.
In addition, there is anxiety at home from worried family.
In dead seriousness, the best remedy for the systemic abuse in CPE
would be that CPE no longer be the only counseling training option required for ordination.
Instead, CPE should be just one of a variety of training options available to persons on the ordination track.
That way, people on the ordination track would have a variety of counseling training options to choose from. If CPE were no longer the only option, the abusive CPE supervisors would find themselves with fewer trainees.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2018 10:00PM by corboy.