Chattanooga Association for Clinical Pastorial Care

[What Is CACPC? ]

[What is Clinical Pastoral Education?]

[Long Term Strategic Plan]

The Chattanooga Association for Clinical Pastoral Care (CACPC) was formed and incorporated in 1984 by a coalition of persons interested in the training of those who minister. CACPC received full accreditation in 1988 from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE). ACPE is the standard-setting, accrediting and certifying agency nationally recognized for this purpose by the U.S. Department of Education.

CACPC is governed by a Board of Directors, including medical doctors, psychologists, nurses, parish ministers, institutional chaplains, social workers and others.  Its mission is to provide clinical training for those who minister.


The Chattanooga Association for Clinical Pastoral Care offers programs of Clinical Pastoral Education through Erlanger Health System and Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation. Alternate training sites are sometimes available, with Erlanger and Siskin Hospitals as the central sites.

Participants in the program are expected to:


Level I and II units of CPE are offered on a unit-by-unit basis. Level I CPE is a person's initial unit. With completion of expected learning outcomes, a person may then enroll for further units of CPE for continued learning and growth. One unit of CPE requires 400 hours of work, 300 hours are dedicated to pastoral care in the clinic or parish, and 100 hours are used for educational seminars and supervision. Programs are as follows:

Extended Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (Hospital-Based)

In the Fall (late August) and Winter (early January), 16 and 18-week programs of part-time CPE are offered.  The part-time schedule and extended time period enables participants to serve in the hospital setting while attending school or serving in their own ministry setting. Participants attend seminars on two half-days per week (usually Monday and Wednesday), while serving as chaplain to assigned areas of the hospital 12 hours to 15 hours per week. In addition, each participant serves in a weekend 24 hour, in hospital, on-call rotation.  Over night sleeping facilities are provided.

Extended Clinical Pastoral Education (Parish-Based)

As requested, a nine-month extended program of CPE is offered beginning in September or October for persons interested in using their parish or institutional setting for ministry and learning. Full-time clergy are usually attracted to this program, as it enables them to remain in full-time service while gaining clinical training.

Full-Time Summer Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education

A full-time unit of CPE is offered during the summer months for 10 weeks.  Participants serve full-time 40 hours per week as chaplain in assigned clinical areas.  Daily seminars and weekly individual supervision are included in the work week. Each student also participates in 24-hour, in-house chaplain on-call responsibilities. Overnight sleeping facilities are provided.

Full-Time Residency Year of Clinical Pastoral Education

A full time residency year of Clinical Pastoral Education is offered.  The program normally begins in late August and continues to the end of August the next calendar year. Participants serve full-time, 40 hours per week, as chaplain to assigned clinical areas. Daily seminars and weekly individual supervision are included. Each student participates in 24 hour, in house, chaplain on call responsibilities.  Over night sleeping facilities are provided.  Chaplain residents are paid a stipend.

CPE with CACPC offers:


What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a method of theological education for ministry.  It is experiential, person-centered education focusing on learning and developing pastoral skills in a clinical setting. Ministers, theological students and other persons interested in learning ministry participate in CPE for personal and professional growth. Under the guidance of a supervisor, CPE students from all faiths provide pastoral care to hospital patients, family members and staff. Increased confidence and competency in pastoral function and identity occur as one learns by experience.

The Essential Elements in CPE include:

What kinds of things might be included in the individual learning contract?

The CPE participant's contract is developed around the learning goals of

Some centers also offer Pastoral Specialization, focusing on the student's desire to become competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of ministry, e.g. oncology, urban ministry, parish ministry, hospice ministry, etc.

What does CPE prepare a person to do?

CPE serves as a part of one's preparation for parish ministry, chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching and counseling.  A student's learning contract may be focused toward integration of theological, psychological, and pastoral insights into the role and function of a parish minister.  Or the contract may be designed with a career goal of chaplaincy or pastoral counseling.

Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Supervisory CPE working toward certification as a CPE supervisor.  In Supervisory CPE, the student learns the theory and practice of supervision and has an experience of supervising CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of a CPE supervisor.

CPE develops the capacity for the pastoral and spiritual care of individuals, families and systems.

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 which are members of the ACPE have graduate degree programs which combine academic study and CPE Supervisory CPE.