Clinical Pastoral Education CPE

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an experiential learning process that provides professional chaplaincy education and spiritual care training for ministry. It brings you into supervised encounters with people in crisis. Through intense involvement with people in need of spiritual care, and the feedback you receive from peers and teachers, you develop new awareness of yourself as a person, your abilities as a caregiver, and the needs of those whom you serve. Through reflection on specific human situations, you learn to utilize your faith tradition as a lens that informs your understanding and practice of spiritual care. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping people, you develop skills in interpersonal and professional relationships. CPE interns are people preparing to enter professional hospital chaplaincy, seminary students, interested laypersons, others in graduate programs, and spiritual caregivers seeking continuing education. In our CPE program, we strive to facilitate diverse student groups whenever possible, including women and men of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds and faith traditions.

What Does CPE Teach?

Our CPE program is designed to help you gain experience and expertise in the following ways:

Pastoral reflection: Reflecting on yourself as a person and spiritual caregiver in relation to people in crisis, your supervisor, and your peers, as well as the CPE curriculum and the hospital wherein you are serving.

Pastoral formation: Focusing on your personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry.

Pastoral competence: Deepening your function as a spiritual caregiver, including skill development and knowledge of faith traditions and the behavioral sciences.

Pastoral specialization: Becoming competent and knowledgeable in a particular area of clinical healthcare service.

What Do CPE Students Do?

As a CPE student, you can expect to participate in the following ways:

Direct ministry with patients/residents, families, and staff: Most of your time will involve working as a chaplain in a particular area of the hospital, providing spiritual care to the people who come onto your unit and interacting with interdisciplinary staff members in team meetings.

Clinical supervision: You will receive both individual and group supervision in all areas of your training (100 hours of supervised education for every 300 hours of clinical work), including a final evaluation at the end of each unit of CPE.

Peer group work: You will join a group with other CPE students and a supervisor, where you meet to present cases based on your clinical work, reflect on your faith tradition, simulate incidents and practice spiritual care responses, and engage in interpersonal group relations.

Didactic workshops and seminars: You will attend presentations on topics related to spiritual care and assessment, ethics, behavioral sciences, hospital chaplaincy, cultural sensitivity, interfaith awareness and other issues.

Reading and writing assignments: You will be expected to do supplemental reading and prepare papers related to your learning goals.

Educational format: A full-time summer intensive unit is a minimum of 400 hours of supervised experience for 10 weeks. A part-time semester unit requires 20 hours per week for 20 weeks during the academic year. There are two semester units offered, one beginning in September and the other beginning in January. Both of these units result in one unit of CPE credit. The 20-week semester unit and the 10-week summer intensive unit are the two formats offered at Norwalk Hospital.

Tuition: $800.00 per unit

CPE Program Application

Norwalk Hospital is accredited to offer Level I/II CPE, and Certified Educator CPE by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), located at One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030, an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. You may contact ACPE by calling 404-320-1472 or visiting their website at

To learn more or to apply to Norwalk Hospital’s CPE program, visit ACPE’s website for the standard CPE application form, and return the completed application to Rev. Debra Slade using the contact information below.  Applications can also be sent to Rev. Debra Slade by email with PDF attachments. 

To learn more about CPE offerings, please contact:

The Rev. Debra Slade, BCC Director, Department of Spiritual Care
Norwalk Hospital, 34 Maple Street, Norwalk, CT 06856
Phone: 203-852-2535