Clinical Pastoral Education originally developed as a form of theological education that took place not exclusively in classrooms, but also in clinical settings where a form of religious ministry was being practiced. Its originators recognized the importance of studying not only the people who needed care, but also themselves, the caregivers. Experiential learning has always been a major part of CPE. AJRCA, responding to a need for clinically trained Jewish chaplains in the Los Angeles Area and around the country, began its CPE program in 2008.
Since clinical settings – hospitals, community care facilities, geriatric centers, psychiatric facilities, rehabilitation centers, and the workplace – are usually populated by people of many faiths, CPE practitioners early recognized the importance of learning about the cultural and faith traditions of others. At the same time, that means continually developing awareness of one’s own cultural, spiritual, and religious uniqueness. Thus religiously, psychologically, and intellectually, CPE stretches an individual’s capacity for awareness, for deep understanding of self and others, and for communicating across cultures, religions, and personal backgrounds. It is a time for personal growth and professional development as all students learn to apply themselves to the cultivation of their spiritual care skills.
The CPE Program of AJRCA is a satellite of Methodist Hospital of Southern California which is accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. for Levels I and II CPE training. Our program’s first mission is to provide high quality chaplaincy education to our own students but we also welcome students from the larger community when space is available. Through our CPE interns, we bring healing services to the residents and patients of a variety of clinical placement Sites throughout the greater Los Angeles Area. Some of our sites include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Santa Monica – UCLA Medical Center, Simms/Mann–UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, and Skirball Hospice. Frequently, students living farther away find sites in their home communities; and rabbinical and cantorial students are sometimes permitted, under appropriate conditions and definitions of clinical work, to use their synagogue as a CPE site. The chaplaincy faculty at AJRCA are continually working to developing other placement sites for our students.
We provide a wide range of opportunities for health care and institutional chaplaincy for CPE students. A student may choose to take only one CPE unit with us (our chaplaincy students must take at least two onsite), or as many as four units. Our students, alumni, and other professionals who wish to augment their skills with CPE and work towards board certification as chaplains can do so with us. During the program, students receive a wide spectrum of pastoral experiences, depending on their clinical placement, ranging from general medical and surgical services and specialized services including: Orthopedics, Elder Care, Congregational Pastoral Visitation, Alcohol and Addictions Recovery, VA Chaplaincy, OB/GYN, Surgical, Coronary and Neonatal Intensive Care, Rehabilitation, Pediatrics, Oncology and Transitional Care.
During the academic year, the CPE unit at AJRCA is an “extended unit” over a full academic year, accompanied by a seminar on a unique topic each year. This supplementary required seminar is offered for credit for AJRCA students and for Claremont School of Theology and Bayan Claremont students, and may also be accepted for academic credit by other graduate schools, with approval from that school. We also offer a summer CPE unit periodically.
Our CPE Units are accepted by ACPE, as indicated above, and also by NAJC, the National Association of Jewish Chaplains.