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The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.

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November 14, 2004


The biannual National Clinical Training Seminar (NCTS), usually held during spring and fall of each year, was held November 4th through 5th at Carmel Retreat in Mahwah, New Jersey with a total of 39 persons attending!

This event brought together an ethnically and religiously diverse group of pastoral counselors, supervisory trainees in clinical pastoral education, chaplain interns, chaplain residents and supervisors from New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Georgia.

Participants were assigned to small groups where they presented their professional and clinical work for consultation. Time was also scheduled for each participant to report on his or her learning to the larger group. This exercise serves to inculcate in the participant ownership of his/her own learning and enables an assessment of the participant’s openness to supervision. Furthermore, the learning is shared with those who were not in the presenter’s small group.

The Tavistock group relations session, with Raymond J. Lawrence, Jr. as consultant, is an ongoing model of group theory and practice during NCTS events. This model continues to offer invaluable insight into the “here and now” conscious and unconscious dynamics of group in relation to leadership and authority. It also provides participants with the space to exercise their personal authority and leadership if they so choose to. During this event, resistance to the spiral seating and the need to belong were identified as the dominant posture of the group. Concerns pertaining to trust of the group were raised and there was a dichotomy of those who worked hard at the task of the group and those who were struggling to understand the task.

We were enamored by the ‘civil’ posture of the debate (discussion) between Raymond Lawrence and Richard Liew, with John DeVelder as perhaps the ‘neutral’ party. Part I “The History and Problems of Clinical Supervision” and part II, ‘The Hidden Agenda in Clinical Supervision.” There was such an interest sparked by these presenters. Questions and comments were evoked from the group as both Raymond and Richard expounded on the ‘Idiosyncratic self’ supported by John DeVelder’s insightful ‘sidebar comments.’ Raymond Lawrence began the ‘discussion’ with a thumbnail on the life and impact of Anton Boisen in the development of Clinical Pastoral Training (later termed Clinical Pastoral Education).

He expounded greatly on the ‘Idiosyncratic self.’ Even though the social nature of persons impacts who they are, there is a certain individualistic characteristic that shapes us into the pastoral caregiver that we become.

“The development of the idiosyncratic self for the purpose of ministry is critical to developing empathy” according to Richard Liew. It was clear that use of self is one’s greatest tool of ministry. There was a discussion about keeping theology in pastoral care; and one of the participants (Cesar Espineda) reminded the group that “the Greek word for soul is Psyche, therefore one cannot separate psychology from theology.” Raymond forged a different paradigm for the group, “the question is not where is God, but what is commanded?” One question was posed by a participant, “ What about the conflict of the use of skills and the development of the idiosyncratic self? One of the participants responded (Joel Harvey), “As long as we function in the medical model then that is skill based.” The fall training seminar inspired a lot of hope and anticipation for the spring seminar. In the spring, let’s make this indeed a “National” training seminar!

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 2:10 PM