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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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January 29, 2012

From the Editor: What People Talk About Before They Die


I'm confident that I have just read one of the most deeply human and profound descriptions of the work of the clinical chaplain that I have ever encountered.

Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain in Massachusetts and the author of "Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago."

She is featured in a CNN article published January 28, 2012 entitled My Faith: What People Talk about Before They Die.

She starts her article with an encounter with her seminary professor who quizzed her what she talked with dying people about in her clinical internship at a cancer Hospital:

"I talk to the patients," I told him.

"You talk to patients? And tell me, what do people who are sick and dying talk to the student chaplain about?" he asked.

I had never considered the question before. “Well,” I responded slowly, “Mostly we talk about their families.”

“Do you talk about God?

“Umm, not usually.”

“Or their religion?”

“Not so much.”

“The meaning of their lives?”


“And prayer? Do you lead them in prayer? Or ritual?”

“Well,” I hesitated. “Sometimes. But not usually, not really.”

I felt derision creeping into the professor's voice. “So you just visit people and talk about their families?”

“Well, they talk. I mostly listen.”

“Huh.” He leaned back in his chair.

The next week in the professor's lecture he, without using her name, attempted to shame her clinical practice of ministry by saying: "...if I was ever sick in the hospital, if I was ever dying, that the last person I would ever want to see is some Harvard Divinity School student chaplain wanting to talk to me about my family.”

Obviously the professor believed that this was a time to talk about God, faith and life beyond, not family and loved ones. The young student said that she felt shame and regret now thinking that a more seasoned chaplain would have addressed the God and other theological issues with the dying. She had failed.

Thirteen years later, however, she is now a hospice chaplain. Without hesitancy she declares that she would give the same answer to the professor if asked again. She knows as most of us know as clinical chaplains, pastoral psychotherapists and counselors, usually the dying talk about their families and loved ones, not god, religion, faith, theology unless coerced by a chaplain or pastoral provider with their own agenda and counter-tranference issues.

Chaplain Egan gives a beautiful expression to what actually happens when the chaplain stays out of the way and soulfully listens:

"Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.

They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.

They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not. And sometimes, when they are actively dying, fluid gurgling in their throats, they reach their hands out to things I cannot see and they call out to their parents: Mama, Daddy, Mother."

I encourage you to read the full article. If you are a training supervisor, I hope you will pass it on to your trainees as well as your colleagues.

Perry Miller, Editor

Perry Miller, D. Min.
NC State Board Psychotherapist/Clinical Supervisor
(919) 442-8181

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 11:57 PM

January 18, 2012



William Albert's, a CPSP Diplomate, prophetic voice was once again heard in his recently published article in Counter Punch on January 16, 2012 entitled From Worship to Wall Street.

Alberts writes: "When a controversial protest movement arises, Christians often ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” Thus today the repeated question, “Would Jesus join the Occupy Wall Street Movement?

Certain Christians say Jesus would not be involved in Occupy Wall Street protests against capitalistic America’s widening economic and political gulf between rich and poor persons."

Dr. Alberts precedes to challenge Tony Perkins, president of the influential conservative Christian Family Research Council opposition to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

On the strength of the article, Dr. Alberts was interviewed by Press TV.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 6:01 PM

January 17, 2012







">George Hankins Hull is the Coordinator for the 2012 CPSP Plenary

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:26 PM

January 2, 2012



January 2, 2012


The leadership of CPSP regrets to inform you that the mediation process between CPSP and ACPE has broken down. The Mediation Agreement which was signed with high hopes in Philadelphia, November 30, 2010, by the leadership of both organizations, and which created a good spirit and considerable optimism in the larger clinical pastoral field, has been critically breached.

The rupture has come about as a result of a threat from ACPE against the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center's chaplaincy program as it goes for re-accreditation in January.  The medical center’s clinical training program is directed by John deVelder has been accredited by ACPE for several decades. DeVelder is a certified CPE Supervisor with both ACPE and CPSP credentials. He is a prominent clinical pastoral supervisor, well-respected, past President of CPSP and former Chair of the COMISS Network.

The hospital was informed by ACPE that its accreditation would be in jeopardy if it failed to disassociate itself officially from CPSP. Since the hospital's administration did not want a fight on its hands between two accrediting organizations, it forced deVelder to resign from CPSP on December 16. 

The 2010 Mediation Agreement was posited on the mutual agreement that ACPE would no longer enforce the hostile and derogatory language that had earlier been made official in the so-called ACPE "Article 43."  That article publicly describes CPSP programs as lacking in "consistent application of program standards…" and marked by "a lack of transparency" as well as unfair market practices. Such charges are without substance, and are clearly incongruent with the Mediation Agreement. Furthermore, such accusations are unbecoming of any clinical pastoral community's description of another, unless substantiated by persuasive evidence.

The 2010 Mediation Agreement states explicitly that ACPE and CPSP will refrain from mutual disparagement, or of judging the respective value of the other organization's programs.

ACPE has damaged the reputation of CPSP at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, and done so without a basis in fact. No self-respecting community can sit idle while its reputation is being tarnished in this way.

Therefore CPSP is requesting that the two organizations return to the negotiating table without delay in order to resolve in the best way possible the damage inflicted on CPSP at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center. 

The clinical training movement is a relatively small part of the wider culture. The work we are called to do is currently imperiled by many forces beyond our control. All the organizations in our field need to support one another as much as we are able. Ruthless competition amongst us is damaging to the entire movement.

As leaders in the field of religion and counseling we will bring shame on ourselves and the entire clinical pastoral movement if we are not able quickly to repair this breach and restore amicable relations between ACPE and CPSP.

We in CPSP are committed to the redemptive process in all human relationships and remain committed to the Mediation Agreement signed November, 30, 2010. We urge the ACPE to abide by that agreement as the only basis for a continuing collegial relationship between the two communities.

We are hopeful about the possibilities of repairing the damage done the clinical pastoral movement at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, and we urge the leadership of ACPE to join us at the negotiating table in an attempt to undo this damage.

Raymond J. Lawrence
General Secretary, CPSP

Raymond J. Lawrence
General Secretary, CPSP

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:14 PM

January 1, 2012

Change Your Words. Change Your World---by Perry Miller

Barbara McGuire, CPSP Registrar shared this video during the holiday season.

It is a simple yet profound message: "Change Your Words...Change Your World."

What if we changed our words we use with our mates, lovers, friends, children, family, enemies, employees, employers, trainees and the little people we see on the street and those who wait our tables and clean our floors?

What if the various clinical pastoral organizations such as the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and the Association for Professional Chaplains, etc changed the words we use in relationship with one another?

I think we know. We would change our world.

I hope in this new year of 2012 we might find the wisdom and the courage to change our words. Our world depends upon it.

Perry Miller, Editor

Perry Miller, Editor
NC State Board Psychotherapist/Clinical Supervisor
(919) 442-8181

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:26 PM

When a Heart is Broken--- Perry Miller, Editor


I am always touched by the power of human bonding, even with a pet. Such bonding can be transformative. As the training supervisor for an Urban Ministry CPE training program, I have seen this more than once in the pastoral ministry provided by CPE Interns and Residents.

The link below is a sad story that again makes the point that life and its meaning for those who have fallen on hard times can come down to the love and affection between a pet and its owner.

I have the hope that in in this new year 0f 2012, we in the clinical pastoral movement will ponder how we might work together to serve the "least of these" who are broken in spirit, life and relationships. Such would be a far more noble calling than the current atmosphre that is focused on competition, market shares and self-serving interest.

Happy New Year!

Perry Miller, Editor

Perry Miller, Editor

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 12:01 AM