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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.

« July 2015 | Main

August 30, 2015

THE LOSS OF DONALD CAPPS--By Raymond Lawrence, General Secretary


The sudden death of Don Capps in an automobile accident has deprived CPSP, as well as the entire clinical pastoral community, of arguably the wisest voice of our generation in the field of clinical pastoral work. He was this generation's most prodigious and prolific writer in our field. And fortunately for us, we are left with his extensive body of literature. This, of course, is no substitute for his wise and and humane personal presence which so many of us experienced. Not to mention his colorful sense of humor and his knack for poetry, which often tested boundaries of polite society. Don was a good friend to many of us in CPSP, and to the community itself. He was the principal speaker at our Eleventh Plenary meeting in 2001, at Virginia Beach and was given the Helen Flanders Dunbar Award by CPSP in 2013.

The principal contribution of Don Capps to our field was his consistent work of correlating psychology and theology, represented most powerfully in his 2008 work, Jesus the Village Psychiatrist. In so many ways Don Capps emphasized the importance of the person of the minister as the singular therapeutic tool.

His wife Karen was also injured in the same accident, and we wish her a full recovery, and solace in her grief.

Raymond Lawrence, General Secretary

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 11:39 AM

A Silently Politicized Profession-- by The Reverend Dr. Belen Gonzalez y Perez, CPSP Diplomate


Ever heard it said, “There are no politics in the chaplaincy profession,” Yeah right! I would like to believe that politics is not a constituent characteristic of the chaplaincy profession. However, I submit to you that such is a fantasy that betrays a lack of understanding, as well as a propensity to remain within the infantilized protection of a quintessential inner circle of the herd. Truth be told, there are a many political forces and interests that push and pull on the chaplaincy profession.
Politics, no matter the context, is the practice of influencing others to gain and maintain power and influence in a government or an institution. The chaplaincy, as a profession, is no exception to the innate human propensity to seek to protect and secure its own professional niche within an ever growing politicized society with its many competing social constructs.

Although ordinarily thought of in terms of belonging to the clergy caste, a chaplain is in fact not only of the clergy but more frequently a non-clergy member that exercises the role and function of the chaplaincy. This is somewhat confusing to the outsider.
To the outsider the chaplain is a minister of some particular faith tradition. In some faith traditions a chaplain is exclusively a role and title reserved for the official clergy. In other faith traditions a non-clergy is able to exercise both the role and function of the chaplain. For instance, it was the traditional expectation in Lutheran clergy circles that before considering to enter a chaplaincy the cleric required a minimum of 3 years of prior experience as a pastor of a congregation. It was thought that such congregational experience would be foundational to the future chaplain`s pastoral identity, work, and practice as a chaplain representing the faith community.

There are instances where soon after completing the standard four years of graduate theological program in a Lutheran seminary that a select candidate could be placed into the chaplaincy instead of the parish. On its face and without too much difficulty, the preferential nature of such an appointment in light of the minimal prior congregational work expected of all other clergy, clearly betrays that such appointments demonstrate a politicized reality.

Unlike the Lutherans with whom I served many years, other faith groups can commission and ordain a minister to serve exclusively within the chaplaincy without any graduate theological education. There are even chaplaincy associations whose exclusive function and raison d’être is to train and ordain protestant ministers as chaplains. In and of itself, this manifests that there is indeed a significant politicized reality that gives shape to such distinctions among and within faith traditions.

Anecdotally, the training and employment of chaplains remains among the silently politicized professions in the United States. This is evident as one seeks training for the chaplaincy. As important as it is to have some notion about the social stratification and design regarding where chaplains actually serve and employed in our society, it is as important to know where and what kind of training will be necessary to equip others for this highly politicized profession.

When I was a college student in the mid-1980`s and already serving as a volunteer chaplain assisting local Lutheran pastors make hospital visits of sick, I applied to the local hospital`s clinical pastoral education program thinking that the training would be of help in preparing me to better serve. To my surprise I was refused a placement in the program because the CPE supervisor wished applicants to have a minimum of a bachelors degree to qualify. Although I did have an associates degree, sadly I was rejected from participating. I learned then and there that the very training for chaplaincy itself was a politicized reality and that I did not at the time possess the requisite tools. Suffice it to say that the CPE supervisor did also say that I could apply again when I had a bachelors degree. I did not apply for a CPE program until it was required of me to do so as an M.Div. student nearly ten years later.

The CPE program that I applied to was listed in the ACPE booklet provided to all seminary students at my school. Both the seminary field education director and the CPE supervisor were supervisory faculty members of the ACPE, Inc. Upon acceptance into the summer intensive CPE program in 1994 in NYC, I learned that the CPE unit was governed by the Standards of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, Inc. Apparently, this detail must have either been overlooked by the field education director and I was permitted to attend the CPSP CPE program in fulfillment of my CPE unit required by the seminary. As I look back, it is plausable that the field education director might have engaged in some political considerations that allowed for me to complete a unit of CPE at an ACPE accredited center with an ACPE supervisor that also offered CPE education governed by the Standards of CPSP. The fact that the CPE unit governed by the Standards of CPSP was accepted for graduate level credit at the seminary also makes for an interesting discussion as to whether it matters or not that CPE was from an accredited ACPE or CPSP training center. Upon review by the faculty, the CPE unit that I completed was accepted by the seminary to meet the expected requirements.

I was very encouraged by my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education training. I was encouraged not because I was learning theology but because there was something so real and palpable about encountering and learning how to journey with other human beings that now found themselves in the most vulnerable and often life and death situation of their lives. I think I did more learning and introspection in one unit of CPE than I did in three years of seminary. Don`t get me wrong, I value seminary training and I ranked among the top five percent in my seminary class. I am thankful for my seminary education. It was the seminary curriculum after all that led me to my first CPE unit.
Here is where the politics continue. Upon graduation from seminary I wished to be assigned to a chaplaincy in addition to a congregation. I was provided the expected and necessary guidance by the denominational leaders that required that I obtain a denominational endorsement from the specialized ministries office at headquarters. To my surprise I was informed that I would require having 4 units of CPE training completed at an ACPE, Inc. program if I wished to come up for review and endorsement in chaplaincy. This prompted me to investigate who the specialized ministry staff were and to learn something about their particular chaplaincy affiliations. Lo and behold, I learned that the key staff at the specialized ministries office were supervisory faculty members of the ACPE, Inc. Might this suggest that although shrouded in Lutheran garments the ACPE, Inc. had member ambassadors promoting the exclusive recognition of their own CPE units as the only acceptable chaplaincy training for endorsement within a Lutheran denomination? The endorsement process for Lutherans was indeed a politicized process. It can appear to the outsider that the ACPE, Inc. , as a non-Lutheran entity, not only demonstrates its political power and the political reach it wields through its representative Lutheran members; it also might suggest that as an organization some of its members are religiously devoted to shaping their own church polity to remain in conformity to the ACPE, Inc. political agenda of securing and maintaining a veto power for CPE training programs it will accept and CPE training it will reject. Such political behavior might also be explained by the endorsement leaders themselves seeking to consolidate and maintain their own place as endorsers within the denomination, to create and promote church polity that requires Lutheran members with ACPE affiliation to call the shots for the specialized ministries within the denomination at the exclusion of all others.

This is not to suggest that there is any conspiracy out there being orchestrated by ACPE, Inc. Rather it appears part of normal political process within faith groups and their representative members who hold varied political affiliations and views to allow those particular interests to also shape their church polity even at the expense of a fairness, inclusion, or neutral principle.

However, there remain real and undisclosed political forces at work in the chaplaincy profession that should not be ignored or underestimated. This is all the more true if you belong to a new organization like CPSP. I can imagine the murmuring saying: “But CPSP is not new.” To some degree CPSP is not new and to a greater degree it is a new player on the block, a unique organization that yearns to remain continually renewing itself as a prophetic community somewhat still at the margins. As CPSP members, we have witnessed the growing pains of CPSP`s ongoing transformation.

There is a great virtue in CPSP. It is an organization that has made a space for many, especially minorities and persons of color, to enter and remain sustained in the chaplaincy and pastoral counseling professions. It should not be overlooked that wherever new professional organizations are formed and a shift occurs in the status quo, political forces and traditional interests often seek to push back to maintain the previously existing political equilibrium that insured their dominance within the profession.

CPSP has also created a space for ACPE supervisors who experienced professional angst and were not entirely satisfied with the direction of their ACPE colleagues over 25 years ago. Some of them are the founders of CPSP and they remain our connection to the origins of the clinical pastoral education movement in this country, and we remain as the legacy of their arduous journey to speak the truth to power. There is much politics in that too and there will always be political consequences that come with change in any profession and daring to speak the truth to power in a silently politicized profession.
Belen Gonzalez y Perez, CPSP Diplomate

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 11:20 AM

August 21, 2015

Editor's Note; All of Us Do or will Need a Little help Along the Way

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 6:40 PM

August 17, 2015

Editor's Note: Doctors Fail to Address Patients’ Spiritual Needs by Dr ROBERT KLITZMAN, M.D


In an article posted in the NYTimes by Dr ROBERT KLITZMAN, M.D on August 13, 2015
Dr Klitzman, MD comments:

"Eventually, my patient dying from cancer did speak with a chaplain. I noticed him visiting her one day as I walked by her door. I again spotted him two days later heading toward her door. The next morning, I thought that she looked calmer, more relieved than I’d seen her in weeks. She still had unremitting fevers and died a few months later, in that room. But the chaplain had helped her, I felt, in a way that I and medical treatment could not.

I still regret my silence with that patient, but have tried to learn from it. Doctors themselves do not have to be spiritual or religious, but they should recognize that for many patients, these issues are important, especially at life’s end. If doctors don’t want to engage in these conversations, they shouldn’t. Instead, a physician can simply say: “Some patients would like to have a discussion with someone here about spiritual issues; some patients wouldn’t. If you would like to, we can arrange for someone to talk with you.”

Unfortunately, countless patients feel uncomfortable broaching these topics with their doctors. And most physicians still never raise it.

Certainly this article must encourage Clinical Chaplains to become even more proactive within their institution and with physicians to be a vital member of the medical team to provide care and counseling in such heartbreaking situations.

Let's also hope that chaplains who are called upon in this role are well trained as clinical chaplains, equally versed in matters of faith and theology but equally true, and some times even more important, they have a solid and informed utilization of the social sciences in the field of counseling and psychotherapy along with a generous amount of self-understanding and use of self in the pastoral engagement. There must be a creative tension between both disciplines and utilization of self in clinical practice.

The recent critique of chaplains in their work with patients in similar situations as described by Dr Klitzman, Raymond Lawrence in recent published articles on the Pastoral Report, calls into question how well prepared are chaplains to enter into such a clinical arena with such patients.

Perry Miller, Editor

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 7:15 PM

Dates for the National Clinical Training Seminar-East Announced


Francine Hernandez, Coordinator for NCTS - East, announces the dates and venue for the gathering of the National Clinical Training Seminar-East.

Please place on your calendar the dates of November 2-3, 2015.

The venue is the Loyola Retreat Center, Morristown, New Jersey.

The NCTS training event is designed for Supervisors-in-Training, Pastoral Counselors and Psychotherapists, CPE Interns and Residents, Clinical Chaplains, Training CPE Supervisors, etc.

Howard Friedman and a portion of his team (affiliate with A.K.Rice) will provide the leadership to focus on group work at the Fall NCTS.

Further information will be provided relative to the theme of the training event.

Please use the Registration Form posted below to register.


Francine Hernandez, Coordinator for NCTS - East

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:48 PM

August 10, 2015

CPSP Cyber Meeting of the Governing Council Announced


Editor's Note: Bill Scar, CPSP President, sent the following message to all members of the CPSP Governing Council:

To All Members of the CPSP Governing Council


We now look forward to the upcoming meeting of the CPSP Governing Council, which has been revised to become a cyber meeting. As you know this change was indeed the result of many concerns expressed about total costs to the CPSP and to individuals for this business meeting. In addition, there were those who indicated that they could not make it to New Jersey and asked us to find some arrangement for them to be "present" electronically.

The solution to these concerns was to move creatively to cyber meeting technology for the entire event. Although we cannot make everyone happy about this decision, we can ask for everyone to cooperate and help us to make the very most of this opportunity to work together using the latest in media.

Our success will depend on the good faith efforts of everyone involved, and this will move our beloved CPSP forward into the 21st century at last. Individual Chapters and committees are already using the Internet. The willing spirits and faithful example of our Governing Council members next month will redound to the benefit of future events and our future leaders. This is really about our future, at a time when other clinical organizations are stagnating or terminating their programs.

In concurrence with our General Secretary, Raymond Lawrence, I am calling the Governing Council into session to begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 20th. The schedule will be organized to take advantage of the possibilities afforded by this form of meeting technology. The meeting will end no later than 3 p.m. on Monday, September 21st.

Our ethic is fulfilled when we bring together the input from all parties. Right now, the three Chapters [Chapter of Chapters, Diplomate Chapter, and Executive Chapter] that form the Governing Council, along with our Standing Committees, are meeting to complete their work, from which the agenda and schedule will be finalized. At that time, participants will be informed of the procedures for connecting to the GC meeting. We have already been testing the technology, and it is superior to what was available even just a year ago.

We are excited to initiate a new format for engaging one another and the work that must be done. Neither the meeting nor we have to be perfect. With patience, good will, and a spiritual blessing or two, we will learn and we will succeed.


Bill Scar, President

Bill Scar
CPSP President

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 7:49 PM

August 5, 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: A Book that Examines" Being Called" from a variety of perspectives.

Publisher described in its email announcement as:

"Scientists and scholars representing diverse disciplines and worldviews describe and interpret their experience of feeling called to a particular life path or vocation. The spectrum of perspectives represented in this collection ranges from atheist neuroscientists to agnostic psychologists to devout theologians. This collection functions as the definitive reference guide to callings, while serving as fascinating reading - especially to readers who have ever tried to make sense of a calling."

I've not yet read the book but given one of our own, CPSP Diplomate Harold Ellens, is one of the editors and contributors, it must be a substancetive examination of what it means to be "called" from a variety of perspectives, not just clergy who want to corner the market place on the idea.

One drawback is that Amazon lists the price of the book as $48. Has the publisher not heard of E-books that can be downloaded at a reasonable price?

The Pastoral Report will be interested in your response to the book.

Perry Miller, Editor

Perry Miller, Editor

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 7:27 PM

August 4, 2015

Ain't the Way to Die

No comment is needed. Please pass on to colleagues, family and friends.

Perry Miller, Editor.

Perry Miller, Editor.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:40 PM

August 1, 2015

ANNUAL NCTS-WEST, OCTOBER 18–20, 2015--Roles, Boundaries, and Vulnerability in Care-Providing Institutions


Join us for this year’s NCTS-West at Christ the King Retreat Center in Sacramento, California.  

This will be an intensive, experiential, residential conference intended to expand your clinical awareness and deepen your capacity to provide pastoral care. Over three days we will create a temporary learning organization offering an opportunity to notice how we function in groups and the institutions in which we work—without the pressures and politics of the actual workplace. In this unique environment, insights can be developed that help increase our influence and effectiveness.

This is the first CPSP Group Relations Conference co-hosted with Grex, the West Coast affiliate of the A K Rice Institute, offering CPSP the opportunity to work with highly experienced Group Relations practitioners in a focused and reflective environment.

Due to the unique goals of this training model, the number of participants at this conference will be strictly limited. Registrants will pay a significantly reduced cost for this all-inclusive event.

> For conference fees and registration, go to the NCTS-West web site:


> What is the relationship between my personal and pastoral identities and my professional role?

> How in my role do I affect the individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions that I work in, and how do they, in turn, impact me and my ability to stay in role?

> Where do I get the authority to do my work? 

> What is my experience of leading and following?

> What does my training help me to see, and what might my training cause me to miss seeing?

> How are the human needs to belong and connect manifest in the complex environments in which we work?


While group-relations conference learning is a very individual matter, there are common outcomes for CPSP members that could include:
> Increasing appreciation of the power of the group unconscious, for example, in CPE and your CPSP chapter.

> Enhancing awareness of self in relation to the group dynamics present with patients and families we serve. 

> Noticing the group dynamics within interdisciplinary care teams and learning how to work in them effectively.


The conference will help you understand Boundaries, Authority, Role, and Task (BART) as they are applied. In addition, each participant will be part of an Application Group and receive individualized consultation on their unique work situation. After the conference, a staff-hosted online Video Post-Conference will offer the opportunity to continue to integrate the experience and apply the learning at work.


Participation in an experiential group-relations conference is a requirement for all CPSP Supervisors-in-Training (SITs) prior to being certified as Diplomates. It is also an invaluable clinical learning experience for all Clinical Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors committed to excellence. For those certified as CPSP Diplomates in Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, it goes without saying that a thorough understanding of group relations is absolutely essential.


Jack Lampl, Director, is the past-president and current board member of the A K Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems and of Grex. He has been collaborating with CPSP for the past three years to enhance the quality of clinical training and broaden the exposure to group relations concepts. He is a regular staff member at group-relations conferences at the Leadership Institute of the University of San Diego.

Micki Seligson, Associate Director, is a Jungian Analyst, former board member of the A K Rice Institute, Senior Research Associate, Project Director, Founder, The National Institute on Out of School Time, Wellesley College Centers for Women, Wellesley MA (ret.)


David Roth, Administrator, is a Diplomate CPE supervisor and director of spiritual care at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, co-founder of NCTS-West, general editor of the Boisen Books Project, and a member of the board of directors of Grex.

Ed Luckett, Jr., Associate Administrator, holds an M.Div. degree, is Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain for Kaiser Permanente, and Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Additional Consultants

Kate Regan holds a doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA, as well as a Master’s degree in Religion from Fordham University, in New York. She has over 30 years of experience working with public, private, and not-for-profit organizations as both an internal and an external consultant.

Tom Butler holds an M.Div. degree and is in private practice. He is a former board member of the A K Rice Institute.
Mojgan Jahan is a clinical psychologist with over 30 years of clinical experience. In addition to treating individuals with chronic medical conditions, traumas, anxiety, depression, and relationship concerns, she conducts workshops and trains other medical providers.

Isabelle Reiniger, LCSW, is in private practice in Chicago and Evanston, IL; previously Group Psychotherapist at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.


David Roth NCTS-West Director

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 1:20 PM