Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an experiential educational process set within the context of direct pastoral ministry. Developed within the Christian faith tradition, its action/reflection methodology and principles are applicable to other faiths and spiritual expression.

Jess, Lauren and Masoud share their experiences as students of the Clinical Pastoral Education course

CPE requires a commitment to the holistic care of persons and to exploration of the interface of life events and a person’s search for meaning. Participants enter into supervised ministry encounters with people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances and within a multi-disciplinary context.

CPE seeks to develop:

  • Pastoral, professional and personal identity
  • Pastoral awareness and competence in assessment of spiritual need / resources
  • capacity to evaluate ministry practice within small groups and individual supervision

CPE focuses on:

  • Pastoral ministry and formation
  • spiritual / theological reflection and integration
  • professional functioning and responsibility within institutional / agency / parish ministry practice

Learning outcomes are transferable to any pastoral ministry context.

Personal reflection and evaluation of ministry experiences enables participants to develop new awareness of their own humanity, the needs of those to whom they minister and the capacity to facilitate and support an individual’s search for and discovery of meaning.

Learning opportunities

Clinical Pastoral Education is carried out in the context of actual ministry to persons - patients, parishioners, clients, families and members of staff in a variety of settings. The RMH is a major teaching hospital offering ministry placements within a diverse range of critical and general care, surgical and medical units, under mentorship of experienced clinicians who are established members of faith communities. External community or agency placements are possible but must be arranged by the applicant.

Pastoral learning

Drawing on their own spiritual, cultural and familial journeys, participants are challenged to reflect on and gain awareness of:

  • the influences and personal resources they bring to the ministry encounter
  • the impact of these influences within themselves and within the other

Professional development

The program structure enables a multi-disciplinary team experience whereby participants develop inter-personal and inter-professional relationship skills, inter-disciplinary awareness, competence and accountability.

Personal growth

Individual faith and spiritual / religious practices, together with the participant’s behavioural and emotional responses to ministry and peer group interactions, are revealed and explored towards a greater place of integration.

Curriculum features

CPE emphasises experiential learning in an adult educational process. The emphasis is on exploring and learning from the responses of the “living human document” – oneself, peers, supervisors, mentors, and those encountered.

  • small group and individual supervisory sessions
  • seminar presentations focused on person / pastoral minister / client and participant/participant relationships
  • personal reflection and evaluation of the processes experienced through daily journals, pastoral intervention reviews and case-studies using multi-modal forms
  • theological reflection seminars
  • leadership of rituals
  • didactic presentations and reading tasks

Program dates 2022/23

Part-time and full-time study is available.

Apply by downloading the application form near the bottom of this page.

Full-time units

Summer 2022 – 2023
14 November 2022 to 25 January 2023
Applications close 9 September 2022

Part-time units

Semester 1, 2023
February – June 2023
Applications close early December 2022

Semester 2, 2023
July – November 2023
Applications close early May 2023

Cost and time commitments

The cost of the part-time and full-time units are both $1800

If part of a theological qualification through the University of Divinity, normal course fees apply, subject to fee help.

A unit of CPE consists of 400 hours with a minimum of:

  • 10 hours individual supervision
  • 60 hours peer group supervision
  • 200 hours clinical placement
  • 60 hours personal written reflection

Part time extended units require

  • one day group seminars per week
  • approximately 8 hours per week ministry (days and times negotiable)
  • orientation, mid-term and final evaluation weeks require two days

Qualification Recognition

Successful completion of a unit of CPE is recognized as one subject in a Bachelor of Theology or Diploma of Pastoral Care, through the University of Divinity

Centre Supervisors

David Glenister, MA (Theol), BA (fine arts), Clinical Pastoral Supervisor, Director of Royal Melbourne Centre for CPE

Ms Helen Squire: Clinical Pastoral Supervisor.

Credit for University of Divinity (UD) Awards

From January 2015, credit for CPE in any UD award will only be granted if the candidate has enrolled in the relevant Unit: DP8273S CPE Level 1, or DP9273S or CPE Level 2.

Enrolment in these units is dependent on completing the UD prerequisites and a letter of offer from a CPE Centre.

Clarification of these requirements can be made through the course coordinator of the college in which you are enrolled or through contacting the University of Divinity's Clinical Pastoral Education enrollments officer.

Enquiries and completed applications should be submitted to the Centre for Clinical Pastoral Education.


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