Education FAQs

What is Supervised Pastoral Education (SPE)?

Supervised Pastoral Education began almost a hundred years ago in the United States as a form of theological education that combines academics and hands-on training in clinical settings where spiritual care is practiced. This training provides participants with opportunities to develop the arts and skills required for providing competent pastoral and/or spiritual care. Class size is small and supervision is provided by a CASC/ACSS-Certified Supervisor-Educator.

SPE training is based on an adult education learning model that focuses on the needs of the learners and engages them in an experiential and reflective process of action – reflection – new action. The overarching goal of the training is to equip individuals both internally (through development of self-awareness, professional identity, and the safe and effective use of self) and externally (through of therapeutic skills and competencies for providing pastoral/spiritual care). In addition to the face-to-face experience of providing supervised spiritual/pastoral care, the training includes didactic lectures, seminars, case studies, small-group work, directed readings, role plays, clinical skills integration exercises, reflection reports, and regular self-assessments and assessments by the Supervisor-Educator.

SPE is offered in two streams: Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and Pastoral Counselling Education (PCE).

What is CPE?

Units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) offer 200 hours of supervised practice within a variety of settings (health care, prisons, congregations) for individuals, their families, and friends who are experiencing various levels of crisis or spiritual distress. The remaining 200 hours include: peer and group supervision, case study presentations, individual supervision, and other structured learning activities (seminars, didactics, role plays, skill integration exercises). Written assignments help participants integrate foundational theories (psychological, sociological, theological/religious, and spiritual) and grow in their competencies related to the facilitation of healing, the safe and effective use of self, the building of collegial and inter-professional relationships, the development of professional responsibilities, and the assimilation of recent and relevant research.

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What is PCE?

Units of Pastoral Counselling Education (PCE) prepare student-interns to be Psycho-Spiritual Therapists in a variety of faith-based and secular settings, including parish ministry, counselling agencies, social service agencies, hospices, elder-care facilities and private practice. Essentially, psycho-spiritual therapy or what is sometimes referred to as pastoral psychotherapy, is a faith-based approach to professional counselling which incorporates a range of evidence-based therapeutic modalities, in conjunction with pastoral and spiritual care. It is a form of holistic psychotherapy which addresses a need for a sensitive and skilled relational approach, which is also highly respectful of the religious faith traditions and spiritual practices of clients.

Psycho-Spiritual Therapists undertake an intensive journey of training in the healing art, specializing in individual, couple, and family therapy, with a capacity to understand and relate theologically to clients who wish to integrate faith and spirituality into their treatment goals.

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Who should take SPE?

SPE is beneficial for anyone interested in spiritual care, for those who wish to pursue a career in the field, and/or for those who wish to establish a private counselling practice. This includes:

  • Volunteers who wish to provide competent emotional, spiritual, and religious support
  • Anyone interested in a transformative experience that promotes excellence in providing care for those experiencing spiritual distress
  • Individuals interested in a career in institutional settings (hospitals, prisons, military) or in a private counselling practice
  • Individuals interested in becoming certified as a Spiritual Care Practitioner (CPE) or a Psycho-Spiritual Therapist (PCE)
  • Seminarians who are pursuing careers in ministry
  • Clergy who wish to expand their competencies in providing spiritual/pastoral care
Where can I complete my supervised clinical training?

Supervised placements give students opportunities to practice and learn while providing care in a variety of settings that could include:

  • Hospitals
  • Hospices
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Prisons
  • Houses of worship
  • Extended care facilities
  • Psychiatric wards
  • Military bases
  • Social service centers
  • Counselling agencies
What credentials does CASC/ACSS offer?

CASC/ACSS offers three forms of certification: Certified Spiritual Care Practitioner, Certified Psycho-Spiritual Therapist; and Certified Supervisor-Educator. In most cases, those wishing to apply for certification have completed a minimum of four units of SPE, a master’s degree that includes certain prerequisite courses, and professional papers that demonstrate the competencies for spiritual care and counselling.

For more information, please contact:

What are competencies of CASC/ACSS Certified Professionals? I've heard about SPE and want to apply for a unit. How do I begin?

The first step is to locate SPE units in the province/city you would like to study by visiting our Education Centres page. Further information regarding admission requirements and application deadlines can be found here as they vary from unit to unit.

How long does one unit run? What is the difference between an extended & an intensive unit?

There are two types of SPE units: Intensive and Extended. Both provide 400 hours of supervised clinical training (200 hours teaching, 200 hours clinical).

  • Intensive Units run five days per week for twelve weeks. Please see desired Education Centres for current dates.
  • Extended Units run two days per week for eight months. Please see desired Education Centres for current dates.

*NOTE: PCE units are only offered as Extended.

What is a residency?

A nine-to twelve-month full-time program which offers three back-to-back units of full-time CPE. You must already have completed one unit of CPE, and have the required graduate level courses to be accepted into the residency.

What is the cost of CPE and how long it will take to complete CPE?

Tuition costs vary across the country. Please visit our Education Centres page.

Where can I find information on taking SPE in Canada as an international student?

The first step is to consider which province/city you would like to study SPE. As SPE units are affiliated with Post-Secondary Institutions, you will need to be admitted to the university as an international student before applying for SPE.

Please visit our Education Centres page.