History & philosophy of Clinical Pastoral Education

Advocate Health Care is related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ. Created by the influence of two long-standing, faith-based health care systems in 1995, Advocate has become one of metropolitan Chicago's largest health care systems. Advocate Health Care includes Advocate Christ Medical Center, Advocate Condell Medical Center, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Advocate Sherman Hospital, Advocate South Suburban Hospital and Advocate Trinity Hospital. The Oak Brook based system also provides home health, hospice and mental health counseling services and operates outpatient and ambulatory centers.

The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs within Advocate Health Care are rooted in a vision of pastoral care that arises from an understanding of human beings as whole persons within relationships to God, themselves, their families and the society in which they live.

Advocate Health Care Clinical Pastoral Education is grounded in a person-centered approach to pastoral care. The programs are designed to encourage personal growth in a professional ministry. Students have the opportunity to develop their resources for theological integration, pastoral reflection, pastoral formation and pastoral competence.

Educational method

Clinical Pastoral Education is an intensive experiential method of theological education which examines pastoral care in acute and extended care facilities. Students begin by contracting with supervisors for learning based on their individual goals. Individual supervision, small group discussion, and interdisciplinary dialogue are major program resources. These resources assist students to deepen their appreciation of the human predicament and to recognize the resources for ministry that reside in their unique life histories, spiritual pilgrimages, and ministry experience. The emphasis is on converting experience into learning.

The peer learning group contributes both to enriched reflection upon pastoral experience and to that quality of community which supports professional growth. In turn, this enriched reflection leads to the integration of person, pastoral role, belief and knowledge.

CPE calls upon students to be with people in times of crisis and loss. They learn to assess the needs and resources people have for wholeness and well-being and to encourage healing and wholeness in themselves and those for whom they care.