First Impressions

I started my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) group last week.  I’m doing this as I missed the opportunity to participate in CPE back in seminary, and most hospices and all hospitals that I know of require at least 1 unit of CPE in order to become a chaplain.  Plus, it gets you on the track to becoming board certified.

The group, I’ve been told, is the key to the whole experience.  If that’s the case, then this will be interesting.  I’m in a group with 4 other men, 2 of whom are finishing seminary and 2 who have been in ministry for some time.  The older gentlemen have also done CPE before, so they take everything as old hat while the rest of us kind of observe from the fringes at times.

I can’t say right now that things have gone as expected.  My orientation the week before had nothing to do with CPE and everything to do with the VA where the program is run from.  The fact that I”m not doing my CPE hours at the VA is inconsequential apparently.  So at least I only wasted 1/2 a day.  But last week I expected us to come together more as a group and find out more about each other.  We did very little of that and a lot of listening to the supervisor talk about seeming random things, with bits of discussion thrown in here and there.  However I am already learning a bit about myself.  Why did I have such expectations in the first place, for example?  Oh – and my supervisor swears a lot, which makes me want to swear just to fit in or impress him.

I am also reconnecting a lot with my psychology background, which has been left in the dust practically since grad school.  So that’s fun.  I felt at times like this was going to be a cakewalk, given that I know so much about the subject.  But this is more of an intellectual knowing, and I still have yet to confront the “radical honesty” and “radical trust” that CPE requires.

Next class is tomorrow!


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