Beyond Certification: Looking At the Future of Chaplaincy

From time to time I’ve been asked “so how do I become a Chaplain?”. While I usually answer with a laundry list of things to do to prepare, train and ultimately become certified, the real answer is – it depends. It depends not only on what you do to prepare to be a chaplain but also on what employers expect from a Chaplain. And sometimes these two areas are quite different from each other.

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Chaplain Certification: APC vs CPSP vs … SCA??

perhaps we need to drag the shirt out again

So I’ve written several times on the topic of board certification for Chaplains, especially regarding APC/BCCI and CPSP. Those weren’t the only players on the certification game, though. There are certification programs through the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and Association of Jewish Chaplains for example, as well as a smattering of other groups and agencies. Some have been around for a while and are well recognized, while others you will probably never hear of unless you look for them. The newest group to organize and enter the board certification mix has caused controversy though. Continue reading

Why Certification Makes a Difference for Chaplains

The question of the necessity of certification is common today among chaplains, especially those who are already working as a chaplain in the field. During my CPE experience all of us were encouraged to go on to be certified. It was the “gold standard” and would put you ahead of someone who isn’t certified. After completing my four units and having all of the paperwork I needed mostly done (verbatims, theology papers, biography) I didn’t bother getting certified for several years. It just didn’t seem necessary. Continue reading

My Own Chaplain Certification Process

I haven’t been updating this nearly as much as I would’ve liked. One reason for that has been my own process of becoming a Board Certified Counselor through CPSP has taken many twists and turns.  Continue reading

10 (+1) Tips For a Good CPE Verbatim

I’ve posted a few of my past verbatims as examples of how they can be written, but  each CPE program likely has its own format, things to include and so on. So please don’t use my examples as the standard for how they should be written in every case, as your supervisor likely has a particular format he or she wants to use. Many supervisors don’t even recommend a particular format, only elements that need to be included. Each member of my CPE group wrote differently, and we all tended to borrow from each others’ styles to find something that we all liked (including our supervisor!).

I thought it would be helpful to give what I think are some helpful hints and things to remember when writing any verbatim. Formats are pretty unique, but every good verbatim has some common elements. Continue reading

Chaplain certification: APC vs CPSP vs … both?

I wrote previously about how I had decided to choose certification through CPSP rather than APC/BCCI and gave a run down of the positives and negatives of both sides. However it occurred to me that I was looking at this decision as an either/or, where in actuality I think I can look at it as a both/and.

Both bodies, while they are typically seen as competing, actually complement each other very well. APC though it is more highly recognized lacks the strong local network of CPSP. Therefore it makes sense to join CPSP while at the same time pursuing APC accreditation.

Yes it is more work and more expense, however I think it will be worth it. Plus CPSP requires members to be productive so I’m still going to be writing verbatims, which can be applied toward my APC membership materials.

Sounds like a win-win to me!

I have my first CPSP meeting tomorrow and plan on posting a new verbatim up soon. Thanks everyone for reading!


After talking with folks on the CPSP side it seems that getting accreditation through both programs would be difficult given that ACPE and CPSP don’t seem to get along. From my vantage point it’s not as much an issue on the CPSP side, but rather from ACPE. So that puts a damper on things.

Plus after spending my money and time for CPSP certification, I’m not that eager to jump through ACPE’s hoops!

Chaplain certification: APC vs CPSP vs … nothing?

***update: if you like this then read this article as well: APC vs CPSP vs … both?***

***update #2: here’s my thoughts on the benefits of certification after I completed my own: Why Certification Makes a Difference for Chaplains***

***update #3: why the formation of the Spiritual Care Association (SCA) is a good thing***

This is probably one of the most polarizing topics concerning professional chaplaincy – at least from what I’ve heard – but it’s a good one to consider if you’re considering a career as a Chaplain. I’m going to give  a quick run-down of the options, the benefits and drawbacks of each, and let you know what I’m doing. Bear in mind that these opinions are just based on my own limited experience and aren’t intended to be an exhaustive, investigative comparison. I couldn’t recommend any stronger that you need to do your own homework and research. Read on and I’ll give my impressions on the two major certifying bodies as well as the “what, me certified?” route.

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Choosing a career in Chaplaincy: 8 steps to take

On one hand, planning for a career as a Chaplain is easy – get board certified and get a job. Well it is that easy, sort of (if you consider about two extra years of career training easy), but getting to the place of “I want to be a Chaplain” is much harder.

Personally, I did not plan on becoming a Chaplain. I had a background in undergraduate and graduate level psychology from a religious college, had interned and worked in heath care settings after that, and while in seminary developed a passion for pastoral care. However Chaplaincy was never in the picture. Now I see that my path led me right to this career. Continue reading

Chaplain certification and other nightmares

Before I completed my last unit of CPE several years ago I was encouraged to go for my certification through the APC. It’s the “gold standard”, the “union card”, the key to get you in the door of any Chaplain job in the country.

Only I didn’t go for it.

I have plenty of excuses now looking back. I already had a job that didn’t require certification and they didn’t really care if I was. I was the Director of Spiritual Services already and none of the chaplains I supervised had their certification either, so I didn’t feel that pressure. As Director, I was also really really busy and didn’t feel like investing any more time then toward putting all the papers together and so on. I also felt really secure in my position and didn’t feel like certification would really help me where I was. Plus, I also got the feeling that although my job had supported me through part of my CPE, they were done with giving me time and financial support to pursue certification.

Then I got let go. Continue reading