Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) began in New England about 75 years ago in response to a need for persons of faith to learn how to practice effective pastoral care and to integrate their own spiritual history into that process. At that time, CPE was primarily for ordained clergy and seminary students. However, that has now been expanded to clergy, lay people, and persons seeking to explore the spiritual and professional dimensions of the practice of their professions.

In 1967, four separate organizations joined together to form The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. Since that time, students of all denominations and faith commitments have been encouraged to bring their faith and spiritual understandings to people who are going through critical experiences in life in order that they may recognize and use their faith to support, encourage, and enhance healing.

All programs at Maine Medical Center are fully accredited by The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.(ACPE). The ACPE is nationally recognized as an accrediting agency in the field by the U.S. Secretary of Education through the U.S. Department of Education.

ACPE Contact Information

ACPE – Association for Clinical Pastoral Education
One West Court Square Suite 325
Decatur, GA 30030
Phone: (404) 320-1472
Fax: (404) 320-0849

Extended CPE Program

Fall (September-January) and Spring (March – July) sessions for Level I and Level II CPE programs focus on pastoral identity, understanding spiritual care, pastoral theology, the nature of religion/spirituality as a resource for human health and growth, and the meaning of illness and health.

The CPE Unit involves assignments to patient units, interpersonal group interaction, written impressions, verbatim reports, personal supervisory conferences, didactic lectures, worship leadership, and personal and program evaluation.

Consequent CPE units can allow for specialization in a particular area of spiritual care in the health care setting within the program requirements as above. Encouragement is given to a more profound understanding of the setting and process of CPE. Each session is 20 weeks and students will need to commit to 20 hours per week.

In order to fulfill these responsibilities, students spend approximately 60% of their time in contact with patients and 40% in seminars, didactics, and supervision. Ministry to patients is paramount in their work. Other learning occurs through experiences shared in working with peers and hospital staff. The supervisor directs, guides, reviews, and evaluates all of these experiences with students.

Admission Requirements

CPE is open to seminary students, clergy, religious practitioners and lay people. Credit for successful completion can be used for academic, denominational, or certification purposes. It can also be an opportunity to prepare for ministry or discerning spiritual dimensions of practice in a related field.


Application should be submitted on the standard ACPE application form with the required accompanying material to:

Director, Spiritual Care

The Rev. Catherine F Garlid
Phone: (207) 662-2951
Fax: (207) 662-6212

Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, ME 04102