The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.
We regret this denigration of COMISS. Stapleford's views will undoubtedly carry weight, especially since he is in the inner circle of leadership of the ACPE. COMISS is the only existing forum where all interested parties in the clinical pastoral field can be heard, and we believe COMISS should be strengthened, not subverted.
For the record, Stapleford repeats two already discredited claims. He claims that Lerrill White, in announcing that ACPE is the only accrediting organization authorized to receive Medicare pass-through funds, speaks only for himself, and not the ACPE. White's misinformation was in fact published in the ACPE News in June 2003. The same false claim was earlier published in the ACPE News by then ACPE President, William Baugh.
Stapleford also repeats the false information that eligibility for Medicare pass-through funds now depends on recognition of the U.S. Department of Education. That is not the case, nor has it ever been the case in the past.
Misinformation of this sort is a continuing tradition in the ACPE. The purpose seems to be to position itself as the only legitimate player in the clinical pastoral training field.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 5:57 PM
Letter to the Editor of the Pastoral Report:
I'm glad you spoke up about SBTS's new found unappreciation of what
the human sciences can bring to bear upon the pastoral enterprise.
Perhaps my next manuscript will need to be titled, "Whatever Happened
to Wayne Oates?" For about 25 years the Rev. Dr. Oates lived out his
role as pastor to hundreds of grateful students at Southern Baptist.
He nurtured them, toward their becoming more insightful about
themselves, those to whom they ministered, and the multilayered
relationship between pastor and flock. For another 25 years he carried
out the same task down the road from SBTS at the medical school. His
first major book, of many, is a classic I still recommend: "The
Significance of the Work of Sigmund Freud for the Christian Faith".
Dr. Oakes knew his Bible inside and out. He knew equally well the
writings of Freud and of any other author whose insights could help in
his teaching and pastoral ministry. Perhaps one useful gesture could
be for CPSP to provide a copy of Dr. Oates' first book to any of the
SBTS biblical counseling students who wish to augment their studies.
Robert C. Powell, MD, PhD
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 7:25 AM
If you have not yet registered for a room for the April 6-9 Gathering of the Community in Columbus, do so at this time!
Here is the problem. In addition to some smaller conventions at that time, two major events are scheduled concurrent with CPSP. The first is national Equistrian convention bringing people from all over. Most of them are already booked, taking up a lot of rooms. The second is the NCAA Final Four in Hockey ("The Frozen Four") at Ohio State. Many of their rooms are booked but the minute the selection is made for the final four universities we expect alumni and students of those universities to grab any rooms they can.
So, register NOW. We have an overflow contract with the Airport Holiday Inn (614-475-7551). There are currently nine rooms left in this block. Tell them you are with CPSP and the rate is $89. If they are filled when you register, contact Jim Gebhart immediately (614-451-8132) and we shall contract another block of rooms--as long as they are available.
Hope you understand our predicament.
Oh, and we will definitely provide shuttle service from the Airport Holiday Inn to the convention center downtown. A ten minute ride and no charge for parking.
Get back to me if you have any questions. email@example.com.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 7:15 AM
Many who provide clinical pastoral training programs are often discouraged by their awareness that seminary graduates applying to their CPE programs do not have an awareness of and appreciation for the social sciences as a valuable resource to integrate into their clinical practice of ministry. The Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY has moved to further compound the problem and to add its support to trainees who resist the employment of the social sciences as a necessary component of their being a clinically trained clergy. The Southern Baptist Seminary has now dumped the inclusion of the social sciences in their pastoral care and counseling curriculum. In its place will be a curriculum "... built upon the sufficiency of Scripture and designed to train pastors to deal biblically with the needs of hurting people...a wholesale change of emphasis built upon the view that Scripture is sufficient to answer comprehensively the deepest needs of the human heart..."
Biblical counseling and biblical pastoral care that excludes the social sciences has been around for a long time. Many of us as psychotherapists and/or clinical supervisors offering CPE programs have had to pick up the pieces of people's lives who have been counseled or supervised by such a limited model. We know how foolish and even dangerous this new movement is to the lives of people.
In recent times there have been major law suits won by those who charged pastors and churches with malpractice because they provided biblically-based counseling and failed to get the person, who eventually committed suicide, the help they needed. This is an easy error to make if one does not have a clinically-based knowledge of the social sciences informed by quality supervision with someone who has integrated the social sciences with their clinical practice.
CPE programs, for the above same reason having to do not only with quality of care but also with liability, must insure they do not compromise their commitment and expectation that their trainees integrate the social sciences in their training process. Failure to do so creates a potentially risky and even dangerous situation not only for the patients, families, and staff but for the institution and those responsible for the training program. I don't think any CPE program would want to run the risk of having a trainee functioning in their assigned clinical area using a biblically-based model of counseling and pastoral care.
It is a time for those who care about the clinical pastoral movement to raise our voice in protest against this growing phenomenon. The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy along with our colleagues in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, the Association of Professional Chaplains and COMISS should join together in a major effort to educate the public about this dangerous development while advancing the understanding and value of of a parish pastor, chaplain, counselor, psychotherapist to be clinically trained as one who has integrated the social sciences with their practice of ministry. If we don’t do it, who will? No one!
The silly turf battles between the major certifying and accrediting pastoral organizations pales in the face of this growing threat so well defined by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's move to biblically-based counseling and pastoral care curriculum.
It's time for all of us who care about the clinical pastoral movement to re-claim our heritage. We must again be clear within ourselves and with one another about what it means to provide clinical training programs that embrace the social sciences requiring its integration into the trainee's person, theory, theology and clinical practice of ministry. -Perry Miller, Editor
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 2:02 PM
The PR was informed that a few of the links on the recent post about CPSP Bloggers did not work. Sorry. I think I've got them all up and running at this writing. -Perry Miller, Editor
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 11:34 PM
CPSP is a happening community. We have bloggers!
A "blog" is shorthand for a "weblog". "Bloggers" are those who publish on their "blogs". "Blogging" is what they do.
There is no need to mention the names of CPSP blogger. They will be known by their blog.
Interested in weblogging? Take a look at Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) and LiveJournal (http://www.sixapart.com/livejournal/). If you can follow a recipe to cook a fried egg, then you are fully prepared to create your own blog with either of these two blog resources. If you wish for more eloquence, however, takeTypePad (http://www.typepad.com) up on their free 30 day free trial.
Bloggers love to hear from you, especially if you use their interactive "comment" feature found on their blogs. This is located at the end of each blog post. –Perry Miller, Editor
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:41 PM
The Rev./Dr. James Stapleford, Past President of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education writes the following comments in response to Raymond Lawrence's article A MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY (http://www.pastoralreport.com/archives/000376.shtml#more) posted on the Pastoral Report February 8, 2005
Dr. Stapleford writes:
I read with interest the article written by Raymond Lawrence about COMISS being driven out of business by ACPE. It is interesting to me that Raymond picks on ACPE when my experience is that it is the Association of Professional Chaplains that was the driving force for not only this project, but the White Paper on Pastoral Care.
I was a strong supporter of COMISS in the early days of the organization and had high hopes that this would be the one uniting group for all of the Pastoral Care Groups and endorsing agents. My experience over the years is that it has not been. There is conflict between the endorsing agencies and many of our professional groups around ordination, gender and sexual preference. I have come to the conclusion that at best COMISS is a once a year meeting for the persons to visit with each other, but I don't expect that anything will really come out of COMISS that will be earth shattering nor move the professional organizations closer together.
It may be of interest to you to know that only the Board of Representatives can speak for the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. Mr. White, while being a ACPE Supervisor does not speak for the Association. As a former president of ACPE I don't believe that the Board ever gave Mr. White the right to speak for ACPE, nor do I find any "exclusive" claims from the Association as being the only organization that can claim the pass-through. I do know that we were told that unless you are approved by the Department of Education, you are not eligible for the pass through. Now there are more rules and regs that limit the conditions of the pass through even more.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 12:06 AM
Please be advised that the provided room reservation number in a previous post was incorrect. To make a reservation call 614-237-6360. Please inform the hotel that you are with CPSP, group code CP5.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:23 PM
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:07 PM
To all registrants to the CPSP Gathering at Columbus on April 6-9.
We need your immediate attention. In planning the Columbus meeting we reserved the same number of rooms utilized in previous years at Virginia Beach. We are now beginning to worry if there will be enough. We are having more early registrants than usual, and also many persons desiring an individual room (no roommate) than we anticipated. In addition, there are several conventions and events in Columbus on these days so that immediate "overflow backup" is very limited.
There are currently around half of he rooms left to be reserved at the Hampton. Will you please do the following:
*** Make your room reservation immediately so we will know who is coming. And note that hotel deadline for conference rates is March 6.
***Consider accepting a roommate so as to free up rooms.
***If you have already reserved an individual room (no roommate) could you reconsider and contact someone to room with you. Then call the Hampton and ask for this change.
To make a reservation call 614-237-6360. Say you are with CPSP, group code CP5. -Jim Geghart
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:37 PM
It's that time again! The Spring 2005 National Clinical Training Seminar will be held March 3-4, 2005 (Thursday and Friday). The venue will be at Carmel Retreat, Mahwah, NJ. Registration time is between 10.00 a.m. and 10.30 a.m.
This event is open to supervisory and psychotherapy trainees and pastoral counselors. Clinical Supervisors and Pastoral Counselor Conveners are urged to inform and encourage your supervisory/ psychotherapy candidates and pastoral counselors to attend.
Every participant is expected to bring clinical material either in video or written form for presentation. Participants will be assigned a time slot in a peer group. All participants are encouraged to participate fully until the end of the two-day event. Early departures tend to adversely impact the group experience.
The Rev. Dr. Perry Miller will offer a workshop on the Theory vs Practice. This workshop is intended for supervisory trainees of Clinical Pastoral Education, however, it can be of interest to pastoral counselors and psychotherapist trainees as well.
The Rev. Dr. Miller is the editor for the Pastoral Report. He is one of the founding members of CPSP. Dr. Miller is a Pastoral Psychotherapist with a private practice. He is presently running a CPE program at Wake Medical Center in North Carolina and he is the Convener of the Chapel Hill Chapter.
(You may visit the website at: carmelretreat.com) Contact:
Francine Angel, Coordinator
Tel. No. (212-305-5817)
Fax No. (212-305-5666)
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:58 PM
A movement is underway to subvert the COMISS Network. It requires your attention.
COMISS has for more than a decade been the effective roundtable for the diverse clinical pastoral organizations, along with the many religious endorsing body representatives.
The motivation for subverting COMISS is the wish by the largest groups in the field, principally the ACPE, to create a monopoly for themselves. The desire for a monopoly in the field has increased as CPSP has flourished, and especially since the CPSP is the only competition ACPE has.
The monopolistic dreams of the ACPE converged with the dreams of Walter Smith, CEO of the Health Care Chaplaincy, Inc (HCCI) of New York City. Smith's morally tainted institution has felt the competition of CPSP, which has threatened Smith's inflated ambition of owning the entire New York landscape in the field of health care chaplaincy.
Thus Smith presented $100,000 in matching funds to ACPE and its collaborators for the purpose of creating a subgroup that would declare a monopoly in the field. That subgroup was headed by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).
Smith's $100,000 subgroup venture produced the Council on Collaboration, which in turn drew up what it calls "Common Standards" for clinical pastoral training and clinical chaplaincy. The Common Standards are unremarkable. They contain no elements that CPSP does not already subscribe to, except for one: the listing of the only legitimate organizations in the field.
As anyone could have guessed in advance, the five listed legitimate organizations are the five that were invited to the table by Walter Smith and his lieutenant, George Handzo, to participate in the Council on Collaboration. Smith invited no one to collaborate except those he selected. John deVelder, representing CPSP, actually asked to participate in the early discussions of the Council on Collaboration, but was denied a seat at the table. The Religious Endorsing Bodies representatives that make up a large part of COMISS were not invited either.
The Council on Collaboration and its Common Standards are no more than a device to monopolize the clinical pastoral field, with the ACPE as the principal beneficiary, and the HCCI as a principal beneficiary in the New York area.
We will fight this self-aggrandizing move with all our resources. We will expose it for what it is at every opportunity. We will fight it for three reasons. First, its success would put us out of business. Second, its success would render COMISS obsolete. Third, its success would make it virtually impossible for any new organizations to emerge in the future. Any healthy movement is in a state of continuing reformation. We must oppose any efforts to smother in the cradle new and innovative communities that may wish to emerge in the future.
I call on you to be vigilant in reporting all attempts to proclaim the monopoly of the ACPE, and that you relay to me or Richard Liew, President, any attempts to promote this predatory movement.
We will discuss this matter in greater detail at the April Plenary in Columbus, Ohio.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:17 PM
We have received permission from the Joint Commission on Accreditation
of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) to distribute the document,
"Evaluating your Spiritual Assessment Process", which was orginally
published in the JCAHO's journal The Source. This is a very important
document because it defines the parameters of spiritual assessment for
healthcare institutions. I encourage you to study this document and
where appropriate enter into dialogue with us about the substance of the
Our special thanks to George Hull, CPSP representative to the JCAHO, who
acquired the permission to circulate this document on our web site.
-Raymond J. Lawrence
Document: "Evaluating your Spiritual Assessment Process"-Download file
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:16 PM
The 2005 CPSP Plenary will meet in Columbus, Ohio April 6-9, 2005 at the Hampton Inn and Hyatt Regency.
Posted below as a PDF document is a web-based copy of the Plenary brochure. It contains all needed information related to the Plenary, including hotel information as well as the agenda for the meeting.
Make your plans now to gather in Ohio as we celebrate our continued success and growth as a vibrant and dynamic community dedicated to the "Recovery of Soul" in the clinical pastoral movement. -Perry Miller, Editor
CPSP PLENARY BROCHURE: Download file
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:59 AM
The annual Anton T. Boisen Award was presented in 2004 to Myron Madden at the annual meeting of COMISS in Alexandria, Virginia, December 5. The following text is Myron's response on receipt of the award.
My Journey in Clinical Training by Myron C. Madden, PhD
It was in June of ’45 that Dr. Wayne Oates took a handful of his graduate students from the Baptist Seminary in Louisville to a state mental hospital in Danville, Kentucky to do twelve weeks of clinical training. I was home from the big WWII experience and had the tough experience of the Battle of the Bulge. But I was as frightened of the mental hospital as I had been of the battle field. At that point I wasn’t sure that mental illness wasn’t contagious.
At the end of this unit of training, the hospital C.E.O. asked me to accept the job of being the chaplain of the hospital. I was able to work out an agreement with Wayne Oates to do an extended program to complete my graduate work at the seminary. This required a commute twice weekly to Louisville, ninety miles distant. After the graduate degree three years later, there was no job! Baptists at that time were not aware of their need for clinically trained clergy.
Finally, some seven years later, the church I served as pastor had a member who was head of Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, Raymond Wilson. At that time Mr. Wilson was interested in developing a clinical training program and he asked me to take on the position. It was there that I joined in helping Baptists develop respectable programs in clinical training. During the early ‘60s there were four national certifying bodies. Besides Southern Baptists there was the Council for Clinical Training, the Institute for Pastoral Care, and the Lutherans had their own program. In the mid ‘60s these four training and certifying bodies merged into one – the ACPE or the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
As I best recall COMISS came into being as a need for one voice to help unite the Babel of many tongues. However, I had no part in the development of COMISS.
I would like now to share what I have learned in my work of more than forty years as a learner and a teacher in CPE. I now am fully retired, but have a rather unusual place in the larger process. That is, I serve as chaplain to the C.P.S.P. (the College of Pastoral Supervisors and Psychotherapists). I consider it as one of the greatest honors of my life to be chaplain to such a wonderful organization.
Some of Life’s Learnings
Edward Jones, a Pulitzer-prize wining novelist, said, “You never get over having been a child.” Soren Kierkegaard said, “Every unhappy individual can be traced back to some false impression received in childhood.”
All this is to say that clinical training did not shut out the past to give me a new beginning. Rather it gives me the tools to explore my own history in a more realistic way. For example, it helped me understand what Jesus meant by “call no man your father upon the earth.” This is His call to look at our parents as peers, to see them as truly human, not super-human as they seemed to us as children.
I had a friend a few years ago who was eager to share an experience related to this. He told of going to a restaurant in their home town. As they sat waiting to be served, my friend said he sat back and studied his parents carefully. He was himself past fifty years of age. But in looking at them it suddenly dawned on him that these were two old, old people. What he most wanted to share was his reactions. He said, “I suddenly hated them for being old, and for the awareness they would soon die.” He hated them for being mortal. In his disgust, he wanted to walk out and leave them to eat without him.
C.P.E. is a process of helping us see our parents as mortal and human. We have to accept it for them before we can accept it for ourselves. When we cannot accept it for ourselves, we cannot live into our true adulthood. C.P.E. is only a beginning of the process of opening the book of childhood.
C.P.E. taught me that every child lives in a blissful state in the pre-school years. I do not remember my own as well as old Thomas Traherne. He spoke of it this way:
All appeared new, and strange at first, impressibly rare and delightful and beautiful… The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold. The gates were at first the end of the world. The green trees when I saw them first through one of the gates transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things. The men! O what venerable and reverend creatures did the aged seem! Immortal cherubims! And young men glittering, sparkling angels, and maids strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty! Boys & girls tumbling in the street, and playing, were moving jewels. I knew not that they were born or should die… the city seemed to stand in Eden…
I will add that Tolstoy once said, “From my first to my fifth year was an eternity. From my fifth year to the present (70) is but a small step.”
Not only does every child have a garden, but every garden has a snake. In fact it is a garden of miracles where snakes talk and horses fly. It is a time before time, a time without limit and space without decay. C.PE. becomes an experience of allowing our garden to melt down to ordinary time and space. The shelves in my aunt’s store ceased to be self-replenishing. It was quite a jolt for me at six to learn she had to buy all that stuff she had for sale. When I learned that, I gave up wanting to be a merchant.
C.P.E. has made me face the real world in ways I have been reluctant to do. The real world says, “Pay your debts.” At first I delayed and hoped my banker would either write it off or delay his demand for the principal.
Then we humans are prone to make vows when we are young. Vows about what we will or will not do related to emotional pain, poverty, hurt or stress. A vow made becomes an emotional debt either until we pay up or otherwise deal with it. A good example here is a vow about what we will do for one or both parents when we grow up. For example, we know what makes them happy, such as a new dress. Time passes and we put our money elsewhere, and put off getting that new dress. But guilt builds up because of the delay in giving the dress and fulfilling the vow.
Unfulfilled vows can become very troublesome when a parent or a beloved family member dies without getting the gift promised in the vow. We often take too seriously the childhood vow. In good ministry we can help people get released from such vows. After all, the parent did not extract the vow, neither did God seal it. One can be released from a binding vow by having a person make a claim for such release in your presence.
C.P.E. taught me the meaning of the priesthood of believers. I will give a case. A lady sought me out in counseling to tell a story of an unacceptable sex act. The next session she came saying she had never shared her secret except to God. She said, “I confessed that thing to God a thousand times and it came right back on me as strong as ever. Last week I told it to you and now the guilt is gone. What is the difference in confessing it to God and confessing it to you?“ I responded that in telling it to God, she took no risk. In telling it to me she couldn’t be sure I could listen without going screaming out in the hall or shouting it from the house top for help. But she could hear me when I brought her God’s word of forgiveness and grace. After confessing to God, she never hears God speak a word. If God has spoken, she might have been left wondering about her mental health. Isn’t that what goes with hearing voices?
Go back to Kierkegaard, he spoke of the damage done. To a child who gets a false impression in one way or another, such things are usually related to a false impression spoken by a person of authority, such as a parent, uncle, aunt, or older sibling. If they choose, they can fill a young child’s world with gnomes, witches, sprites and goblins. The child may be left believing that a monstrous spirit will do what the older person promises.
Alfred Adler said most every person comes from the early years with a psychological scar that is as debilitating as a defective organ. Again Tolstoy said his first five years were an eternity, while the remainder of his life (speaking at 70) was only a small step.
Sigmund Freud perhaps dealt with the first five years with more understanding than any scholar of the 20th century. In his self-analysis, done at age forty, he was able to open the book of childhood as no other person ever was able to do.
Remember that Thomas Traherne spoke of how he was ravished by the beauty of things in his “garden.” We add to that the wonder of the created world. It is like Job said, “Things too wonderful for me.” Then Irwin Yalom speaks of the “terrors of the universe.” Add all this up and know that the five or six year old child must build defenses against both the wonder and the terror of existence. I suppose some of you remember how you felt in seeing the pictures delivered from the Hubble Space telescope. They took me back to the edge of my childhood feelings of terror in trying to contemplate infinity for the first time. It made me too dizzy to stand up.
All this means that in early childhood we can’t keep on looking at existence as Thomas Traherne first saw it and described it. We are forced to re-shape it all and cut it down to bearable portions. Otherwise the glory of it would destroy us.
Have you ever thought that the “second coming” may be the event that takes us back where we were in the first place? Where we were as infants. We will just leave it there, I certainly can’t take it any further: only to declare that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
We adults have for the most part forgotten our childhood experiences. We need to remember that while they are forgotten, they are not blotted out. They linger only to be awakened at odd times and exceptional occasions. But I remind you, “You never get over having been a child.”
Another thing I learned in C.P.E. has to do with confession and forgiveness. I learned that I am not forgiven in simply telling it to God. I must select my brother or sister to tell it to, so they can show me I am forgiven and accepted by how they deal with me as a sinner. We don’t so much confess things to God, as we repent before God and confess to our “priest at the elbow” as Carlyle Marney called it. I have lived to witness this process bring sanity to the insane and wholeness to the broken in spirit. I say that when people are truly heard, they are truly blessed.
My own life has been blessed in being a part of the clinical training movement. While I am no longer active in CPE, I do have what I value as a vital connection in being the chaplain of the College of Pastoral Supervisors and Psychotherapists (or the CPSP). They keep me in a feeling of continuing kinship with Anton Boisen whom you all know is the father of the clinical training movement.
As I understand Boisen, his was an intent to bring blessedness into the lives of all people, especially to the sick and marginalized.
As I understand COMISS, you are faithful to our beginnings, holding us all to the central issue, of bringing blessedness to all people.
I would like to close with a prayer of Soren Kierkegaard that reminds us how to stay on track.
To Will One Thing Father in Heaven! What is a man without Thee! What is all that he knows, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know Thee! What is all his striving, could it ever encompass a world, but a half-finished work if he does not know Thee: Thee the one, who art one thing and who art all! So may thou give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing. In prosperity may Thou grant perseverance to will one thing; amid distractions, collectedness to will one thing; in suffering, patience to will one thing. Oh, Thou that givest both the beginning and the completion. May Thou, at the dawn of day, give to the young man the resolution to will one thing and as the day wanes, may Thou give to the old man a renewed remembrance of his first resolution. That the first may be like the last, the last like the first… in possession of a life that has willed only one thing. Amen.
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 9:41 PM