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.
The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy’s distinctive professional development opportunity, the National Clinical Training Seminar (NCTS), was hosted at the breathtaking Stella Maris Retreat Center, Elberton, NJ on May 21-22, 2012. This year’s theme: “Chapter Based Governance,” was timely and on point considering the discussion had at this year’s Plenary regarding the same (see Dr. Lawrence’s article in Pastoral Report dated April 9, 2012 for more details). Our host, Dr. Francine Hernandez, who is as gracious as she is beautiful, catered to our every whim and her energy and enthusiasm made the experience a most memorable one. The General Secretary, Dr. Raymond J. Lawrence, Jr., was also on site to lend his years of wisdom and experience to the process.
With over 50+ persons in attendance, the small group dynamic was crucial to the success of the seminar. There were nine small groups represented, all with dynamic and innovative leadership. Dr. Lawrence and other Diplomates directed the Supervisor in Training small groups. The small groups allowed for introspective reflection on both a professional and personal level. Participants were simultaneously teacher and student. The small group dynamic created a sacred space that allowed for breaking down of walls, the exposure of deficiencies and insecurities, and the rebuilding of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit) without recrimination. The work presented in the small groups was then shared with the larger body during supervisory sessions which afforded the persons presenting the opportunity gain fresh insight and knowledge.
An acute critical analysis as to the way we govern ourselves as a collegial, professional community was much needed and NCTS was all too accommodating in this endeavor. Periodically, in the life of an organization, that organization must find ways in which to participate in contemplative and retrospective practices in an effort to stay relevant and relational. NCTS provided two opportunities to accomplish such a task: (1) presentations on “Chapter Based Governance”; (2) Tavistock Group Relation Seminar.
The presentations on “Chapter Based Governance” were presented by Dr. David Roth and Dr. Steven Voytovich. Dr. Voytovich’s presentation focused more on needed revisions to the governing documents of CPSP and chapter formation. A noteworthy point regarding chapter formation is that careful attention and consideration must be given to the need for indigenous Chapter life. Chapter formation does not happen in a vacuum and, therefore, when forming a Chapter, the sitz im leben must be an integral part of that process. We must encourage new Chapters to re-define and utilize the CPSP “standards” in ways that make sense for them and the community in which the Chapter is formed. One size does not fit all. In so doing, we hold true to the ideals of the CPSP Covenant.
Dr. Roth’s presentation focused on more on the structural issues and how expanded, chapter-based governance would work in CPSP. To that end, Dr. Roth proposed a five-tier system of Chapters: (1) The Chapter; (2) The Provincial Chapter; (3) The Governing Chapter; (4) The Plenary Chapter; and (5) The General Chapter. The terms and governance of each tier was delineated by Dr. Roth and the participants were afforded the opportunity to organize according to this proposed model. Dr. Roth postulates that by implementing this model of governance, CPSP will then begin to take seriously the premise that “…we place a premium on the significance of the relationships among ourselves.” This proposed model will afford the membership at large the opportunity to foster connectional relationships and to improve communication and accountability. For more information regarding Dr. Roth’s proposed governance model, your attention is directed to his article in Pastoral Report dated March 5, 2012 entitled, “The Future of Governance in the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy.”
What was once old is now new again. That statement holds true for the Tavistock Group Relations Seminar. Tavistock is a group relational method that originated with the work of the British psychoanalyst Wilfred R. Bion in the late 1940s. The basic premises of this methodology is that a cluster of persons become a group when, and only when, interaction between each other occurs, awareness of common relationships develop, and a common group task emerges. The members are seated in a spiral circle with no beginning and no end. No group leader is identified in this process. Everyone has a voice and all voices are heard. Tavistock proved to be a painful and uncomfortable experience for many of the participants. Emotions ran high, spirited discussion was had, and truth was spoken with a compassionate heart – even in the awkward silence. The participants were transformed from a collective of individuals to a “supportive and challenging community.”
As a relative new comer to CPSP, I had no idea what to expect at this event. However, I felt that it would be a learning experience if I would avail myself to the process. If there was ever any doubt as to the professional credibility of CPSP, all doubts have been removed. As with all endeavors, one must bring a posture of humility and a willingness to learn to the process (and CPSP is a process), then, and only then, can the process of “recovery of the soul” truly begin. NCTS-East was an empowering experiencing that called the participants to a higher level of accountability to God, to self, to others, and to the CPSP Process.
Missiouri L. McPhee, MACE, MDiv, DHL, DMin, ACC, APC
Pastoral Care Department
Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at June 18, 2012 10:37 AM