Clinical Pastoral Training (CPT) at the Academy enters fifth year

Clinical Pastoral Training (CPT) at the Academy enters fifth year

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By the Reverend Kurt Neilson

A long-held part of the visioning of the Academy for Formation and Mission (AFM) was delivering quality Clinical Pastoral Training in an accessible and flexible form to under-served parts of the region.  

Due to the patient work of the Rev. Sallie Bowman, Director of Spiritual Care at Legacy-Good Samaritan Medical Center and the collaboration of many, in 2017 this vision became a reality.  It was and is my honor to be an integral part of this program as we further develop its identity, refine its approaches, and in the age of Black Lives Matter and deepening awareness of bias and unequal access to resources and opportunities seek to extend the program’s partnerships in the larger community.

The program’s CPT (CPE) units are certified by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP), representing “the highest standard in clinical chaplaincy and clinical pastoral training.”  (www.cpsp.org)  I was given the privilege of undergoing training as a CPT Diplomate (CPE Supervisor) and was certified in early March of 2020 as the pandemic was beginning to spread in this nation.  CPSP models the action-reflection-action approach in its training, so I “learned by doing” supervising trainees in a number of clinical sites while continuing to work as a staff Chaplain at Legacy-Good Samaritan.  I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to live my priesthood in this role of equipping pastoral caregivers to minister in a diverse and challenging world.

Clinical pastoral education or training has traditionally been limited by geographic location, time availability, and finances.  Although some established centers have experimented with part-time CPE units, the basic programs highlight full-time Summer units of some ten weeks’ duration, on site at the center, during which students are responsible for their own support.  These programs were designed for full-time seminary students who have the ability to devote a whole summer to their training, sometimes traveling out of state to do so as these programs are limited and competition for summer spots can be strong.

Instead, accessibility in the AFM program is assured first through clinical experience that is offered through partnership with a number of health care systems in Western Oregon, including Legacy, OHSU/Tuality, and Samaritan Health.  In addition, for those trainees located in more remote places or those trainees who wish their ministerial focus to not be in institutional health care settings, clinical placement may be developed and agreed upon in social service, community organization, or congregational settings.

Group sessions as well as individual supervision is carried out on-line.  Once pandemic restrictions are lifted we may resume the practice of two weekend in-person retreats.

Cost is modest by CPE standards:  $575.00 per unit, financial assistance available, and a reduced rate for trainees who are also registered for the full-time curriculum at the AFM.

We welcome inquiries, conversations, and are happy to lead candidates through the application process. Please contact me, the Rev. Kurt Neilson, at kbneilson@lhs.org  


Our program graduates are our best spokespeople:

“My experience of this Clinical Pastoral Education (CPT) program was literally transformative: it gave me the training and experience to embark upon a new walk in life. It helped me set ambitious goals for my spiritual and professional development, then gave me a supportive learning environment to tackle them in… My supervisor and cohort provided an encouraging yet challenging setting in which to present my clinical case studies and learn from my inevitable errors. I came away from this CPT unit with a clear sense of calling to chaplaincy work and the confidence and skills to continue pursuing it, combined with the humility to know that one never truly masters it.

Greg Morgan, M.Div.
Society of Friends (Quaker)
CPT alumnus


“I learned so much about the vulnerability, courage, and resiliency of human beings…CPE increased my self-awareness, taught me better listening skills, and deepened my empathy for others. I learned a lot about my biases and assumptions, and while the training tested my theology, I came out with a deeper faith in God than before. The program helped me to become a more effective and compassionate chaplain, but it also positively impacted communication in my personal relationships. In addition, as a direct result of this training, I was able to graduate from my unit and obtain a CPE chaplaincy residency…

Chaplain Susan Zwingli, M.A.
Episcopalian, CPT Alumna


“I have been honored to complete two units of CPT through the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.   As a nurse practitioner and professor of nursing, I have found a good fit between nursing and healthcare chaplaincy.  One of the most meaningful takeaways from the CPT program is the importance of walking alongside people experiencing health transitions without a preset agenda.  I think CPT has taken me out of my comfort zone as a “human doing” and helped me to really engage as a “human being.”  This gentler, more human way of being has influenced and changed my leadership as Associate Dean of Nursing as well…”

 Linda Eddy, R.N., Ph.D.
Nursing Educator, CPT alumna


In addition to the strong current of guidance from those who welcomed me into the CPT application process, telling their stories, and providing direction, the most meaningful takeaway has been more fully becoming who God intends me to be, by recognizing what holds me back, and engaging in my weaknesses and blind spots so they may be changed into assets…As I have grown in learning with my cohorts (both of my two units) during the past 1 1/2  years, my intended “volunteer” ministry at Good Samaritan Curry Village, Skilled Nursing Facility, Brookings, became a paid position…My experience with CPT and the transition from being a trainee to an employed chaplain over the last many months has given me the opportunity to explore and overcome insecurities and self doubt. I have been given increased confidence in my ability to minister in a new capacity as a spiritual care provider, and gain both self-respect as well as self worth… 

Chaplain Paige Lindley, B.S.
Member CPSP, CPT alumna


One of the takeaways for me was learning that deep listening is a form of prayer and pastoral care…Now that I work in a parish setting, I have been called on to visit folks in a number of different settings, from hospitals to memory care units to their homes, and I have a much deeper sense of comfort and ease entering those spaces…I also learned a lot about my own life, my own places of deep hurt and deep love, and the ways God has been active in my life. That self-awareness has been invaluable to my relationships and my own sense of self and my vocation.  When I started my discernment for the priesthood, I did not feel especially called to or comfortable with pastoral care. My time in CPT helped me to see my gifts (and growing edges) in pastoral care. I also came to recognize how much I appreciate being part of a team, and that as I continue in my vocation I hope to be able to continue to work collaboratively wherever God calls me to be. 

The Rev. Jeanne Kalieszewski, M.Div.
Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, Portland
CPT Alumna