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Discernment and assessment in selecting CPE supervisory education students. The Rev. Judith R. Ragsdale, Ph.D. The Rev. Marla Y. Coulter-McDonald, M.Div. ACPE Supervisors with an interest in CPE Supervisory Education

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Discernment and assessment in selecting cpe supervisory education students
Discernment and assessment in selecting CPE supervisory education students

The Rev. Judith R. Ragsdale, Ph.D.

The Rev. Marla Y. Coulter-McDonald, M.Div.

Who are you

ACPE Supervisors with an interest in CPE Supervisory Education

Persons interested in ACPE and invested in improving the supervisory education process

People with experience in discernment who can bring your wisdom to the conversation

People who may learn more about how to discern who to recommend for/invite to consider Supervisory CPE

Who are you?

Who are we
Who are we? Education

Marla Coulter-McDonald

  • ACPE Supervisor

  • Board Certified Chaplain

  • Manager of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education at Indiana University Health Center North

  • AME Pastor

  • Co-leader of the CPE Discernment Unit

  • Person attending AME Annual Conference and very sorry to miss today’s session

And… Education

Judy Ragsdale

  • ACPE Supervisor

  • Assistant Professor doing qualitative research

  • Director of Education and Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

  • United Church of Christ pastor

  • Co-leader of the CPE Discernment Unit

Why discernment
Why Discernment? Education

  • A lot of people don’t make it through the process

  • Mutual Discernment

  • Implied Reflection

  • Good stewardship of time and other resources

Discernment defined
Discernment Defined Education

The Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling defines discernment in two ways :

1. “spiritual discernment is…a general ability to understand and interpret a person’s spiritual state and religious experience…Wise pastors are generally able to discern those under their care who are endowed with particular gifts and graces…Conversely, they should be able to guide good and faithful people whose immaturity may be leading them along false paths of prayer.”

Discernment defined1
Discernment Defined Education

2. “the contemporary pastor might prefer to deal with spiritual experience in terms of misinterpretation and self-deception, and to interpret the Spirit’s leading by sanctified rational thought…In ordinary pastoral practice, the concern is with a correct interpretation of these common levels; is this or that experience a genuine disclosure of the will of God…God is unlikely to provide a detailed career blueprint...Ministry requires certain qualities: intellectual ability, leadership, compassion, a thirst for prayer. God can overrule any deficiency, but the plain lack of all such qualities makes the vocation suspect.

Discernment quote
Discernment Quote Education

“Pastoral discernment in supervision refers to the stewardship of the supervisee’s gifts and calling for pastoral care and counseling ministry. The pastoral supervisor exercises a gate keeping function in the selection, training and commissioning of designated pastoral caregivers and counsellors. Gate keeping in pastoral supervisory ministry is a function of discerning God’s activity.” B.T. Morrison

How we arrived at the idea of a discernment unit
How we arrived at the idea of a Discernment Unit Education

  • A history of not selecting successful candidates for Supervisory CPE

  • Memory of good guidance from Jane Litzinger

  • Testing the portion of a model for Selecting SESs

  • Interested potential SESs

First dimension selecting supervisory education students sess
First Dimension: Selecting Supervisory Education Students (SESs)

“So I think picking well is half the battle… this idea of spiritual and emotional maturity is a must.”

“…it requires a unique set of skills and… among them, is willingness to become vulnerable and openness to the external critique.”

First dimension the shadow side
First Dimension: the Shadow Side (SESs)

“I found pretty quickly that there [are] people who wanted to do supervisory education because of the wonderful experience they’d had with CPE, and they were kind of evangelists. But they did not really understand the demands of becoming a supervisor. And they often could not get past kind of the—I guess the good feeling you have when you went to church camp, came home, after the night, the final night—singing Abide with Me…They just have a good feeling about CPE. And they want to pass it on. And of course I think, when that happens, I don’t think it’s the student’s responsibility, I think it’s the Center and the person that takes them on that’s made a mistake. And I made some mistakes.”

Practical tool the cpe discernment unit
Practical Tool: (SESs)The CPE Discernment Unit

  • Participants

    • Howard

    • Ben

    • James

  • Application and Interview process

  • Curriculum

  • Description of the Unit

Application and interview process
Application and Interview process (SESs)

  • Standard ACPE application plus an essay about why interested in Supervisory CPE

  • Consultation with supervisors in other centers

Curriculum (SESs)

  • Retreat

  • Written requirements

    • Why I want to be a CPE Supervisor

    • Verbatim presentations

    • Discernment Paper

    • Evaluations

  • Reading Assignments

  • Interpersonal Relations Group

  • Individual Supervision

  • Didactics

Didactics (SESs)

  • Group Theory and IPR

  • Balancing Work life and Supervisory Education

  • ACPE Standards and Certification Manual

  • Theological Reflection / Using the Verbatim for Reflection

  • Didactic on Process and Content and Parallel Process in CPE

  • Clinical Reflection tools: The JoHari Window & The Ladder of Inference

Didactics (SESs)

  • Learning Goals vs. Professional Goals

  • Identity Formation: Making the transition from student to professional to Educator

  • What is Theory; Theologically, Personality, Educational

  • Stages of Group Development, from the book The Different Drum, by M. Scott Peck

  • The History of CPE

Didactics (SESs)

  • Pastoral Identity and Pastoral Authority

  • Reading Seminar: Chapters from --- Supervision in the Helping Professions by Peter Hawkins and Robin Shohet

  • Reading Seminar: “Supervision” by Thomas W. Klink

Description of the unit
Description of the Unit (SESs)

  • Retreat for group forming

  • Weekly meetings beginning with lunch

  • Slow re-entry into IPR

  • Slow re-entry into presenting verbatim material

  • Realization this was not Introductory Supervisory CPE, but rather Level II – for most

What the students learned
What the Students Learned (SESs)

  • All affirmed this unit as a positive experience

  • One felt drawn by personal needs

  • One needed to continue counting the cost

  • One could have entered Supervisory CPE

    • Learned to trust self and CPE process

    • Observation of Marla’s supervision “extremely helpful”

What we learned
What we learned (SESs)

  • Four units of CPE and significant pastoral experience does not mean one is prepared to enter Supervisory CPE

  • For a professional pastoral care provider to become a vulnerable CPE student is more difficult than we had imagined

What we learned1
What we learned (SESs)

  • Articulating pastoral theology is not a given for professional pastoral care providers

  • Defining learning goals was complicated

  • Self-supervision skills were not in evidence

  • The Discernment Unit will typically be Level II

Learning from others
Learning from Others (SESs)

  • This idea was not unique to us

  • Rhonda Gilligan Gillespie had also been offering this type of CPE

  • Workshop suggestion: Hold a Retreat for potential SESs

In case you are interested in our article
In case you are interested in our article… (SESs)

Ragsdale, J. R., & Coulter-McDonald, M. Y. (2012). The Discernment Unit as a Tool in the Applicant Selection Process in Supervisory Clinical Pastoral Education. Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, 32. Available online at http://journals.sfu.ca/rpfs/index.php/rpfs/article/


Discerning a vocation to do supervisory cpe
Discerning a Vocation to do Supervisory CPE (SESs)

Participant quotes:

“Ever since I did my first unit of CPE I said…, ‘That was a transformative experience that changed everything for me,’ and my zeal and motivation for CPE was to, I guess, engage students in a transformative process where they could experience the same thing.”

“I guess what I would suggest is that people even supervisors decide that it’s important to take the time for the process … is this an appropriate time for someone to take on the new student, what does that mean, what does that look like…”

Elements of discerning
Elements of Discerning (SESs)

  • finding CPE to be a life-changing experience

  • realizing a desire to become a CPE supervisor

  • counting the cost in terms of logistics – both personal and professional

  • experiencing a strong desire to persist through difficult feedback and sometimes painful realizations

  • student and supervisor(s) agreeing on the student’s ability and potential (pastoral, emotional, intellectual)

Discernment is mutual
Discernment is Mutual (SESs)

Potential SESs must discern:

  • own desire and potential

  • supervisor/program’s capability

    Potential Supervisory Education Supervisors must discern:

  • whether an applicant is qualified

  • their own level of commitment and ability at this level

Parker palmer the courage to teach
Parker Palmer: The Courage to Teach (SESs)

  • “Any authentic call ultimately comes from the voice of the teacher within, the voice that invites me to honor the nature of my true self.”

  • “A vocation that is not mine, no matter how externally valued, does violence to the self…When I “violate” myself, I invariably end up violating the people I work with.”

  • “…is it my vocation? Am I gifted and called to do it?”

Conclusion (SESs)

  • The Call to Teach includes – from both student and supervisor – the call to discern.

  • The Discernment Unit of CPE is one path toward the difficult process of selecting CPE Supervisory Education Students.

  • Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about discernment.

  • This is your opportunity to offer thoughts or raise question.