What is CPE?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) began in 1925 as a form of theological education offered in settings where people experience pain, suffering, change, stress, and other sorts of significant challenges and life events.

Around the world, CPE is offered in hospitals, aged care facilities, hospices, psychiatric institutions, prisons, military bases, police departments, workplace settings, community agencies, religious congregations and more. In WA, our centres are limited to hospitals, but we are expanding the scope of how and where we offer our programmes.

The model of education used in CPE is highly experiential, based in theory and geared towards helping professional people become more aware of the ways their attitudes, values and assumptions impact the care they offer for better or worse.

Hands-­on practice lies at the heart of our method; students learn by doing as they care for people experiencing change, loss, stress, or any feeling evoked by significant life events.  We call our primary text “The Living Human Document” because we recognise the depth and breadth of learning that can happen when working with people at deep and significant levels.

Practice is followed by structured processes of review and analysis, a process we call the “action reflection” model of learning.  Through writing and discussion with peers and a supervisor, students become aware of  their gifts and strengths for caring for people, as well as their limitations.  They also gain insight into the ways their ingrained attitudes, values and assumptions influence the care they offer.

With the support, confrontation and clarification of peers and supervisors, students can make significant and lasting improvements in their ability to listen, assess spiritual needs, formulate a plan of care and respond effectively.


In addition, we offer seminars on a wide variety of topics related to caregiving and leadership, as well as unstructured groups in which students are encouraged to reflect on their personal and professional identity, their beliefs and values and how all of these impact the way they care for others.

Traditionally the domain of church, religious leaders and chaplains, the CPE method is proving to be an effective means of helping a variety of healthcare professionals, educators, and leaders to become more self aware and compassionate.  Because the method deals with deeply held belief systems and values which are often rooted in an explicit or implicit view of God or other Higher Power, our education model is inherently theological.  We acknowledge, however, that increasingly Western Australians find meaning and spirituality in a wide variety of practices and experiences; therefore our programmes are open to those with any sort of religious belief, those who understand themselves as spiritual but not religious, and those who are grounded in more humanistic perspectives.