Saturday, July 8, 2017

Clinical Pastoral Education in New York!

In The Episcopal Church, the rich journey to priesthood usually contains the vital, and sometimes dreaded, element of CPE. This stands for Clinical Pastoral Education and often consists of work as a chaplain at either a hospital or medical center. Many other denominations also include CPE and many place it in the summer after the first year in semniary.The hours in my program have been divided into 100 hours of class and "Didactic days" while the remaining 300 are spent being and chaplain at a hospital. The National Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) has a list of most CPE programs and presents standards for spiritual care and education for professionals and people seeking to become professionals in any faith tradition or setting. CPE is a form of theological education. While it can lead to professional chaplaincy, it is important for faith leaders to have experiential learning and actually have a chance to practice ministry. Gaining insights of self-awareness and that of others is important to both giving and receiving care.
I chose the New York Lutheran Services Alliance for my program. It's in New York and is an extremely diverse program. I'm working at New York University Langone (formerly NYU Lutheran) hospital in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, NY.  My classes are held on the upper west side area of Riverside at The Interchurch Center. 
I'm loving my experience, both in the program and in New York and Brooklyn. It's been valuable. I have not liked everything about it and certain things are still growing on me (verbatims, for one), but overall, I am personally finding it a pastorally-validating, mindfullness-creating, rewarding, journey-through-the-emotions type of experience. Long ago, I worked extremely hard on my boundaries between teaching and taking things home. I learned, the hard way, not to take everything with me all of the time. I did not realize how much my previous work and therapy had helped me until I began to notice other colleagues struggling with some things. Here, this time, I have not taken things home and spent time (other than prayer) on them. 
I have, in fact, managed somehow to have a bit of a life here in New York. 
Lucky for me, I have a support system, including my sweet Bluebell kitty and some friends in NYC. I am very fortunate that the person from whom I'm renting allowed me to bring Bluebell with me. My friends are mostly busy or on vacation outside of the area, but I have managed to see some of them for dinner, coffee, a harbour cruise (this one), or a Broadway show. I'm able to do those things because my lunches are provided at the hospital (as a volunteer) and being a VSG-er, I eat tiny meals so get plenty of mileage from the salads I get! So, I'll write some more about the CPE experience another time, but: so far, so good.

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