Why Certification?

Certification provides a pattern for self-directed, life-long learning, and a frame for continuous engagement with the clinical learning process within the chapter.

Requirements for certification in CPSP reference the learning that occurs in training, while clearly identifying the further development in personal and professional functioning that certification represents – together, the highest standard in clinical chaplaincy and clinical pastoral training.

The process of certification provides the candidate (and the chapter) with a work task – a mission – that develops through mentoring, then consultation, and continues through the annual review of certifications (as part of the renewal process). The work task forms and informs the chapter as a community of practice.

Certification includes the authorization to work, within the boundaries of one’s competence, according to the standards for each respective certification. 

Certification in supervisory roles represents, in addition, an affirmation of one’s character, as well as competence. Supervision is less a role and function (although both are true) than a discipline, a spiritual path.  

Certification assures employers of the certified member’s clinical, theological, conceptual, and ethical competence – based, in the beginning of the relationship, on the reputation of CPSP.

Certification – and the progressive and continuing development that the process encourages, through mutual accountability for personal and professional functioning – equips certified members to give, through their words and work, a satisfying answer to the question, “Why…CPSP?”

Clinical Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor

Certification as Clinical Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor represents mastery of basic, broad-spectrum pastoral counseling; it does not signify competence to offer psychotherapy, but rather competence to offer supportive and crisis-oriented pastoral counseling, informed by in-depth clinical and cognitive understandings of the principles found in psychodynamic psychotherapy.

The Clinical Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor is equipped to distinguish the boundaries, authority, role and task that correspond to these respective roles. The chaplain role is defined by its context in the institution – religious, healthcare, military or civic – in which it is found; the pastoral counselor role is specific to a ministry setting, within a faith community.

Subspecialty Certifications

Recognizing the development of specialized areas, or subspecialties, within clinical chaplaincy, CPSP certifies members’ qualification for service in the clinical subspecialties of Hospice and Palliative Care, and Substance Use and Addiction.

Pastoral Psychotherapist

“Psychotherapy” identifies the most advanced level of functioning in the mental health fields – psychiatry, psychology, social work, pastoral counseling, professional counseling, marriage and family counseling, or nursing. 

The minister who practices pastoral psychotherapy demonstrates mastery of the insights and principles of both theology and the behavioral disciplines – specifically, the contributions of psychology. The pastoral psychotherapist serves as a treatment resource for persons who are troubled or disabled and as a guide and counselor to persons seeking greater wholeness and self-awareness. The training and certification of a pastoral psychotherapist prepares and authorizes the minister to function at this most advanced proficiency level of ministry.

Diplomate in Pastoral Supervision

Diplomates in Pastoral Supervision have integrated the disciplines of theology and the social/ behavioral sciences, both personally and in clinical practice, and are specialists in supervising programs of Clinical Pastoral Training.

Diplomate in Pastoral Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy supervisors have integrated the disciplines of theology and the social/behavioral sciences, both personally and in clinical practice, and are specialists in supervising programs of pastoral psychotherapy.

Clinically Trained Minister

The Clinically Trained Minister has received basic clinical training in addition to their theological education, and in their pastoral work, integrate the insights of clinical training into their pastoral care, counseling, and assessment of parishioners or congregants.