Transforming Chaplaincy colleague publishes in Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling

Dr. Judy Ragsdale, Director of Education & Research, Pastoral Care at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center published “Transforming Chaplaincy Requires Transforming Clinical Pastoral Education” in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling.

The Rev. Michael Doane, Director of the Clinical Pastoral Education Center at Fairview, caught up with Dr. Ragsdale at the annual meeting of ACPE last week to discuss her article:


What led you to write this article?

Sometime ago, after doing a research project with adolescents, I worked with a physician who commented at how much religion mattered to the patients and families as they sought to make sense of what was happening to them. As that study continued, the physician and other members of the team kept asking why chaplains were not better communicating the prayers of our patients; those prayers conveyed what was most important to the patients. I realized that our work in qualitative research was inviting and exploring the patient’s favorite sacred stories more than I had done as a chaplain. I came to believe the CPE model is not adequately teaching us to get to the “faith question” fast enough or specifically enough.


How do you understand this in light of the need to transform CPE?

In interviews conducted with newly certified supervisors, I noticed how little faith was a focus of the education being provided.  In follow up interviews with certifying commissioners, few of them were looking at how supervisory education students were talking about faith as a part of their educational method.  There seems to be too much distance between the clinical team’s belief that chaplains are experts on religion and what CPE actually equips chaplains to do.


What is the next step toward transforming CPE?

A good next step would be to use ACPE Outcomes to teach future chaplains to get outside themselves.  Level 1 CPE should require the capacity do a spiritual assessment. Level 2 should require the ability to do spiritual assessment and then develop treatment plans for people with faith traditions different from your own.


Be sure to check out Dr. Ragsdale’s article, available at the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling.


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