, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 339-356

In a Secular Spirit: Strategies of Clinical Pastoral Education

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Abstract

The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) model forthe provision of spiritual care represents theemergence of a secularized professionalpractice from a religiously-based theologicalpractice of chaplaincy. The transformation ofhospital chaplaincy into “spiritual careservices” is one means by which religioushealthcare ministry negotiates modernity, inthe particular forms of the secular realm ofbiomedicine and the pluralism of thecontemporary United States healthcaremarketplace. “Spiritual” is a labelstrategically deployed to extend the realm ofrelevance to any patient's “belief system,”regardless of his or her religious affiliation.“Theological” language is recast as a tool forconceptualizing the “spiritual lens.” Suchmoves transform chaplaincy from a peripheralservice, applicable only to the few “religious”patients, into an integral element of patientcare for all. Such a secularized professionalpractice is necessary to demonstrate therelevance and utility of spiritual care for allhospital patients in an era of cost-containmentpriorities and managed care economics.