We plan to have a Clinical Pastoral Education training starting on June 23. This will probably be a half unit only. However, if some are looking for a full unit, we are open to discussing the possibility.

Group time will be for 8 Saturdays (for the half unit).

CPE is practical training for pastoral in a hospital and community setting. If you have any questions, contact us at info@bukallife.org.


Necessity of Theology and Ethics in Pastoral Care

A question can be asked as to whether there is a role for pastoral care. While pastoral care has centuries (millenia) of experience… the last 100 years has seen growth of alternatives for psychoemotional care.

Consider 6 possible (or at least potential) views regarding therapeutic care for those with psychoemotional problems. (These are listed by H. Newton Malony in “The Demise and Rebirth of the Chaplaincy” Journal of Pastoral Care, Vol. 29, 1975)

  1. Biophysical. The psychoemotional problems stem from problems with the physical body.

  2. Intrapsychic. The problems stem from bad mental processes/conflicts going on within the mind.

  3. Behavioral. The problem is bad learned habits that must be unlearned/replaced.

  4. Socioeconomic. The problem is the environment the person is in. It is necessary to change the setting.

  5. Meaning. The problem is that the individual has failed to gain a sense or purpose or meaning in life.

  6. Morality. The problem is conflict between actions and sense of moral obligations and social responsibilities.

Psychiatrists may be generally thought of when it comes to the first of these (mental care tied to medicine). Psychologists of different flavors may work primarily in the 2nd and 3rd areas. Perhaps social workers would focus in the 4th area. But who can handle the 5th or 6th areas?

It seems pretty obvious that those specializing in pastoral care (pastoral counseling, pastoral psychotherapy) should be the one’s prepared to work in these areas.


First, the concerns of meaning and purpose are essentially theological or religious concerns. Religion speaks to the great mysteries… Why am I here? What is my purpose? Is this all there is? Who am I? Theology reflects upon these religious questions. These can also be described as the issues of spirituality. Sadly today, “spirituality” often implies a vague pleasant mysticism, but “spiritus” has more of an idea of “empowered meaning” or “enlivened purpose.” Dealing with issues of meaning and purpose are clearly to be in the skill set of a pastoral care provider since it is the realm of religion, theology, spirituality.

Second, the concerns of morality or social obligation are issues of ethics, of axiology. Dealing with choices as they pertain to what the individual believes his obligations are to God, to society, and to “what is right” is certainly supposed to be the domain of one trained in religious or pastoral care.

But is this true?

Sadly, this often is not very true. Theological training for pastoral care providers is often quite weak. Much of the training of pastoral care is more in the first four areas… particularly in the 2nd area. Is that wrong? Well, it is not wrong that pastoral care providers be trained in psychological principles. But if the focus is so strong that their theological integration is poor, the result can be that a pastoral care provider is one who essentially practices psychology– but with less skill than a real psychologist. Additionally, there is a strange reticence to give moral guidance in pastoral care. Perhaps this is a reaction to those who are often all too happy to provide quick and easy guidance… often with an ethical base little above Biblical verse dropping.

Pastoral Care Providers need a solid, reflective, nuanced understanding of theology, particularly as it relates to meaning and purpose, and as it relates ot making wise ethical choices. Pastoral Care should follow the wisdom of Psalm 23 in gently leading/guiding. This contrasts the polemic approach of some in ministry. But it also contrasts with the Rogerian “client-centered” approach that fails to give external guidance.

Summarizing, a solid pastoral care provider needs a mature understanding of his or her faith within the context of sound psychoemotional therapeutic principles and methods. If this is the case, such a person is competent to deal with the 5th and 6th areas of psychoemotional concern… areas that others have little to no competence in.

One may want to read an old, but good, article.  Has Ministry’s Nerve Been Cut by the Pastoral Counseling Movement? by Gaylord Noyce (1978)

Honest Christianity – chaplaincy and the local church

Marker Posts and Shelters


This week I was invited to speak at what was a reasonably unique event in my experience. Itwas not the theme that was unusual – I often get asked to speak about bereavement. It was not even the group – volunteer chaplains. It was that the training session on bereavement for volunteer chaplains was being run by a local church as a part of a wider training programme.

It is the vision of Renewal Church in Solihull to develop their members to reach out in their
local community. Chaplaincy is perceived as an effective way to serve the local community and is part of the mission strategy of the church. Church members care, listen, serve people where they are to be found in places they have gone to willingly or unwillingly – GP surgeries, playing sports, hospitals and hospices, schools… The training is helping them to be intentional and purposeful…

View original post 33 more words

Psychological Labeling

A fascinating study done by David Rosenhan of Stanford University illustrates the impact of psychiatric labeling. Rosenhan and several colleagues had themselves committed to mental hospitals  with a diagnosis of “schizophrenia.” After being admitted, each of these pseudo-patients dropped all pretense of mental illness. Yet, even though they acted completely normal, none of the researchers was ever recognized by hospital staff as a phony patient. Real patients were not so easily fooled. It was not unusual for a patient to say to one of the researchers, “You’re not crazy, you’re checking up on the hospital!” or “You’re a journalist.”

To record his observations, Rosenham took notes by carefully jotting things on a small piece of paper hidden in his hand. However, he soon learned that stealth was totally unnecessary. Rosenhan simply walked around with a clipboard, recording observations and collecting data. No one questioned this behavior. Rosenhan’s note taking was just regarded as a symptom of his “illness.” This observation clarifies why staff members failed to detect the fake patients. Because they were in a mental ward, and because they had been labeled schizophrenic, anything the pseudo-patients did was seen as a symptom of psychopathology.

As Rosenham’s study shows, it is far better to label problems than to label people. Think of the difference in impact between saying “You are experiencing a serious psychological disorder” and saying, “You are a schizophrenic.”

-Dennis Coon, “Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior,” 9th edition. pages 556-557

Completion of Clinical Pastoral Orientation


Congratulations to Keishon, Lalaine, Tess, and German in completing Clinical Pastoral Orientation. They are seated here on their final meeting with Celia (their instructor in the middle). CPO is a mini-CPE (about 1/4 of a full unit). It provides the structure and educational philosophy of CPE while set up to be more compatible with a Bible School or Seminary quarterly or tri-mestral program. For some, the program is enough to provide insight into pastoral care and into self, while for others, it provides a stepping stone to the regular Clinical Pastoral Education program.

Three of them will be starting Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) on March 16.

Update on CPE Program

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a program of pastoral care training that was developed in the 1920s and has become popular worldwide. It develops individuals to integrate their role as pastoral care persons (whether as clergy or laity) that combines standard small group lecture with group process, individual supervision, and practical (“hands-on”) ministry. The venue for practical ministry is typically in hospitals (serving as a chaplain intern), but may also be done in jails, hospices, churches, and other settings.

The CPE done at Bukal Life Care is certified by the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy (www.pastoralreport.com) and CPSP-Philippines (www.cpspp.org)

CPE is done in units.

  • Each unit consists of 400 hours, and takes (typically) about 11 weeks. The 400 hours consists of 300 hours of practical ministry and reflections, and 100 hours of formal training, group work and individual supervision.

  • A half unit consists of approximately 200 hours and takes (typically) about 6 weeks. The 200 hours is divided in a similar manner between practical ministry and other training modes.

Many religious and health institutions require, or at least recommend, that their workers have completed either half of a unit, or one full unit.

Cost Breakdown

  • Full Unit.

    • Supervisory Fee**             10,000 Php

    • Administrative Fee**            2,000 Php

    • Ministerial Support**           2,000 Php

                                          Total: 14,000 Php

  • Half Unit.

    • Supervisory Fee**              5,000 Php

    • Administrative Fee**          1,500 Php

    • Ministerial Support**          1,000 Php

                                                      Total: 7,500 Php

**Supervisory Fee covers the tuition and supervision cost for the trainees individual trainer/supervisor. Administrative fee covers cost of records, certificates, ID, snacks during training, and testing. Ministerial Support covers costs for onsite ministerial coverage, and outside trainers as needed.

NOTE 1: The amount charged does not cover transportation, food, or lodging of individuals

NOTE 2: Scholarship arrangements are sometimes available on a case by case basis. Need is the primary, but not only, criteria.


CPE Summer Intensive (Mar-May) 2015

Trying to figure out how many have committed to do CPE this Summer starting March 16 (or April 8th for half unit). We are coming up with 10 for full unit and 8 for half unit. That is the largest number since 2011. But the number may still go up or down. They will be split between Celia Munson, Dr. Paul Tabon, and Jehny Pedazo.

Any questions, concerns, and such, contact at info@bukallife.org, or bukallife@gmail.com.

Also looking into having another unit starting, perhaps in June… maybe July. Looking into the possibiliy that this unit will focus more on palliative care, due to the growth of need in this area in the Baguio area. Will keep you update.