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As I’ve said before, I’ve been dismayed by the lack of information on the interwebs about people’s experience going through the CPE Supervisor training process. And I struggle when I try to explain to folks in the real world what I’m doing with my life these days. So here’s a quick summary.

I work as a chaplain, I’m also an educator and at the same time a student. I’ve heard people compare this process to getting a PhD, and right now I am similar to a TA. One CPE Supervisor said getting his PhD was much easier than undergoing this process.

Below is a diagram of what the process looks like (click to enlarge). I’ve heard getting to the Associate Supervisor level (aka – when you can do this for a living) can take anywhere from 3 to 10 years. Last week I reached a milestone as I met with and passed my certification committee. I am now a CPE Supervisory Candidate, meaning I can supervise/teach/counsel the chaplain chickadees on my own, while videotaping everything for review with my supervisors.

Meeting with the committee is an INSANE experience. About 50% of people fail the first time. I’ll have to meet with a committee again down the road when I attempt certification as an Associate Supervisor and then again as I try to get certified as a Full Supervisor.

The committee consists of 5 CPE Supervisors. A month prior to the meeting I had to send huge binders of materials to these individuals who then in turn read them and prepare a report on me. The materials were 150+ pages in length and included my autobiography, a verbatim, papers I’ve written about pastoral care, theology & my CPE journey, plus all my old CPE evaluations.

The real test is how you do when you are with the committee for 1.5 hours. You have to walk the fine line of being competent yet vulnerable, polished but still emotionally available. You’re supposed to name your emotions, comment on the relational dynamics in the room and portray your supervisory skills. They ask all sorts of questions and tell you their experience of you. It is like a CPE Interview on steroids.

The committee then takes 45 minutes to decide and calls you back in to let you know  their decision. My supervisor was surprised that I wasn’t jumping for joy when they told me I passed – truth be told – I was in shock and so darn tired!