I rejected that at the time (as a dangerous and perhaps even idolatrous practice), and I still reject it, today. But my experience as a person who supervises chaplain students and directs them in their learning has given me a different perspective on the issues of authority and submission to it.
There is one kind of submission to authority that is surely necessary for the learning process to work-- you have to accept the authority of that learning process. That is, you have to accept the potential of that learning process to teach you something and you have to buy into the method that underlies that learning process.
But getting people to buy into the potential of the process to teach them something is especially problematic in clinical pastoral education (CPE). That's because learning in CPE is unlike most kinds of learning that people have been exposed to in their lives. First of all, learning in CPE is mostly _not_ about the usual educational tasks of acquiring information or learning established techniques -- learning in CPE is about self-transformation. That is, it is about change. And change hurts. People resist it like crazy even when it's in their best interest. Kurt Lewin's force field theory is one of the many ways we have of understanding resistance to change.
And, because the change CPE offers the potential of is such a personal kind of change it can involve people revisiting some of the most personal and painful parts of their lives. For example, a person with a history of sexual abuse will have to revisit those experiences if he or she is going to be able to get to the point where he or she can minster to other abuse survivors without either closing his or herself off from the patient or, alternatively, becoming overwhelmed by feelings while talking with the patient. And who would want to revist such horrible experiences? No wonder people resist the authority of the CPE learning model!
The question, then, becomes how do you help students accept the authority of the learning model? My old rabbinical school teacher seemed to suggest that what's needed is kavod harav/כבוד הרב -- honor of the master or teacher. That is, she suggested that students must be more respectful of their teachers and submit to their authority.
But I think she had it all backwards. What's needed is not kavod harav, but kavod hatalmid/כבוד התלמיד -- honor of the student. That is, the teacher needs to honor the student. I don't mean giving the student everything he or she wants. I mean treating the student with an attitude of respect and service. I mean learning to love and accept the student as being made in the image of God and being able to feel compassion for them.
What kavod hatalmid does is create room for the student to find his or her way of accepting the authority of the process and the authority of the teacher/supervisor. That's when the learning can begin.