A year and a half ago in Dallas, there was a report before the leadership of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education calling for a major restructuring in how the supervisors and and educators of chaplains are certified. In effect, the report said the certification process was broken. But the leadership rejected the report. Their main evidence for this position? That they had approved 87% of the people who went up for certification at the meeting.
Well, here we are not so many months later and I hear that at the latest ACPE convention only 10 out of 15 (67%) who went up for associate and only 6 out of 10 (60%) who went up for full were approved.
The idea that these kinds of numbers are acceptable in this day and age reflects a series of antiquated attitudes that threaten the very future of education in pastoral care. It is long past time for the ACPE leadership to wake up and face up to the fact the certification and education process for supervisors/educators has to be reformed to look something like what the rest of the world does, today. There was a time -- many decades ago now -- when people who went to medical or law school entered with the knowledge that they might "wash out" of the program. Those days are long past. Today's students -- who often go into deep debt in search of their education -- need a more predictable process. They need to know if they're going to be likely to finish, and they need to know how long that will take. Otherwise, quality talent will just not bother with seeking to become educators in pastoral care.