Behaviors of ACPE Candidates
Leading to Certification as
Associate Supervisors
Judith R. Ragsdale, M.Div., Ph.D.
ACPE Supervisor
May 8, 2015
This study seeks to further
develop a theory
for providing quality
ACPE Supervisory Education
The Need for a Theory
for Providing Quality
ACPE Supervisory Education
• Certified based on competence
supervising Level I and Level II CPE
• Another level of certification – currently
Research Method
Grounded Theory
Data collected via interview
Interview question
Member check
Current place in analysis
Coding Team
Charles Orme-Rogers
Johnny Bush
Rod Seeger
Sheryl Lyndes Stowman
Judy Ragsdale
• Study Participants
• Identified 15 key behaviors
• Behaviors are not in the order of
importance or chronology
• Many of the behaviors are woven in the
Candidate’s materials, DVD, and
committee appearance
Key Behavior 1
The Candidate describes CPE
students with such detail that
the students seem to be in the
Key Behavior 1
• Describing specific work with CPE student and
the impact on student’s care for a specific
• Describe process of CPE student, verbatim,
patient encounters of student
• Materials describe not just the CPE students, but
the people the students minister to
• Candidate's impact seen in change in CPE
student behavior from advice-giving to reflecting
Quote on Specific Descriptions
“It’s amazing how, in materials I have
read as a supervisor and as a
commissioner, people are general in their
description. They’re not specific. And
they tell people what they’ve done; they
don’t show.”
“They have to obtain the delicious details
of the encounter…It’s like bringing me
into the experience with them.”
Key Behavior 2
The Candidate sees and
describes underlying dynamics
informed by emotional
awareness and theoretical
Key Behavior 2
•Recognizes relationship patterns and
dynamics quickly
•Candidate unpacks a dynamic, for instance
by saying,
“Here's what happened, here's why,
here's what my best self would have done”
•Talks about how complex power dynamics context and relational - serve and hinder
Key Behavior 3
The Candidate guides CPE
students to access their affective
selves so that the CPE student
learns to respond to the affective
self of the patient
Key Behavior 3
• Teaches students to work with own emotions
triggered in patient care
• Helps students reflect on emotion in moment
and impact on patient care
• Helps student understand how what's going
on with self impacts relationship with patients
• Helps student understand parallel process
between student and patient occurs naturally,
and how to work with it
Key Behavior 4
The Candidate helps CPE
students claim their own cultures,
religions, ethnicities in order to
improve their spiritual care
Key Behavior 4
• Learns about students' theologies
• Makes racial and cultural dynamics part of
• Works with religious conservatives and liberals
with attention to the different perspectives
serving their learning
• Respects the student's world view; guides the
CPE student to provide spiritual care respectful
of the patient’s world view
Quote on Respecting the
Student's World View
“I would want the Candidate to be
helping their students to become much
more aware, conscious of the ways in
which their world view impacts the
manner in which they do spiritual care,
especially if they’re in the majority
Key Behavior 5
The Candidate focuses on
helping students acquire
professional pastoral identity,
competence, and integration
resulting in high quality pastoral
Key Behavior 5
• Guides student to bring new learning about self into ministry
• Observes student’s pastoral care behavior and offer feedback
about specific behavior
• Helps CPE students see how integration of their personal and
faith histories increases the effectiveness of their ministry with
• Written materials, DVD, conversation focus on CPE students’
learning, not healing
• Helps students articulate what they want to learn in context of
CPE outcomes, processes
• Refers to the student's learning goals regularly in the course
of supervision
Quote on Guiding CPE Student to
Bring New Self Awareness into
Ministry Practice
“I might say, ‘You gave an elegant description
of the student’s psychodynamic process and
that helped me gain some real insight into the
student and the struggles he or she had in the
learning process. But I was interested in
hearing how that insight helped you to
supervise their practice of ministry.’”
Quote on Guiding CPE Student to
Bring New Self Awareness into
Ministry Practice
“I think some of us can get distracted and sort
of absorbed in the psychological or the
sociological but the bottom line is, is the CPE
student developing his or her pastoral identity?
Is the CPE student developing his or her
competency as a spiritual caregiver?
Frankly, a lot of Candidates have a hard time
articulating that at the Associate level.”
Key Behavior 6
The Candidate assesses CPE
student's learning needs, gifts
and challenges for pastoral care
through the lenses of the
Candidate’s theories
Key Behavior 6
• Uses theory concepts specifically to assess what
the students’ learning needs are and to craft
appropriate interventions
• Shifts approach based on assessment in
response to opportunity presented in the
• Tells how she/he assesses the CPE student
when own lens is from one world view and
student’s lens is from another world view
Quote on Evaluations of CPE
“I’ll be looking at the Candidate’s
evaluation of the CPE students in terms
of whether the Candidate identifies their
strengths…their growing edges. Does the
Candidate really point out, in terms of
evaluating a student’s care giving, where
they see the strengths and growing
Key Behavior 7
The Candidate facilitates the
CPE student group’s ability to
explore its own observed
Key Behavior 7
• Guides group in CPE practices of process and
reflection based on group theory
• Creates atmosphere of trust informed by
understanding of students
• Group engages in connected conversation and if
not, the Candidate brings them back
• Identifies own emotions, self-supervises, references
theory, facilitates all students participating
• Intentional progression of interventions, change in
supervisory stance, as unit proceeds
Quote on Group Facilitation
“The DVD needs to demonstrate:
• the beginning and the ending of the particular
group so that I can see that the Candidate is
attending to the formation of that particular
• an active but not controlling participation of
the Candidate…
• that they have some awareness of the group
process and they’re not practicing individual
supervision in the group process…”
Key Behavior 8
The Candidate uses theory in
her/his own way rather than just
understanding concepts
Key Behavior 8
• Explains theory in terms understandable to a third
• Applies concepts to diverse situations, able to
amend when not working
• Describes limits one has experienced in one's
theory along with back-up plan
• Generates options based on theory
• What is happening in the room corresponds with
theory identified as one guiding practice
• Explains every aspect of curriculum in terms of
each theory
Quote on Showing Use of Theory
“If their writing style or something like that
has been something that has put me off a
little bit, when I watch the video, more
often than not, it’ll come together for me
what this person has been talking about.
I’ll be able to see their theory in their DVD
and in the commentary on the DVD…that
usually has been something that has sort
of raised their stock.”
Key Behavior 9
The Candidate makes
connections for students
between what the student is
being asked to do, the goals of
CPE, and the student’s own
Key Behavior 9
• Candidate helps new students understand and
use CPE
• Gives specific examples of program processes
designed to meet Level I and II outcomes
• Gears curriculum and teaching toward level and
type of group
Key Behavior 10
The Candidate describes how
her/his understanding of her/his
own strengths, limits, triggers,
personal history and culture
inform and hinder supervision
Key Behavior 10
• Candidate talks about how own and students'
emotions impact and inform her/his supervision
• Candidate describes being triggered by a
student, working with own emotions while also
considering options in supervision
• Evaluates own feelings, pain, reactivity to
assess how to care for self so can focus on
• Candidate has a process for working with her/his
own issues as they are evoked
Key Behavior 10
• Uses own story rather than reacting out of it
• Knows who is hard to supervise and how to
address that within oneself
• In an impasse, Candidate asks, “What part of
this difficulty is about me?”
• Works with own stuck places so can be available
for group
Key Behavior 11
The Candidate develops a
supervisory relationship that
teaches, models, witnesses,
empowers the CPE student to
do work of pastoral care and
interior terrain work
Key Behavior 11
• Builds alliance with their students out of a
compassionate engagement around learning
• Sets limits with students; teaching boundaries
• Appreciates students, invites rather than acts
• Guides students toward their inner knowledge
as opposed to pushing knowledge into them
• Listens well to students as a way of teaching
students to listen well to patients
Key Behavior 11
• Teaches students skill sets - listening, crisis
care, ability to hold conflict
• Gives students freedom to make mistakes
• Teaches students to do own self-supervision
• Invites CPE students to be curious and explore
behavior observed by self, Candidate, or peers
Quote on Supervisory Relationship
“The Candidate focused on what she had learned
about herself, how that fit with her own theoretical
frameworks and how those frameworks helped her
understand her own internal dynamics….she said:
‘Having gone through this myself gave me some
empathy and insight into my student with whom I
had some real tension and conflict. Here’s how I
used my own self, my own identity, and how I used
my theoretical frameworks to build, you know, a
stronger supervisory alliance with the student.’”
Key Behavior 12
The Candidate takes
responsibility to focus on
certification in the Committee,
not seek supervision
Key Behavior 12
• Manages anxiety enough to talk about own supervision
• Knows how to and is able to stop the process to reflect in
• Sits forward, makes eye contact, has open posture; uses
body language that communicates engagement
• Interacts relationally with committee members in
responding to questions
• Description of theory use and self understanding
mirrored in group DVD and in conversation with
• Transparent with the committee about recent life events
Key Behavior 12
• Connects whatever's happening in the committee to
supervision of students
• Relates with an attitude of mutual inquiry rather than
defensive, controlling
• Works with individual and group dynamics in the
• Engages the Committee in conversation; this is the
responsibility of the Candidate
• Here and now - being very present to the moment
Quote on Committee Appearance
“If a Candidate can engage around learning
issues in the committee comfortably and take a
new idea and pull it up alongside their own
theory, and you can kind of see the critical
purchase piece happening right there in the
committee, that’s very powerful…that’s what
you have to do with students…So, if they can
do it in a committee with another supervisor,
then I’m assuming they will be engaged in
doing that with their CPE students as well.”
Key Behavior 13
The Candidate shows confidence
to take a risk in supervising,
reflect on how it worked, and
discuss it in committee
Key Behavior 13
• Locus of authority for the Candidate is often
themselves, their experience
• Claims authority while respecting the authority of
another; i.e., “I do see how my theory worked; at
the same time, I can see how, from your
perspective, you don't see that.”
Quote on Supervisory Authority
“In sort of like a counterintuitive way, some
of being able to demonstrate supervisory
authority is being able to talk about what you
don’t know and where you struggle and
where you’re ambiguous as well as what
you do know and what is working.
And I think to do that in a group can be very
empowering for the Candidate and also
empowering for the student.”
Key Behavior 14
The Candidate fluidly, flexibly
draws on dimensions of theory,
practice, life story, faith, and
respect for diversity to supervise
and to describe her/his
Key Behavior 14
• Candidate's description of theory use and self
understanding mirrored in group DVD
• Develops personal and professional integration
in the service of supporting the supervisory
relationship and not getting in the way of
• Reflects by being self-critical about the
Candidate’s own work while also identifying
what they're good at
Key Behavior 14
• Easily moves between theory and
practice; i.e., offers examples of one's
supervision informed by theory, or the
theory informing practice
• Easily accesses both feeling and thinking;
i.e., describes own thinking and feeling
about whatever is being addressed in the
Quote on Respect for
Religious Diversity
“Can the Candidate enter into the world, the liberal
Candidate, can they enter into the world of a
fundamentalist student and help them articulate a
theology at the bedside that is appropriate for
them, rather than imposing a more liberal relational
point of view upon them?
Can they use the student’s own meaning making
abilities and their rules for meaning making in a
way that helps them relate to the other?”
Quote on Integrated Supervision
“And I would want them to, in their analysis
of that group, to be able to say,
‘When so and so said this, it really touched
me deeply and it moved me to a place that it angered me, and I had to really supervise
myself and I had to make use of my theory
in order to respond in this way to this
person, to this student. And then, I had to
go back and reflect upon this.’”
Key Behavior 15
The Candidate understands
his/her development as a
Supervisor is an on-going
Key Behavior 15
• Describes how her/his supervisory
approach is evolving based on work with
theory, and on learning from relationship
dynamics with students
• Describes hearing constructive criticism or
challenge, making sense of it for self,
using it
• Behaviors are hard to describe in a way
that captures animation – the spirit
breathing life into the practice
• Certain questions were not addressed
– how Candidates include multicultural
humility material in their curricula
– how Candidates help CPE students learn
to provide pastoral care for a wide variety
of faith traditions and practices
• High bar for Associate certification
• Focus SES educational processes on
developing, practicing these behaviors
• Help Candidates shift the focus from
themselves to their students
• Apply self-awareness to practice of
ministry (CPE students) and supervision
• To the Certification Commissioners who
participated so generously in this study.
• To Rod, Johnny, Sheryl and Chuck for their
wonderful work coding and discussing what
we were all seeing in these interviews.
• To Bill Scrivener, Sr. Director of Pastoral
Care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, for
supporting this research and the time it
Questions? Comments?
Thank you too
for your interest and attention!