For Seminarians and Clergy

Seminarians and clergy are often unprepared to provide spiritual care to individuals with chronic disease and/or nearing the end of life because this training is largely missing from seminary education.

Research evidence:

  • From clergy
    • Although 94 percent of clergy report making visits to people at the end of life, only 60 percent are very comfortable making these visits. (Source: “Questions and Answers about Americans’ Religion,” Gallup 2007)
    • Two out of three clergy indicate a desire to receive and provide education around to tend to the seriously ill or dying. (Source: Duke Institute on Care at the End-of-Life survey, 2007)
  • From those they serve
    • 83 percent of survey respondents indicated that their faith would be most important to them in facing long-term illness and end of life. (Source: Faith & Health Care, Transforming Lives and Communities through Health and Wellness – One Person at a Time, Henry Ford Health System, 2012)
    • Almost 70 percent of patients felt their spiritual leaders were not prepared at all or very little to help them face the practical issues surrounding death. (Source: Ibid)
    • 72 percent of patients said their spiritual needs were minimally or not at all supported by the medical system even though spiritual support was highly associated with quality of life. (Source: Ibid)
    • 42 percent of those facing life terminating illness report little or no support of spiritual needs from their religious community. (Source: Balboni TA 2007, 25.555ff).

We can help! provides pastoral education that is specially geared to meet the needs of seminarians, clergy and community lay leaders. offers Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) built around convenience and accessibility. With, you can obtain much of your training online—from wherever you are. Enrolling in one or more of our CPE units that focus on the needs of seminarians, clergy, and community lay leaders will provide you with an opportunity to learn conceptual understandings based on the behavioral sciences, as well as gain hands-on experience engaging individuals in need of spiritual care, relevant to your ministerial work.

As a student, you will fulfill your educational hours online through Interactive Distance Learning courses and live video conferencing, and obtain your required clinical spiritual care hours on site at a designated location. For example, a house of worship can be a site for clinical training; this will enable some students to take a unit while simultaneously serving their parish or congregation. units for seminarians, clergy, and community lay leaders include:

  • Interactive Distance Learning online courses specifically addressing the needs of seminarians, clergy, and community lay leaders, such as
    • Powerful Communication Techniques
    • More Than Listening: Counseling Skills
    • Living With Heartbreak: Working With Grief
    • The Challenge of Memory: Alzheimer's and other Dementias
    • Far Too Soon: The Anguish of Perinatal Loss
    • When It's Time to Say Goodbye: End of Life and Palliative Care
  • Student presentations of case studies (“verbatims”) to hone your active listening skills
  • Theological reflections as related to spiritual care
  • Group processing time to provide support and emotional awareness
  • Group dynamics as a tool to understand how groups and systems function in parish settings
  • Time regularly set aside for individual consultation with the supervisor to explore aspects of ministry relating to spiritual care for clergy
  • On-site clinical training, with the ability to use your own house of worship to fulfill the required clinical hours.

Please indicate in your application that you would like to enroll in the unit for seminarians, clergy, and community lay leaders.

With the appropriate training, you will be able to make major contributions to the health care system, primarily contributing to the welfare of your congregants and ensuring they receive the care that is consistent with their values and beliefs. You will be able to become true members of the health care team across the continuum of care—a vital need especially as we witness the value of spiritual care increasing in health care and other settings.

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