Pastoral Report Articles 

  • 01 Feb 2018 7:17 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    At the recent meeting of COMISS in Washington, DC, David Roth and I discussed at length the signs of strife amongst the various chaplaincy organizations, and attempted to imagine together what new constructs might be introduced that would have some prospect of assuaging some of the rivalry and animus that attended the differences among the various chaplaincy and pastoral care and counseling groups. David and I came to the conclusion that a way to begin might be to recognize that each tradition has its own way of functioning, and its own idiosyncratic goals and values. Furthermore, we concluded that such differing goals should be acknowledged and accepted without derogation. In the broad field of chaplaincy, pastoral care and counseling there should be no “one size fits all” approach. After reflecting on our COMISS conversations, I present the following proposal for a possible reframing of the ways we think about the respective work of the various chaplaincy, pastoral care and counseling traditions. I invite others to join this conversation. 


    Level 1:

    A wide variety of institutions, organizations and clubs appoint or elect “chaplains.” For example, Congress has its own Chaplain. Police departments typically have one or more chaplains. Social clubs often appoint or elect chaplains. Generally in such contexts, the role is detached from any particular religious tradition. The role is largely a formal one, but not extensive nor with many defined tasks. Typically the duties consist only of opening meetings with a prayer or some form of invocation. In rare instances the role may extend to attending a crisis situation with the purpose of providing some kind of comfort. Seldom if ever is there any sort of training for such a role. 

    Level 2:

    A second level of chaplaincy, typically more finely defined as pastoral functioning, posits that the chaplain or pastor assumes a professional role. That role typically carries the additional label of “pastoral care” and/or more recently, “spiritual care.” In many but not all instances this role is considered a clinical one, that is, attending to and focusing on the data at hand as distinct from ideological concerns. The clinician as clinician always begins not from a position of theory or ideology, but by responding to the presenting data.

    Such clinical chaplaincy and the clinical pastoral arena generally owns a large corpus of literature and typically includes a significant training regimen. The quality of training at this level may or may not have some

    resemblance to social work training and/or psychotherapy training, depending on the focus and intensity of the training itself. 

    As distinct from the clinical posture, this level of training may also involve training in specific religious practices and doctrines to be introduced into the work of caring for persons. For example, there are Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim associations for pastoral care and/or chaplaincy. While there is or should be a clear disconnect between the clinical and the promotion of specific religious practices, this distinction is not always adhered to in practice. Some chaplains attempt to straddle the clinical and the specifically programmatically religious agenda. 

    At this level of chaplaincy the role of the chaplain is typically a broad spectrum one, and may involve a complex mix of clinical care and  counseling along side religious rites and rituals. In specifically religious hospitals, for example, we will find a predominance of chaplains from the religious group that owns the hospital. Chaplaincy at this level is generally seen as promoting religion of one sort or another and consequently tends to dilute or even nullify the clinical dimension of care. Such chaplaincy becomes complicated when, as often occurs, the patient and chaplain subscribe to widely differing religious traditions from that of the institution itself. This level of chaplaincy is exemplified generally in certifying organizations such as Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). The Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) sees itself as a proponent of this perspective.

    In this level of chaplaincy, the training regimen for chaplains is generally seen as “education” for “students.” The largest training institution for this level of training at present is the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).

    Level 3:

    A third level of chaplaincy is a specialization level extending beyond level 2. This level of chaplaincy posits the chaplain as a religiously-based - generically speaking - pastoral counselor and/or pastoral psychotherapist, but one who does not promote any particular religious sect. In this philosophy of chaplaincy the overt religious doctrines and various religious philosophies fall into the background, and the chaplain assumes a universalist posture. In this approach to chaplaincy the patient will not be aware, optimally, of what particular religious tradition the chaplain subscribes to, if any. This approach to chaplaincy, or pastoral care, gives attention solely to the patient and the patient’s predicament. Listening to the patient and attempting to reach a pastoral diagnosis, and to offer a therapeutic relationship is the principle burden of the chaplain. Such a pastoral diagnosis will transcend the doctrines of any particular religious tradition and function on a universalist level. The focus of attention is entirely on the patient. The training of chaplains in this modality is generally referred to as “clinical pastoral training,” following the medical model, as opposed to “education,” following the academic model.

    This approach to chaplaincy follows the philosophy and practice of Anton T. Boisen, who instituted clinical pastoral training early in the twentieth century. Boisen presented himself as a non-medical pastoral psychotherapist in the general tradition of Sigmund Freud. This level of chaplaincy is generally represented by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP).


    Raymond J. Lawrence
    CPSP General Secretary

  • 29 Jan 2018 9:18 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Editor's Note: As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who with great courage, dignity and wisdom, fought against racism and its destructive forces on humanity, I encourage you to listen to this interview with Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Listening to this interview, I hope will warm your heart with human compassion, as well as pierce your heart knowing the pain racism has inflicted. 

    Perry Miller, Editor 

  • 28 Dec 2017 11:55 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)
    During this holiday season, don't forget to give yourself the gift of attending the 2018 CPSP Plenary!

    This will be a CPSP gathering unlike any before! AND we have just extended the special, low Early Bird and Justice Initiative rates one more week so you can take advantage of these savings. 

    Here are just 10 reasons to attend:

    1. Located between Berkeley and Oakland, Emeryville, California, is on the shores of San Francisco Bay. We have a special rate of $139/night (single or double) at the Hilton Garden Inn if you book by March 3. Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are both close by and both have affordable public transportation to the hotel. 

    2. Dynamic Speakers and Authors including Pamela Cooper-White, Kerry Egan, and Gordon Hilsman.

    Pamela Cooper-White is the widely-published Professor of Psychology and Religion at Union Theological Seminary. She will be talking about "Shared Wisdom" on Sunday afternoon. 

    Hospice chaplain Kerry Egan's  book, On Living, was published last year to wide acclaim. She will be speaking on Monday afternoon.  

    Gordon J. Hilsman is a board certified chaplain and CPE supervisor with over 40 years' experience in hospital, addiction treatment, mental health and hospice settings. The author of Spiritual Care in Common Terms, he will conduct a practical workshop on charting for clinical chaplains.  



    3. Book signings by Cooper-White, Egan, Hilsman, and also Raymond Lawrence whose new book Recovery of Soul is a history and memoir of the clinical pastoral movement. (Click on the book covers, above, for more information.)

    4. Music by The Threshold Choir, an international organization of choral performers who sing for those at the thresholds of life. 

    5.  NBA champion Golden State Warriors play the Sacramento Kings on Friday, March 16, the evening before Plenary. Tickets are limited but still available.

    6. Two-time Grammy-nominated bluesman and gospel artist (and chaplain) John Lee Hooker, Jr, and his band will perform for us on Tuesday night.

     7.  On the evening of St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, there will be an hourly shuttle between the hotel and historic Bill McNally's, Oakland's hottest Irish pub

    8.  Saturday sightseeing will include the San Francisco Bay Ferry from Fisherman's Wharf to tour Alcatraz Island the Maritime National Historical Park at Hyde Street Pier, and other attractions. Also, Plenary staff will be available to assist attendees who wish to meet as a chapter or want to take in the local sights. 

    9. Workshop topics include Ethics for CPSP Chaplains, Trauma Chaplaincy, The Chaplain's Role in the Physician-assisted "End of Life Option," and more.

    10. An opportunity to meet and get to know colleagues from around the country and the world, to rekindle old friendships, and to participate in small group sessions with case supervision are always Plenary highlights!

    Don't wait. Register NOW.

  • 25 Dec 2017 9:02 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)
    A friend spoke of her husband's battle with kidney disease and her fighting red tape to get help. The process sounded mechanical. They told her if his papers were in order he would be  eligible for medical assistance; if not, then he would need to met their criteria. Sounded to me like starting a car in cold weather. You need an good battery or a tow. 

    How much of healthcare has become that way? And perhaps getting other types of assistance? We need the right paperwork to get the wheels moving. Those of us needing help must wait for a computer output that will be forthcoming only if every dot and tittle's correct on the input. Meanwhile, my friend scrambles to get the right input as her husband suffers. 

    She is intelligent, tenacious, and resourceful, and so I'm confident she'll get it right. Let's hope that others less endowed with these qualities can obtain the expert help they need with their paperwork. 

    As chaplains, we do advocate for those in need where we can. In a larger sense, we can also 1) assure those we cannot help that humans are still in charge, 2) loosen the criteria that deny help where we can, and thereby 3) keep the machines in their place. Those three objectives would be fine holiday gifts that will last all year long. 


    Dominic Fuccillo is a retired Clinical Chaplain who lives in Littleton, Colorado.

  • 12 Dec 2017 11:49 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    “The century-long clinical pastoral movement sparked by Anton Boisen was and continues to be a long struggle to implement ethical and effective therapeutic approaches for working with suffering people, particularly those suffering mostly in their minds. Boisen himself learned from Freud … that a disordered mind, at least in some cases, was the result of a struggle to find integration in the face of powerful internal conflicts.”1

     “Any reader might be puzzled by the recurring centrality of sexual issues in the history of the century-old clinical pastoral movement. …

    The clinical pastoral movement, like Sigmund Freud, simply brought the issue out of the closet and into the light of day, at least in its early decades. …

    Therefore, let it be said loud and clear, that the clinical pastoral movement is not an outlier in its peculiar helter-skelter history of attempting to sort out virtue from vice in the sexual arena.” 2

    Recovery of Soul … merits inclusion in “The Great Books of Clinical Pastoral Chaplaincy”. You need to read it – along with Raymond’s other three books.3 Some years ago, Perry Miller, Raymond Lawrence, and I co-authored “Discrete Varieties of Care in the Clinical Pastoral Tradition”.4 That, too, still makes for good reading. In our editing, Perry and I were wise enough to retain Raymond’s unique verbiage, as he has a great way with words. That’s a point I want to emphasize – that Raymond’s rhetorical/ pedagogical style connects with the reader. He makes a fairly objective assessment of a situation – then adds a last phrase that tells us his real opinion about what he just wrote. Yes, the book is Pure Raymond. It is sort of like there is a “snarky Raymond” rendering the last word about what “academic Raymond” wrote. The method works.

    Classic guidance for preachers says, “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you told ‘em”. A colleague’s foreword to Recovery of Soul … warns that Raymond “pulls no punches,” “acknowledges all our brokenness,” yet “points out the redemptive power of love” – and that he “does not suffer fools lightly” but “acknowledges that he, too, has worn the foolscap”. Raymond himself provides a preface about his main trusted historical sources plus a prologue about grasping the clinical pastoral task. Thirty-one pithy chapters either set stages or ruminate over the works and quirks of Anton Boisen, Helen Flanders Dunbar, Seward Hiltner, Russell Dicks, Wilhelm Reich, Armen Jorjorian, George Buck, Joan Hemingway, Donald Capps, Myron Madden, and Wayne Oates – with Raymond’s own story tossed in – weaving the history of professional chaplaincy around these bits of real lives in real contexts.

    Raymond devotes a specific chapter to “The Creation of The College of Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP)” in 1990. “Creation” indeed is the right word. The chapter includes a copy of the short but powerful CPSP “Covenant”—which is well worth digesting. Take a close look at it. CPSP, as “a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to ‘Recovery of Soul’,” took a shape and form that definitely was something new in the clinical pastoral world. As Raymond notes, “unbeknownst to us at the time, we were reenacting history. By the seat of our pants we were reasserting the philosophy and values of Anton Boisen and Helen Flanders Dunbar”. All became clearer starting around 1999.

    Another chapter lists “10 axioms … for guidance in assessing and adjudicating alleged sexual violations by clergy”.

    Raymond’s final chapter – “Last Words” – provides a clear, logical, and convincing summary of his wide-ranging argument about the conflicting forces that drove the field to where it is now. If nothing else, read the last chapter – but you really should read the whole book. Actually, let me suggest a course of reading that honors the “complex, accursed, and redemptive” story, as Raymond phrases it, of how clinical pastoral chaplaincy developed over the last 100 years. 7

    Read Recover of Soul … now, but, if you get the chance, go back and read, in order,
    first my writings (with the story starting around 1906),
    then Allison Stokes’ book (focusing on the 1940s and 1950s),
    then Edward Thornton’s book (overviewing all through the 1960s), then Raymond’s new book again plus maybe his three previous books. 8

    Powell’s, Stokes’s, and Thornton’s studies of the movement are more academic, by design, but Raymond’s is both more insightful and more of a joy to read.

    As soon as the planned new editions of Boisen’s books come out, read those, too. You won’t at all regret that decision. You will be amazed at the depth of Boisen’s thinking.

    The Exploration of the Inner World: A Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience (1936);
    Religion in Crisis and Custom {A Sociological Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience} (1955);
    Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience (1960). 9

    Let me repeat: “If nothing else, read the last chapter” of Recovery of Soul …. It should become a common reading for anyone involved in clinical pastoral chaplaincy. “That [Freud-Boisen-Dunbar] thesis asserts that healing comes when an intelligent and informed pastoral person listens carefully and mostly silently to the accounts of a suffering person. And in that listening always keeping the unconscious and its perverse and unpredictable ways clearly in view – at least in the corner of the eye – and observing whatever connections can be made that might promote healing. … And we must add, supplemented by attention to community building, a calling in which religious communities have historically demonstrated some expertise.” 10

    1. Recovery of Soul …, p.176. It should be noted that Boisen himself called for the recovery of zeal, inner experience, and faith – for a “living fellowship with a certain body of beliefs in which there is room for growth and for discovery”. Boisen AT. Religion in Crisis and Custom …. (1955); pp.232, 237.

    2. Recovery of Soul …, pp.175-176.

    3. Lawrence RJ. Nine Clinical Cases: The Soul of Pastoral Care and Counseling (2015).
    Lawrence RJ. Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom. (2007).
    Lawrence RJ. The Poisoning of Eros: Sexual Values in Conflict. (1989). All are available on Amazon. If possible, read the books in the order of their publication.

    4. Miller PN, Lawrence RJ, Powell RC. “Discrete Varieties of Care in the Clinical Pastoral Tradition.” J Pastoral Care Counsel. 2003 Summer;57(2):111-6; re pastoral care, counseling, & psychotherapy; abstract:; full text:

    5. Taking a look at the following examples of “academic” comments followed by “snarky” comments, note that they almost constitute a concise summary of the entire book.

    p.6. “… he abandoned French [literature] altogether and began majoring in forestry. The sexuality of trees would not disturb his psyche.”

    p.8. “… Boisen never had any psychoanalytic treatment subsequently. (Of course, neither did Freud have any psychoanalytic treatment! It seems that the only real treatment for either man was what he gave himself.)”

    p.22. “… the battle was over the question of the role of the pastor, whether pastors were going to be psychoanalytically oriented therapists in their own rights or adjuncts to the real therapists, the physicians. This ongoing dispute could by now be called another Hundred Years War.”

    p.31. “Kinsey could have walked over to Boisen’s childhood home. The ghosts there might have told him a lot about sex.”

    p.31. “… Hiltner deserves great credit for a willingness to face the sexual music publicly as a prominent religious leader and scholar. Apparently, no one else had such nerve.”

    p.48. “… he could talk for hours about the wonder of dialogue but was completely inept at engaging in it.”

    p.69. “The following pages will elaborate on some of the evidence of this developing state of affairs – or should we say, this developing crisis.”

    p.81. “My colleagues seemed quite delighted with the change [toward diversity] …. After all, what could be more boring than working exclusively with Protestant heterosexual males?”

    p.83. “… now that they [women] were included they found passivity at the helm. Passivity is worse than hostility.”

    pp.88-89. “… some of the most vicious women in their dealings with strong heterosexual males were themselves proponents of a liberated sexuality ….  The times were crazy-making.”

    p.112. “They had found something life giving in this connection to Anton Boisen and Sigmund Freud. But while they were followers of Boisen, he was not leading.”

    p.140. “Their hearts were in the right place, but their brains were obviously in neutral.”

    p.170. “… she too is theologically untrained, and it shows.”
    My point, again, is a “snarky” comment seems to help one to remember the more “academic” comment.

    6. Recovery of Soul …, pp.155-156.

    7. Recovery of Soul …, p.xx.

    8. Revised and updated editions of my main writings – each with extensive new documentation – are to be published in the next year or so.
    Powell RC. C.P.E. [Clinical Pastoral Education]: Fifty Years of Learning, through Supervised Encounter with “Living Human Documents” (1975); the initial print run was for 10,000 copies; reviewed in J. Pastoral Care. 1982;36(3):210; reprinted, 1987; translated into Spanish, 2009, by Chaplain [Maria] Magdalena Garcia [Orozco], at the request of Chaplain [Romulo] Esteban Montilla as Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE): Cincuenta Años de Aprendizaje: A través del Encuentro Supervisado con Documentos Humanos Vivos.

    Powell RC. “Questions from the Past (on the Future of Clinical Pastoral Education)”. [ACPE] Conference Proceedings: 1-21, 1976.

    Powell RC. Anton T. Boisen (1876-1965): “Breaking an Opening in the Wall between Religion and Medicine”. AMHC Forum 29(1), supplement, 1976; the initial print run was for 2,000 copies; reviewed in J. Pastoral Care. 1982;36(3):209.

    Powell RC. “Anton T. Boisen's ‘Psychiatric Examination: Content of Thought’ (c.1925-31): An Attempt to Grasp the Meaning of Mental Disorder.” original version: Psychiatry 40: 369-375, 1977; abstract on the internet at

    Powell RC. “Empirical Theology, 1916-1946: A Note on the Contribution of Anton T. Boisen.” original version: Chicago Theological Seminary Register 67: 1-11, 1977.

    Powell RC. “Whatever Happened to ‘CPE’ – Clinical Pastoral Education?” 1999; original version on the internet at (an update on “Questions ….”)

    Powell RC. “Emotionally, Soulfully, Spiritually ‘Free to Think and Act’.” original version: Journal of Religion& Health 40(1): 97-114, 2001; original version on the internet at .

    Powell RC. “Religion in Crisis and Custom: Formation and Transformation – Discovery and Recovery – of Spirit and Soul.” original version on the internet at ; translated into Spanish, 2011, by Chaplains Rafael Hiraldo Román & Jesús Rodríguez Sánchez, with the assistance of Chaplain R. Esteban Montilla, as “Religión en Crisis y en Costumbre: Formación y Transformación - Descubrimiento y Recuperación - de Espíritu y Alma”; on the internet at  .)

    Powell RC. “Anton Theophilus Boisen (1987-1965), Clinician.
    I.   Assessment:  Persistent and Provocative ‘Co-operative Inquiry’: Empathic and Enlightening ‘Exploration of the Inner World’.

    II. Therapy:  Patient and Creative ‘Co-operative Interpretation’: ‘Thinking and Feeling Strongly Together about Things that Matter Most’.” 2012. to be published.

    Stokes A. Ministry After Freud (1985). A new edition is forthcoming.

    Thornton E. Professional Education for Ministry: A History of Clinical Pastoral Education (1970). For an appreciation of how Thornton’s insightfully conflicted thinking about the primacy of “clinical pastoral transformation” presaged, in a way, the controversy leading to the founding of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, see Powell RC. “Discerning Spirituality in Everyday Life – and Allowing Oneself to Be Transformed.” 2008; on the internet at

    9. See . Each of these will be cleanly composed editions, with scholarly introductions, forewords, and afterwords.

    10. Recovery of Soul …, pp.181-182.

    Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD

    Editor's Note: Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD, is the leading historian of the clinical pastoral movement. Many of his published writings are posted on the Pastoral Report. Readers can use the search field, located in the upper right corner of the website, to locate his articles. As a practicing psychiatrist, his writings reflect his daily investment in his clinical practice of providing psychotherapy and care to his patients. Contact Dr. Powell by clicking his name, above. -- Perry Miller, Editor

  • 05 Dec 2017 3:05 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The current campaign to denigrate Muslims on the grounds that some Muslims have turned violent is reminiscent of the Nazi pogrom against the Jews. We must do all in our power to neutralize this perverse and irrational campaign. In fact Islam is a religion of peace just as is Christianity. 

    At times in history Muslims have shown themselves to be even more generous and peaceable than Christians. In the time of  the Crusades, for example, Muslims often responded more peaceably under stress than the thuggish Crusaders who were invading the Middle East. 

    The fact is that every religion harbors murderously violent persons such as those Muslims who brought down the World Trade Center. Christianity is no exception to such aberrations. 

    Current attacks on Islam itself and on Muslims in general must be neutralized by us by every means possible. Every Muslim in this country surely now feels like the United States is increasingly an inhospitable place to live. We are called upon to reassert hospitality to our Muslim brothers and sisters in our respective communities.

    And we are called upon do all in our power to embrace our Muslim colleagues in the CPSP community, and to express our solidarity with them. Anything less would be a betrayal of all that we stand for. 

    This incipient war of Christians against Muslims is a despicable development in our country that must be neutralized to the extent that we are able by compassion and support of the Muslim communities in our midst from all members of the CPSP community.

    Raymond J. Lawrence
    General Secretary 

  • 01 Dec 2017 11:04 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    A history and memoir of the clinical pastoral movement by a key leader is the first book published by the newly launched CPSP Press.

    "Recovery of Soul" by CPSP founder and general secretary Raymond Lawrence offers a critical and often personal take on the movement that has given us modern day chaplaincy and clinical pastoral education. Written from the vantage point of an insider with a half-century of experience, the book offers an unvarnished and penetrating look at the movement from its beginning by Anton T. Boisen in the early 20th century.

    The book is available now on and will soon be available at​

    CPSP Press is committed to bringing into print a small list of significant new books as well as reprints of out-of-print titles of importance in the clinical pastoral field. David Roth serves as its general editor and publisher.

    "For many years we talked about creating a CPSP publishing house. At long last it has become a reality," said CPSP founding member and leader Perry Miller. 

    The announcement of future CPSP Press titles is expected at the CPSP Plenary in Oakland, CA, in March 2018, when two books by Boisen will appear in new editions under the Verbum Icon imprint.

  • 29 Nov 2017 7:22 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The following is a brief excerpt from the 90-minute seminar I presented in 2012 in Malibu and in 2015 in Chicago on “Anton Boisen (1876-1965): Clinician”:

    “The Rev. Dr. Anton Theophilus Boisen (1876-1965), according to a recent book, ‘was not at all interested in psychotherapy …’. [Myers-Shirk SE. Helping the Good Shepherd: Pastoral Counselors in a Psychotherapeutic Culture: 1925-1975. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. p.30]. How anyone could have studied Boisen’s writings and come to such an erroneous conclusion I do not know. Boisen definitely was interested in psychotherapy. That being said, neither I nor anyone else, apparently, directly has portrayed Boisen in his role as a clinician.”

    “One part of the problem, of course, is that Boisen already is viewed as a sociologist/ psychologist of religion, as a theologian/ psychiatric investigator – not to mention as a language-teacher/ translator/ forester.  Another part of the problem is that Boisen believed in treating ‘official’ patients and novice theologs in the same manner. He believed in trying to point those who were suffering, bewildered, or vulnerable – for whatever reason – in the right direction – in fact, in trying to get them to aim high – but he was not going to do the work for them or to hand them ready-made answers.  Becoming one’s best as a clinical pastoral chaplain was an individual task, albeit one that benefited the entire world. Too many would-be clinical pastoral chaplains, he believed, wanted ‘to be told at once what to do’ – and wanted ‘rules of procedures … [to] apply’. He believed they should discover for themselves the meaning of the different forms of illness and that psychotherapy depended less on technique than on caring relationships between people. [Boisen, Exploration of the Inner World, pp.239, 240] Boisen did not try teaching psychotherapy per se; he did try encouraging 

     genuine interest in     

    the patient and his [or her] problems

    – as well as [in]   

    the discovery and solving of    

    the patient’s actual difficulties

    [Boisen, The Exploration of the Inner World (1936), p.245]


    Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD

    Editor's Note: Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD, is the leading historian of the clinical pastoral movement. Many of his published writings are posted on the Pastoral Report. Readers can use the search field, located in the upper right corner of the website, to locate his articles. As a practicing psychiatrist, his writings reflect his daily investment in his clinical practice of providing psychotherapy and care to his patients. Contact Dr. Powell by clicking his name, above. -- Perry Miller, Editor

  • 21 Nov 2017 6:47 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)
    Katie Boner was named President-Elect of the Utah Hospice and Palliative Organization at its two-day annual annual conference on November 8. 

    She is the first chaplain to be selected for the top leadership role in the organization whose membership includes nurses, physicians, social workers and others in the specialty organization devoted to alleviating suffering and providing end-of-life care. 

    Boner is a board certified clinical chaplain and pastoral counselor, a member of the Salt Lake Avenues Chapter of CPSP, and serves at OneCare Home Health and Hospice in Draper, UT.

    Katie Boner

  • 15 Nov 2017 8:37 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The NCTS event held November 6-7, 2017, was designed for supervisors-in-training, pastoral counselors, psychotherapists, CPE interns and residents, clinical chaplains, and CPE training supervisors to examine behaviors and practices as it relates to living in a world turned upside down by political, cultural, racial and social change.  As care givers, trainers and supervisors in institutional and congregational settings the CPSP membership were invited to examine our use and understanding of authority, leadership and meaning in a world of radical change.  Guest presenters from the A.K. Rice Institute included Howard A. Friedman, PhD, Frank Marrocco, PhD, and Kimberley A. Turner, PhD, M.Div.  While exploring the unconscious life of social systems was the primary focus of this year’s gathering, particular attention was given to engaging the unconscious and covert processes in group and organizational life; the dynamics of authority and authorization; power and other differences within and among diverse groups; and the group processes of negotiation and interpretation to facilitate collaborative learning.

    I imagine that the learning varied among individuals, as well as, among the different groups.  For me, this event’s learning surpassed that of any of the previous ones I have attended. This time, it had more to do with me being better able to know and claim my own identity and authority as opposed to previous times when I may have quickly agreed with a group in order to belong.  Here is how I understand my unconscious process.  I spent the majority of my professional life as part of a professional culture that practically demanded compliance in order to be successful. Selection for promotions and positions were based on a perceived common value and divergence was not tolerated inside the structure. It has had a profound effect on how I see the world and how I engage the professional world around me.  Then, I understood power as hierarchically formed in a system in which people and positions are arranged according to their importance and perceived value.  Today, when I consider cultural differences and individuation it gives rise to creating new understandings and in some cases, some misunderstandings. New understandings and misunderstandings makes it difficult to hold boundaries established in a context of conformity; it makes the world appear up-side down.

    NASA astronauts train for the challenges of living and working in space. They become accustomed to the effects of weightlessness and often work up-side-down in and out of the space station. Astronaut Scott Kelly now officially holds the record for the longest consecutive amount of time spent in space by an American astronaut.   He spent a total of 342 days on the International Space Station before returning to earth.  Unlike astronauts, we don’t train for living in an up-side-down world. Perhaps we should.  Drs. Friedman, Marrocco, and Turner successfully created a training environment that simulated a world turned up-side-down. There were no clear levels of power and no structures to promote boundary setting. But the groups soon began to create boundaries based on the cues that were being transmitted and interpreted internally. It didn’t take long before groups formed around ideological likenesses and in some cases dislikes. Even at the invitation to break free of a group boundary to form a different boundary, groups were reluctant to do so. Without exception, the values that the groups initially formed around remained the values that held the group together.

    Scott Kelly is no longer in space so he doesn’t exercise on a treadmill turned upside down.  I imagine he, like me, will never see the world the same again.  Good teachers understand the power of altered perspective. Perhaps ours is first and foremost a profession about teaching others to embrace versions of a world up-side-down to show how it can be understood by exploring the different connections between people, culture and society.


    The Reverend Dr. George Akins, Jr., is a recently credentialed Diplomate Supervisor in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. He is also credentialed as a Clinical Chaplain and as a Pastoral Counselor at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, Trenton, New Jersey.  Reverend Akins is an ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ and currently serves as senior pastor at the Refuge Temple Church in Englewood, New Jersey. He earned a Doctorate of Ministry from Drew University, a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Masters of Science in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He spent over 26 years in the US Army as a communications officer and as a program manager for new systems acquisition.

    He enjoys his pastime riding his Yamaha V-Star Cruiser or in the cockpit of the flying club airplane. He and his wife, Lisa, parent three adult children and three grandchildren who live in Henderson, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee and Manassas, Virginia.