Clinical Pastoral Education

Formation for Reflective, Competent and Compassionate Practice.

Who we are

Thank you for your interest in learning more about us. We offer competency-based, transformative education designed to enhance the compassion offered by healthcare professionals, spiritual and religious caregivers, educators, counsellors and others who tend to people during key moments of the human experience. If you or your organisation provides any type of care for people facing sickness or death, danger or opportunity, loss or healing, change or growth, punishment or restoration or any other experience of disorientation, transition, pain or suffering – please read on.

Why Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)?

The CPE experience is designed to enhance self-awareness and compassion of caregiving professionals so that they can more effectively foster resilience and wellbeing in those they serve. The education methods used in CPE were developed in the 1920s and have been continually refined over the past century. There are few, if any, other courses which so effectively blend personal reflection, small group work, theoretical content and practical experience.

Our faculty

Photograph of Michael HertzMichael Hertz, BS, MDiv; Centre Director; ACPEWA CPE Educator; ACPE Certified Educator

"I supervised my first Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) student in San Francisco in 1991 and have been committed to excellence in my professional practice ever since. I maintain my US CPE qualification alongside my Australian CPE qualification. I do what I do because I see the results—deeply compassionate caregivers who are able to care for vulnerable people in a range of distressing situations. I ground my practice in deep understanding of human and personality development, group dynamics, ethics, reflective practice and spirituality—both secular and religious. I seek to create a stimulating and creative learning environment. My deepest satisfaction is witnessing professional development in my students, which I measure in terms of deepened awareness, heightened emotional and relational intelligence and increased capacity to offer compassionate care to people from diverse backgrounds."

Photograph of Helen VesterHelen Vester, B Tech(Hons), Grad Dip Ed, B Theol, MA (Theol Studies); ACPEWA CPE Educator

"I enjoy bringing my pastoral care experience in hospital and prison contexts to my role as a CPE Educator. I am passionate about walking with participants, offering a balance of affirmation, encouragement and challenge as they discover who they are as pastoral people. Within the classroom component of CPE I structure theory with reflection on practice and self, as well as a measure of fun, as we learn together."

Our courses

Course Formats

Each Royal Perth Hospital CPE course is based on a 400 hour curriculum comprised of 100 hours of group and individual supervision and instruction, 200 hours of professional practice and 100 hours of writing and personal reflection. We offer courses in variety of formats: full time (typically 10-12 weeks), intensive part time (typically 3-5 months) and extended part time (typically 5-6 months). Courses are scheduled at a variety of times to accommodate the needs of our students: weekdays, evenings and weekends.

Distance Learning – Regional Western Australia and Australasian Countries

We are committed to promoting reflective, competent and compassionate practice among Spiritual Care and other health professionals beyond Perth. Teaching seminars, group supervision and individual supervisory sessions are conducted via teleconference, and the 200 hours of practicum are completed at the student’s place of employment. In regional centres within a few hours of Perth, we can provide hybrid courses comprised of virtual and in-person sessions. Eligible students will need to provide a reliable internet connection and an approved on-site clinical supervisor at their practicum location. Contact us for more information or to express your interest in a distance learning opportunity.

The curriculum

Each course follows a detailed timetable beginning with a multi-day induction and concluding with a student-designed graduation ceremony. All necessary course materials are provided in a comprehensive student handbook. The curriculum is sequentially designed to pace the students’ learning and to incorporate content relevant to the emerging learning needs at each stage of the course. Students prepare and present a variety of patient encounter reports, reflection papers, literature reviews and pastoral rituals; they participate in frequent open groups to explore emerging issues of professional identity and practice, role-play seminars, individual supervisory sessions, and mid-term and final evaluations. A comprehensive timetable and student handbook is provided to each student at the beginning of the course.

The Bush Experience

Every Royal Perth CPE course includes a 3-day outdoor education experience led by experienced bush guides. This event is designed to deepen the relationships among the students and supervisors, develop teamwork and cohesion of the peer group, to learn from the natural environment with its millennia of accumulated wisdom related to life, growth, crisis, death and renewal and to apply the lessons learned to the compassionate care of people.

Course Theory

All aspects of the course are designed to facilitate students’ ability to understand, assess and respond to “spiritual distress”; simply stated, spiritual distress occurs when “the way things are is different that the way things are supposed to be.” Our students learn to identify the life-limiting agreements which lead to heightened spiritual distress in the face of crisis, and to offer compassionate interventions in a way which helps to reduce spiritual distress and facilitate healing.

Program Standards, Policies and Procedures

Along with CPE programs throughout Australia and New Zealand, the RPH CPE Centre adheres to a set of standards upon which our faculty and courses are accredited.

As a program of Royal Perth Hospital, the CPE Centre adheres to all relevant hospital and health department policies and procedures. In addition, the CPE Centre adheres to CPE policies and procedures (PDF 230KB).

More information

CPE in Western Australia, around Australia and internationally

Contact Us

Application information, forms and programs

Michael Hertz, Centre Director

Helen Vester, Educator

Pam Kodituwakku, Project Officer

Shenae Hunter, Administrative Assistant

Royal Perth Hospital
Wellington Street Campus
Level 3, L Block


9224 2482