Clinical Pastoral Education

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Welcome to the Centre for Clinical Pastoral Education at the Royal Perth Bentley Group (RPBG). We are Australia’s ONLY Independent Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Centre, a status which allows us to draw upon best practices from around the world including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the USA.

With our history dating back to 1975, strong professional networks, national recognition and an international reputation, RPBG offers a world-class education experience. We are Western Australia’s only institutionally based and WA Government-funded program.

Most CPE Centres in Australia are registered with their state-based CPE Association.  We have chosen to conduct our courses under the auspices of the Royal Perth Bentley Group and its governing body — East Metropolitan Health Service. There are benefits and disadvantages to these two forms of governance. 

Our independence allows us flexibility to customise our education programs to better meet the needs of individual students and the diverse sectors in which they work.  The courses we offer meet or exceed the requirements set forth by most Australian and international CPE associations.  The major disadvantage is for those students who wish to go on to a career as a Clinical Pastoral Educator.  Our partnership with an interstate CPE Centre is currently making it possible for a member of our faculty to complete the required training.  Please contact us if you are interested in becoming an educator in CPE.

For those students who do not necessarily need their credit to be registered but who seek the best possible preparation for a Wellbeing and Spiritual Care career in any sector, our CPE program will meet, and likely exceed, their own and their employer’s or sponsor’s expectations. Please contact us and we will help you determine if this option is right for you.

What our graduates and community partners want you to know:

Photograph of Louis Malzer

"The independent status of the RPBG CPE Centre was not an issue for me. I learned so much over the three-month course that I am confident I will be a strong candidate for any Wellbeing or Spiritual Care position to which I will apply."

- Louis Malzer, Graduate 2023.




Photograph of David Bradbury


“I was impressed by how our Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) Chaplains matured during their six-month Clinical Pastoral Education course, and the positivity that has manifested in their roles and consequently our Fortescue family since. I believe the RPBG CPE Course is an excellent way to upskill and develop any chaplain - particularly those working in mining and other Industrial sectors. The course would also be highly relevant for leaders who are committed to improving the wellbeing of their teammates, and for anyone whose role includes working with people experiencing the distress and joys of career and personal life."

- David Bradbury, Fortescue Pastoral Care - Group Chaplain, Fortescue Metals Group Limited.



Our partnership with the Banyule CPE Centre in Victoria addresses the needs of those students' requiring registration of their CPE credit with an Australian CPE association. These students fulfil their classroom hours online while their individual supervision and clinical practice requirements are completed at one of our hospital campuses. Please contact us for further information.

There are few, if any, education experiences which so effectively integrate personal and small group reflection, theoretical content and practical experience. CPE is designed to enhance self-awareness and compassion for professionals who care for, lead or teach others so that they can more effectively foster resilience and wellbeing - in those they serve as well as in themselves. The education methods used in CPE were developed in the 1920s and have been continually refined over the past century. The course is appropriate for those of any worldview or affiliation - spiritual, religious, philosophical or secular.

Our CPE courses are based on a 400-hour curriculum comprised of 100 hours of group and individual supervision/instruction, and *300 hours of practicum. We offer courses in variety of formats: full time (typically 10-12 weeks, M-F 8:30am-4:30pm) and part time (typically 4-6 months, 1-3 days per week). Courses are scheduled at a variety of times to accommodate the needs of our students— weekdays, evenings and weekends (evenings and weekends require a slightly higher fee).

*200 hours practicum is typical in Australian CPE Centres; 300 hours is the international standard and provides a significantly richer learning experience. Programs conducted through our partnership with the Banyule CPE Centre require 200 hours of practicum.

Distance Learning – Regional Western Australia and Australasian Countries

We are committed to promoting reflective, competent and compassionate practice among Wellbeing, Spiritual Care, Education and Helping Professionals beyond Perth. Teaching seminars, group supervision and individual supervisory sessions are conducted online, and the practicum hours 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 supervisor at their practicum location. Contact us for more information.

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 their development. Students prepare and present a variety of patient/client encounter reports, reflection papers, literature reviews and integrative activities. Students 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 are provided to each student at the beginning of the course.

The Bush Experience

Most of our CPE courses begin with a 3-day outdoor education experience led by experienced bush guides. This event is designed to deepen the relationships among the students and educators, 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.  This experience provides a shared framework which informs learning about self and others.

Course Theory

All aspects of the course are designed to facilitate students’ ability to understand, assess and respond to human experience of distress. Simply stated, distress occurs when the way things are is different that the way things are “supposed to be”. We consider distress to be a normal, healthy human response to an abnormal situation. Our students learn to identify their own and others’ internalised attitudes, values and assumptions which have the capacity to enhance resilience or to heighten distress.  They grow in their ability to offer a range of compassionate interventions in ways which help to reduce distress and facilitate healing in those for whom the provide care.

Photograph of Michael HertzPhotograph of Michael HertzOur Centre Director, Michael Hertz, began his CPE career in 1987 with two full years of hospital-based CPE. After gaining five years’ experience as a Spiritual Care Professional, Michael went on to Supervisory training and has served as an “ACPE Certified Clinical Pastoral Educator” since 1999. Michael’s extensive experience includes starting several well-respected CPE Centres on the West Coast of the 

USA, overseeing the development of many emerging CPE Educators and supervising many hundreds of students. He trained with some of the most highly respected CPE Educators in the United States, holds an elected position in the American CPE association, and has become a respected colleague within the Australian CPE community. In his work as Supervisor and Educator, Michael balances affirmation and challenge, applies the latest theoretical developments in the professional field and employs his skill and experience to call out the best in his students.





Photograph of Carolyn Daggers

We also host training opportunities for CPE Educators. Carolyn Daggers is our current Supervisor-in-Training. We anticipate she will complete her training through the Banyule CPE Centre in Victoria in the latter part of 2023 and look forward to her accreditation as a Clinical Pastoral Educator. Carolyn has extensive spiritual care experience in both public and private hospitals working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and has specialised in areas of mental health and palliative care. Carolyn has a background of several decades as a primary school educator, teaching and establishing specialist programs in the Pilbara, the Goldfields and Perth. Carolyn is passionate about accompanying and guiding CPE students on their learning journey as they explore and reflect on themselves in order to more effectively listen to and understand others. She seeks to affirm and gently challenge her students to help them grow and does so with honesty, integrity and compassion.

Throughout the year we bring highly experienced CPE professionals to our Centre from around the world to facilitate our courses. Our summer “International Educator-in-Residence” program, launched in 2019 and resumed in 2022 following an easing of Covid-19 related restrictions. The program provides significant learning opportunities for our students, our staff and the community. In the second half of 2023, we will welcome another international educator for six months, and by the end of 2023, we hope to welcome our new permanent Educator to our faculty.



Photograph of Trina L. Williams

“My supervisory calling compels me to draw upon the gifts of vision, voice, and vulnerability as an offering of legacy, resilience, and faith to those I am chosen to cojourn with through the growing pains and pleasures of finding one’s way in the world today. These gifts have been instrumental in helping me create a pathway through which I am able to find my way forward in life. Find my way forward in systems created to keep me lost, silent and oppressed. And with each step on my way, I am constantly reminded of the recurring cost that is to be paid for liberation and competence.

I bring to students my years of chaplain experience from the fields of Hospice, Hospital and Urban Ministry, as well as wisdom from my own complex journey, one as I have had to face many losses to claim many victories. Congruent with my uncertainty of the wilderness and the use of creative possibilities of reauthoring my story, I strive to point out ways towards the bridge that can lead to greater self-awareness and healing for those who would journey with me. A bridge covered in fog. A bridge that is tattered and torn, that appears unstable to the natural eye.” - Trina L. Williams (May to November 2023). 


What our graduates and community partners want you to know:

Photograph of Jo Whitley

 "I will be forever grateful for Ted Hodge (International Educator 2019-2020). His influence on my life and career was profound. Ted’s experience, insights and supervision prepared me well for my work with VAD patients and their families across four hospitals in Perth."

- Jo Whitley, Graduate 2020, Voluntary Assisted Dying Program Coordinator, East Metropolitan Health Service.



Photograph of Bonnie Woo

"Susan Liguori (International Educator 2022-2023) was open and courageous to be vulnerable. She was determined to learn from every circumstance. She exemplified and modelled these virtues as our CPE Educator. Her teaching style and approach has helped me to attain a deeper and stronger relationship with myself, to be more grounded, centred and reflective when caring for others. I provide better care for patients and staff because of Susan."

- Bonnie Woo, Graduate 2023, Wellbeing and Spiritual Care Officer, Royal Perth Bentley Group


RPBG is an 825-bed, two-campus, acute care teaching hospital. We serve culturally, linguistically and economically diverse patients from across Western Australia. Specialties include Trauma, Mental Health, Intensive Care, Infectious Disease, Orthopaedics, Plastics, Haematology and a variety of other surgical and medical services.

As employees of a teaching hospital, RPBG staff know how to include and support students. Our centre has significant involvement with other interdisciplinary training programs. This means our CPE students interact with a variety of medical, nursing and allied health interns, enriching everyone’s learning. Our CPE students are enthusiastically welcomed by clinical staff who include them as members of the team and keep them busy with referrals.

What our graduates and community partners want you to know:

Photograph of Rajith Fernanado


"If you learn to do Wellbeing and Spiritual Care at Royal Perth or Bentley, you can do it anywhere. I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the support of the amazing Wellbeing team."

- Rajith D. Fernando, Graduate, 2023






"The Wellbeing team is a fantastic service and patients who need someone to talk to or a bit of extra emotional support - such a big aspect of the healing process. The Wellbeing team were always incredibly lovely and timely and were even available over weekends when needed. I'm so incredibly grateful for everything they provide for me and my patients. Every hospital should implement this service into their practice, it's a no brainer and makes such a big difference."

- Dr Isabella Cicchini, Intern Doctor, 2022, RPBG




Photograph of LeeAnne Richardson


"Thanks to the many opportunities to interact with and care for staff, I am no longer intimidated by doctors and nurses… they are just people like my CPE peers and me."

- Leeanne Richardson, Graduate, 2022

Photograph of CWSP TeamFor over 150 years, our hospital has supported a Pastoral Care service; we are proud of that history. Over the past few decades however, the attitudes, values and assumptions of our patients and employees have changed, reflecting broader changes in Australia’s cultural norms and practices. While we have re-branded our service, we remain committed to the core pastoral values related to meaning, purpose, compassion, spirituality, connection to something greater, hope and peace. All our daily activities - individual care for patients and employees, wellbeing gatherings for staff, reflective peer groups for junior doctors and nurses, research, wellbeing education and special events - are modelled on traditional CPE practices.



Our team of sixteen Wellbeing and Spiritual Care professionals, all CPE trained, has won numerous state and national awards: WA Health Excellence Award (2017), Spiritual Care Australia Best of Care Team Award (2018), WA Health Roundtable (National Finalists, 2019) and the Australian Council of Health Care Standards Quality Improvement Award (High Commendation, 2018, 2019 and 2022). In addition, we have been invited presenters to the Australia New Zealand Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Spiritual Health Australia, Spiritual Care Australia, the WA Health Roundtable, the WA Clinical Senate and several Medical Education associations around the country.




Our respect and value within RPBG are significant. Each month we receive an average of 200 patient care referrals and have significant wellbeing engagements with over 200 employees. Our eight-hour Bonstato Wellbeing course, anchored in CPE principles and practices, has been completed by nearly a thousand employees. This means our workforce understands and values our CPE students and the work they do. These accomplishments set the stage for a stimulating, collaborative and innovative learning environment.

Thank you for your interest in Clinical Pastoral Education within the Royal Perth Bentley Group. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information. We look forward to receiving your application to one of our programs
Last Updated: 01/03/2023