ACPE Pastoral Care Specialist
In times of crisis, the first place many turn to is their local church or faith community. Studies show that 25% of those seeking help for mental illness first turn to a member of the clergy. This is higher than the percentage of people who first go to a psychiatrist or medical doctor.*
The ACPE Pastoral Care Specialist (PCS) Training Program is a 48-hour live course (taught over 2 semesters) that provides the knowledge and skills pastoral caregivers in churches and faith communities need to help others effectively, ethically, and safely. Issues and topics covered include:
*Health Services Research (2003):ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360908
The program is now offered in two semesters (one in the fall and one in the spring), with each semester being 8 weeks (16 weeks total):
Upcoming Schedule (2022-2023)
Each live session meets Tuesdays from 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM (Arizona Time). Every year, the Fall Semester typically begins at the end of September and runs through the end of November. The Spring Semester will usually begin the end of February and run through the end of April. Both semesters have a one-week break around major holidays. Students can start in either the Fall Semester or the Spring Semester as long as they attend both semesters in order to complete the program.
The total cost of the program is $600 with each semester costing $300. The program can either be paid in full ($600), or before each semester ($300). For those who need a more affordable option, each semester can be paid in 3 monthly installments of $100 over the course of each semester.
Coursework and Lectures
The course includes 40 total hours of live training and 8 hours of reading/homework (or 2.5 hours of live training each week and 8 total hours of reading/homework throughout). No additional books are required and all materials will be provided.
Sessions will be conducted by Zoom. Students must have access to a computer with an internet connection in order to participate. At the end of the course, students will receive a Certificate of Completion. For more information, click below to read the course overview (syllabus): Read Course Overview (PDF)
Learn More About the PCS Program
The ACPE Pastoral Care Specialist Training Program was featured on Spiritual Care Today, the official podcast of the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling in an interview with Aaron Pawelek, chair of the program.
ACPE (also known as the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education) is the standard for spiritual care and education. Membership includes Certified CPE Educators, Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapists, spiritual care professionals and practitioners, pastoral counselors, chaplains, faith communities, and seminaries.
Arizona Christian Counseling is an Institutional Member of ACPE . The Institutional Member category is for organizations that support and whose purpose and scope of activity is to enhance the mission and vision of ACPE.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Who is this course for?
This program is primarily for pastoral caregivers in churches and faith communities. The training is also applicable to pastoral counselors, spiritual directors, and chaplains who work in community health and private practice settings
2. Is this the same as CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education)?
No. This is a new continuing education program for clergy in local church and faith community settings. The course provides essential skills in pastoral care and mental health first aid for those working in parish and community settings. If you are looking to enroll in a unit of CPE, you can find an ACPE accredited CPE Center here.
3. Will this PROGRAM certify me to become a counselor?
No. ACPE does not certify counselors or psychotherapists. You must hold a state-license in order to offer professional counseling and psychotherapy. A Certificate of Completion is offered to those who complete the course but only confirms the number of continuing education hours completed—it does not certify any profession itself. Any skills covered are meant to expand your existing expertise in pastoral care within your current context of work or ministry.
4. Is this is a christian-based training?
This is not specifically a Christian-based training, but is open to those of all faiths. ACPE provides interfaith professional education for theological students and ministers of all faiths (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and others). Students will have the opportunity to apply the skills they learn in this course to their own theological and pastoral formation, and are encouraged to share this process with other students insofar as they are respectful of any varying viewpoints of their fellow students.
5. Is the Class Online or in-Person?
Due to concerns around the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the training will take place online via Zoom with the hope of transitioning to in-person sessions on the campus of Calvary Healing Center (720 E Montebello Ave in Phoenix, Arizona). Those who can only remain online will still be able to join us through a hybrid learning format.
6. How Much Does it Cost?
The entire training costs $600, which can be paid in full (via Paypal) before the course begins, or paid in 4 monthly installments of $150 throughout the program.
7. Can State-Licensed Therapists Take this course?
This course is specifically designed for non-licensed caregivers. Fundamentals covered (such as basic counseling skills) may be redundant for providers who are licensed and have completed a Master's degree. The ACPE Spiritually-Integrated Psychotherapy (SIP) program is the sister program of the PCS program and is a better fit for licensed and pre-licensed therapists looking for continuing education in spiritual integration.
Feedback from Previous Students
Here is what some of our students who have taken the course have to say about the program:
About the Trainer
The program is taught by Rev. Tres Adames, MDiv, BCPC. Tres is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor at Arizona Christian Counseling. He holds a Master of Divinity from Wesley Biblical Seminary and Bachelor of Arts from Asbury University. He has previously taught on faculty at Grand Canyon University (GCU) in the College of Theology. Tres is an active member of ACPE and previously served on the ACPE Psychotherapy Commission in 2020 and 2021. He has been a contributing writer, developer, and trainer of the Pastoral Care Specialist program since its inception.