Pastoral Care Specialist Training Program
Next Training: January 2023
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 Pastoral Care Specialist (PCS) Training Program is a 48-hour course 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
The PCS Training program is a new curriculum developed by the Psychotherapy Commission of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and the former American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), which consolidated with ACPE in 2019. Prism Counseling has piloted three offerings of the PCS program so far.
*Health Services Research (2003): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360908
This offering of the program includes both live and pre-recorded self-paced modules totaling 48 hours. Live groups sessions account for 24 hours over an 8 week period. 16 hours of the course are self-paced and consist of pre-recorded lectures on the material with 8 hours of time accounted for assigned homework.
There will be 8 live weekly sessions (3 hours each, totaling 24 hours). Sessions will be conducted by Zoom. Students must have access to a computer with an internet connection in order to participate. Live sessions will take place Tuesdays 4:00PM - 7:00 PM on the following days (taking a break on 10/25): 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18 and 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 11/22. Students must attend all live sessions in order to complete the program.
In addition to the live sessions, students will be required to watch pre-recorded lectures (16 hours total) at a time that is convenient for them, but encouraged to keep pace with the corresponding material of the live sessions. The final 8 hours consist of homework assignments and personal reflection exercises that are also self-paced. No additional books are required and all materials will be provided.
The entire training costs $600 which can either be paid upfront or paid in 4 monthly installments of $150 throughout the course of the program.
Students must attend all live group trainings and finish the self-paced curriculum in order to complete the program. At the end of the course, students will receive a Certificate of Completion. For more information, read the course overview (syllabus) here: 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. Prism 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 pastoral counselors. 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?
The class is fully online and sessions will be conducted via Zoom. Students will also be able to access the self-paced material online.
6. DO I HAVE TO JOIN THE LIVE SESSIONS? CAN I JUST DO THE SELF-PACED MODULES?
The Pastoral Care Specialist program was specifically designed to be training where concepts are unpacked and explored through group interaction and participation. Since the material consists of concepts that need to be applied practically in-person, the group sessions allow for students to dive deeper, ask questions, practice skills, and learn directly from the instructor and from one another. Students must attend all live group sessions in addition to finishing the self-paced curriculum in order to complete the program.
7. 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.
8. 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.
About the Instructor
The program is taught by Rev. Tres Adames, MDiv, BCPC. Tres is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Director of Prism 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 currently Chair of the ACPE Pastoral Care Specialist Task Force and previously served on the ACPE Psychotherapy Commission in 2020 and 2021. He has been a contributing writer, developer, and trainer of the ACPE Pastoral Care Specialist program since its inception.
Feedback from Previous Students
Here is what some of our actual students who have taken the course have to say about the program: