McLean Receives Accreditation for Clinical Pastoral Education

June 28, 2021

This spring, McLean Hospital received provisional accreditation for clinical pastoral education (CPE) from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). CPE offers education on providing spiritual care to patients for clergy, theological students, and health care professionals. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, ACPE is the premier accrediting agency for CPE.

“The accreditation is very significant because we know how much our patients and staff appreciate spiritual care,” said David H. Rosmarin, PhD, ABPP, director of McLean’s Spirituality and Mental Health Program.

Years ago, McLean Hospital had a CPE program. Now, after a hiatus of 35 years, the Spirituality and Mental Health Program is broadening its educational mission.

“CPE first started at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1925. The first CPE program in a psychiatric setting brought clergy and psychiatric patients into a supervised encounter at Worcester State Hospital,” reported McLean’s chaplain Rev. Angelika A. Zollfrank, MDiv, BCC, ACPE certified educator. “At McLean, we are building on all these historical strands with the vision of enhancing spiritual care for our patients.”

While chaplaincy is well established at McLean, the CPE program will enable the hospital to bring CPE students on board who represent a variety of diverse religious, spiritual, and racial backgrounds as they serve McLean’s patients, families, and staff. The mental health CPE program will also serve as a model for other psychiatric hospitals.

“This will allow McLean to educate students in CPE specifically related to mental health,” said Zollfrank.

Clinician and patients in group therapy
Clinical pastoral education students will participate in aspects of patient care as part of their learning experience at McLean

In late August, four CPE students are scheduled to begin their training at McLean as part of a pioneer group in the CPE program. Once oriented, these students will help McLean build on the services that Zollfrank currently provides at the hospital.

“We presently only have one chaplain providing spiritual care across all of McLean,” Rosmarin said, reporting that Zollfrank currently engages in about 100 spiritual consultations each month. “By adding four students who are learning from her,” he explained, “we can leverage Angelika’s expertise and greatly increase the number of patients we can support.”

Zollfrank said that the CPE program also provides an opportunity to enhance the efforts of the hospital’s Anti-Racist, Justice, and Health Equity Oversight Committee. Formed last year, the committee focuses on addressing racial injustice and inequity at McLean and in the broader community.

“Data suggests that people are much more likely to approach a clergyperson about mental health issues than they are a mental health provider,” she explained. “CPE students will also return to their diverse religious and cultural communities and will more knowledgeably provide spiritual care to broader groups of people in the community.”

Both Zollfrank and Rosmarin believe that McLean’s effort may serve as a catalyst for other institutions.

“Most CPE programs are not in psychiatric hospitals,” reported Rosmarin. “In fact, many psychiatric institutions don’t have a chaplain at all. We hope to inspire other psychiatric hospitals to create similar programs. We could be trendsetters.”

As McLean’s CPE program becomes established, other psychiatric hospitals may add similar educational programs. “Hopefully,” Zollfrank said, “we can become a national, and potentially international, resource for other programs.”

For those interested in clinical pastoral education at McLean, please contact Rev. Angelika A. Zollfrank, MDiv, BCC, at 617.855.2520.

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