Envisioning the “Big Picture” of Professionalization

Within CASC/ACSS we are experiencing a momentum to professionalize; to be respected for the expertise we bring into chaplaincy, counselling settings, faith communities and other service institutions. Professionalization is multifaceted and time sensitive work. Sometimes we drive the process; sometimes the process drives us. It is easy to lose focus and get caught up in complexities. Having a “big picture” framework through which to view the process of professionalization can help us “keep our eyes on the prize” when we are in the thick of things. The following framework is offered in bullet format for your consideration and reflection. It is not intended as a linear construct; rather it attempts to depict a process that moves us forward with four integrative threads: learning, skills development, professional recognition, and collegial identification.

CURRICULUM (Learning)..

  • The educational method used in our profession is called Supervised Pastoral Education (SPE). SPE has two distinct branches, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and Pastoral Counselling Education (PCE), to reflect that our Association educates for two related but different professions.
  • Learning activities combine ‘experience’ + ‘reflection’ + ‘transformation’. Thus SPE is both conceptually grounded and a dynamic, formative process.
  • SPE constructs a “body of knowledge” to inform our two professions of Spiritual Care Practice and Psycho-Spiritual Therapy.
  • SPE integrates both theoretical (courses/degrees) and clinical/experiential (units of CPE/PCE) learning such that “we become the tool” for our professional practice and expertise.
  • The integrative learning processes of SPE seek to bring together knowledge from diverse disciplines – e.g. both theology/religious studies/spirituality and psychology/sociology/ anthropology/health sciences.
  • The objectives of SPE expand our capacity to function effectively as skilled spiritual care and/or psycho-spiritual therapy professionals.
  • Curriculum builds Competencies.
  • Quick References: CASC/ACSS Curriculum Project on Association Website   CASC/ACSS Education Standards (Basic, Advanced, Provisional Supervisor-Educator)

COMPETENCIES (Skills development)…

  • Competencies are the “observable skills” (clinical, reflective, and/or attitudinal) that we learn, integrate and draw upon as Spiritual Care Practitioners and Psycho-spiritual Therapists.
  • Competencies inform what we do in our various professional roles and activities.
  • A competency can be conceptualized by deconstructing what we do into “units of awareness and action”. For example, ‘listening’ may include the following units of awareness – i.e. sensitivity to the degree of physical proximity, respectful use of eye contact and/or no eye contact, attentiveness to both verbal and nonverbal messages, being able to provide feedback in ways that are engaging as well as appropriate to the situation/person, etc.
  • Becoming competent involves learning how to integrate specific knowledge, skills and abilities into one’s professional functioning.
  • In 2011 a list of ten Competencies was approved by CASC/ACSS and posted on the Association website. This list of competencies was derived from a 2006 DACUM project and a 2008 verification survey within CASC/ACSS.
  • The competencies are for all CASC/ACSS members to read and study, use as points of reference for self/other assessment, and integrate in keeping with our distinctive but also complementary professions.
  • Over the coming years these competencies will be further spelled out through “Scope of Practice” guidelines, SPE evaluation guidelines, and the like.
  • Competencies lead to professional Certification.
  • Quick Reference:  CASC/ACSS Competencies for Spiritual Care Practitioners and Psycho-Spiritual Therapists

CERTIFICATION (Professional recognition)…

  • Achieving CASC/ACSS Certification signifies professional recognition and designation – as Spiritual Care Practitioners and Psycho-Spiritual Therapists and/or Supervisor-Educators for CPE and PCE.
  • There is a three step process for Certification within CASC/ACSS
  • Completing the CASC/ACSS Certification process means that a person’s theoretical and experiential learning, skilled functioning, ethical conduct, and integrated competencies are peer reviewed and held to nationally regulated standards.
  • Certification fosters Collegial Identification.
  • Quick References:

CASC/ACSS Standards of Certification:   (See Manual chapter two)

CASC/ACSS Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

COLLEGIAL IDENTIFICATION (Professional Uniqueness and Expertise)..

  • There are four categories of certified CASC/ACSS professional practitioners:
    • Spiritual Care Practitioners
    • Psycho-Spiritual Therapists
    • Supervisor-Educator, CPE
    • Supervisor-Educator, PCE
  • Each of the four designations signifies a specialized field of competency and professional expertise within CASC/ACSS. Each signals a unique colleagueship as well as collegial identification.
  • Likewise, to be a CASC/ACSS “Spiritual Care Practitioner”, “Psycho-Spiritual Therapist”, or “Supervisor-Educator ” is to share collegial identification in a slightly broader sense. To this can be added those who have dual certification (i.e. Certified members with credentials in both CPE and PCE)
  • Each certified aggregate within CASC/ACSS can both stand alone in describing its specialized expertise and stand together with other groups to represent our solidarity as professionally educated and trained Spiritual Care Practitioners and Psycho-Spiritual Therapists.
  • Insofar as collegial identification is related to professional ‘scopes of practice’ and/or legislatively ‘regulated practices’ it can be significant in discussions pertaining to College development. Some of the elements involved in College development include standards of practice, a code of ethics and professional conduct, credentialing processes, accountability and self-regulation, continuing professional development, etc.
  • Quick References:

CASC/ACSS Standards of Professional Practice
CASC/ACSS College Development

Note: This CAsc web site has comprehensive information about the 2006 DACUM project and 2008 verification survey. There is also a list of contact persons in various CASC/ACSS Regions who are involved with College development.