In a secular spirit: Strategies of clinical pastoral education

Simon J Craddock Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) model for the provision of spiritual care represents the emergence of a secularized professional practice from a religiously-based theological practice of chaplaincy. The transformation of hospital chaplaincy into "spiritual care services" is one means by which religious healthcare ministry negotiates modernity, in the particular forms of the secular realm of biomedicine and the pluralism of the contemporary United States healthcare marketplace. "Spiritual" is a label strategically deployed to extend the realm of relevance to any patient's "belief system," regardless of his or her religious affiliation. "Theological" language is recast as a tool for conceptualizing the "spiritual lens." Such moves transform chaplaincy from a peripheral service, applicable only to the few "religious" patients, into an integral element of patient care for all. Such a secularized professional practice is necessary to demonstrate the relevance and utility of spiritual care for all hospital patients in an era of cost-containment priorities and managed care economics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number460339
Pages (from-to)339-356
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Chaplaincy
  • Professional ethics
  • Professionalization
  • Religious pluralism
  • Secularization
  • Theology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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