On Friday the 29th of February 2008, at the Carlton Highland Hotel in Edinburgh, the idea of APSE was conceived with its birth on the 17th of October 2008 at the NHS Education for Scotland Offices, Glasgow.
During 2007 and 2008 Healthcare Chaplaincy bodies (The Chaplaincy Academic and Accreditation Board – CAAB – and Chaplaincy Training & Development
NHS Education for Scotland) along with UKCPE (UK Clinical Pastoral Education, which had a few members in England and Scotland trying to develop CPE) were having conversations about the development of forms of supervision, in the first instance for Healthcare Chaplains, but also for others engaged in pastoral ministries. In Scotland, certainly, there was a growing recognition of the need for an educational and supportive process for healthcare chaplains which would advance their professional standing and competencies. CPE, an established USA programme of pastoral education and formation, was happening at The South Maudsley Hospital in London and there were attempts to get something off the ground in Scotland. (In reality, however, CPE, never took off in the UK: perhaps because the model was for a student context; perhaps it was ‘too American.’) What was being looked for was a method of supervision for people who worked with people, who wanted to reflect, be supported and develop but with a faith, values or philosophical element.
The invitation to attend the consultation in Edinburgh, on the 29th of February 2008, said: “The purpose of the day is to gather interested persons and organisations across the spectrum of pastoral care and pastoral education cultures to find a way forward towards common agreement on the future development of pastoral supervision in the UK.”
Two papers had been prepared for the consultation and were discussed by those attending. One, a draft on the formation of a national association for pastoral supervision setting out a structure and process for recognition of pastoral supervisors. The second, a CAAB discussion paper on supervision reflecting background work relating to the development of supervision within health care chaplaincy.
One of the outcomes of the consultation was that a working group consisting of Cecelia Clegg, Derek Fraser, Jane Leach, Michael Paterson, Mark Sutherland and Robin McGlashan was set up. They met in Cambridge to discuss definitions and the potential structure and remit of an organisation – the Association of Pastoral Supervisors and Educators (APSE). (Note in passing that the name has changed since then!). These people were all experienced and respected in the fields of healthcare chaplaincy, theological education, counselling and therapy.
The collaborative thinking of these six led to the meeting in Glasgow on the 17th of October 2008 which was attended by 17 people: mainly healthcare chaplains from around the UK, and theological educators.
An important part of the meeting was the presentation and discussion of a paper by Michael Paterson titled ‘Towards a Definition of Pastoral Supervision.’ The minute of the meeting records that the group raised the following issues in response:
Later in the day a revised definition was agreed. It is clear, however, that the nature, aims and methods of pastoral supervision are still discussed and an awareness of the issues current at the birth of APSE is informative.
This meeting also recognised that there were others involved in varied forms of supervision who would be interested in this development and that some form of ‘grandparenting’ would be useful. Membership, associate membership and institutional membership were discussed along with how to award accreditation. More practically, it was agreed that the bank account in the name of UKCPE would be transferred into a newly born APSE account! Another, smaller, working group agreed to take forward matters such as a code of ethics, a constitution and ‘grandparenting.’
Finally, the minutes record that “APSE was formally constituted and the group became the first members.”
APSE finally became a Registered charity in 2019. APSE continue to develop accreditation pathways and look for new ways of working to support the growing membership. APSE has members across the UK and beyond. The value of pastoral supervision is increasingly recognised by many Christian denominations, other faith groups and organisations.
It cannot be denied that since its birth, APSE has grown, learned to walk unaided and even passed successfully through any adolescent phase! It is a mature organisation with a solid constitution, effective leadership, a growing membership and a rigorous accreditation process. Training in pastoral supervision is now delivered by a number of bodies, each with their own emphases and programmes.
The first meetings which led up to the formation of APSE were instigated by Mark Sutherland, the then Lead Chaplain at the Maudsley Hospital and chair of UKACPE (United Kingdom Association for Clinical and Pastoral Education). The meetings involved the three officers of UKACPE and four others involved in healthcare chaplaincy training.
The purpose was twofold:
As we talked together, we found ourselves wanting to hold together not just the various healthcare constituencies, but also parish ministry and theological education as part of the wider culture of reflective practice in ministry.
After several meetings in 2006-7 we arranged a consultation in February 2008, which was hosted by NHS Education Scotland, as a way of seeking to broaden the conversation in the hope of founding an association.
We tried to map key stakeholders in pastoral supervision and to invite representatives, bringing together people from BIAPT (British & Irish Association for Practical Theology), from the Journal of Practical Theology, from theological education, from Clinical Pastoral Education Scotland, from CAAB and from the Healthcare Chaplains’ professional associations.
The 25 that gathered in Edinburgh in February 2008 represented all those constituencies and brought together people from a range of denominations: Baptists, members of the Church of Scotland, the Church of England, The Episcopal Church in Scotland, the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
That consultative group began discussing what pastoral theology is and what an association might look like and seek to achieve. It commissioned its own work to be undertaken by a small working group. First, members of the group were asked to submit their own definitions of pastoral supervision; second they were invited to submit a short bibliography on pastoral supervision; and third to comment on a draft structure for an association which could accredit supervisors.
The results of that work were discussed at a second consultation in October 2008. Given the breadth of the constituencies it is not surprising that some issues were hotly debated:
Once we had managed to find agreement for what we meant by pastoral supervision our next task was to work out how to get the association going: who would accredit the first applicants and how high should the bar be set? Some preferred a relatively easy route for the first year in order to encourage applicants. Others preferred a rigorous start in order to establish credibility from the beginning. In the end a compromise was agreed. Applications during the first year would require slightly less evidence than in subsequent years but would be subject to interview by an APSE-nominated senior practitioner.
The lively debate will no doubt continue – and that is one of the objectives of APSE – to encourage conversation between different traditions of pastoral supervision and amongst practitioners from various fields. What has emerged, however, is enough of a common view about what this pastoral supervision is in order to work together, and a consensus that some kind of national accreditation in pastoral supervision will help to promote good practice.
And that is our overall objective: to promote good practice in pastoral supervision.
Our Launch on June 19, 2009 marked the beginning of the fulfilment of those purposes and the opening of the doors to receive applications for accreditation. We hope that in order to establish a national network of peer-reviewed supervisors, many will want to take that route in due course.