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Clinical Pastoral Supervision and the Theology of Charles Gerkin

Thomas St. James O’Connor

Publication Year: 1998

In the last twenty years, the number of texts written on clinical pastoral supervision has accelerated. Thomas St. James O’Connor analyzes these texts, nearly 300 of them, in light of three fundamental questions about the praxis of clinical pastoral supervision: (1)what is distinctive about the praxis? (2)what is an appropriate theological method for the praxis? and, (3)what is an adequate praxis? In doing so, he formulates three approaches: the social science, the hermeneutic and the special interest.

Looking at the theology of Charles Gerkin, a pastoral theologian and family therapist, O’Connor develops a conversation between Gerkin’s theology and the texts. The theological methods in the three approaches are critiqued and Gerkin’s praxis/theory/praxis method is endorsed. Case examples are used throughout to illustrate theory and issues discussed and to aid in the presentation of an adequate praxis.

Clinical Pastoral Supervision and the Theology of Charles Gerkin provides a unique overview of the history and current state of clinical pastoral supervision and an understanding of its methodology and theological foundations. More than that, it builds on the practical theory of Charles Gerkin, expanding it for immediate use in the practice of ministry.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Editions SR


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pp. ix-x

This book has received the help of many people in its evolution into its present form. First and foremost is Elizabeth Ann Marie Meakes. She has been a continual dialogue partner, supporter and cheerleader for me, especially in moments when the task seemed too onerous. This work is dedicated to her and to our new daughter...

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pp. 1-6

The written texts of clinical pastoral supervision are the area of research for this book. A study of the research field raises questions about the praxis of clinical pastoral supervision which this book addresses. First, what is distinctive about the praxis of clinical pastoral supervision...

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Chapter 1. The Field of Clinical Pastoral Supervision

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pp. 7-22

Bill has completed one year of a MDiv program. He has a bachelor's degree in social work and has worked for a number of social agencies in child welfare and family therapy. He is in his early thirties and seeking ordination in his denomination. Bill is doing a field work placement in a health care institution...

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Chapter 2. Three Approaches in the Praxis of Clinical Pastoral Supervision

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pp. 23-40

Sally has been working in congregational ministry for eight years. She is an ordained minister in her denomination. In her seminary training, Sally did one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education and found it helpful. She has sought out a clinical pastoral supervisor to help her with some pastoral situations. In her congregational ministry...

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Chapter 3. Gerkin's Incarnational Theology

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pp. 41-59

Mike is working as a chaplain in a long-term care facility under supervision. He has been there for over four months and has developed a good rapport with many of the residents of the facility as well as many of the staff. He has studied various theories from both theology and the social sciences and has begun to integrate them into his ministry...

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Chapter 4. Gerkin's Theological Anthropology

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pp. 60-71

Laura was the on-call chaplain at the hospital on the weekend. She was called to an emergency to deal with the death of a seven-year-old girl named Samantha, who was killed in a motor vehicle accident. Samantha's mother, who was driving the van, was in the hospital recovering from serious injuries...

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Chapter 5. Gerkin's Incarnational Theology and the Praxis of Clinical Pastoral Supervision

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pp. 72-87

Alfred is a clinical pastoral supervisor who trained in Boston and Canada in the early seventies. He works in a teaching hospital as a chaplain and clinical pastoral supervisor. Alfred, trained to challenge and question students in order to facilitate personal and professional growth, has a deep loyalty to his students and the relationship...

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Chapter 6. An Adequate Transformed Praxis

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pp. 88-96

Mary is an American woman in her thirties who has experienced many losses. She has a BA in psychology and is currently in a MTS program in pastoral counselling with a focus on family therapy. She is uncertain about seeking ordination in her Protestant denomination...

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Chapter 7. Conclusion

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pp. 97-102

As the educational unit came to an end, the students were anxious about their evaluations. Bill, Sally, Mike, Laura and Mary had various experiences in the clinical pastoral placement. In fact, their learnings seemed so rich that they found it hard to capture...

Glossary of Key Terms

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pp. 103-105


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pp. 106-116


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pp. 117-146


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pp. 147-157

E-ISBN-13: 9780889206618
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889203105
Print-ISBN-10: 0889203105

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 1998

Series Title: Editions SR
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OCLC Number: 180704534
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Clinical Pastoral Supervision and the Theology of Charles Gerkin

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Subject Headings

  • Gerkin, Charles V., 1922-.
  • Theology, Practical.
  • Pastoral counseling -- Study and teaching -- Supervision.
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