Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an inclusive graduate-level interfaith and interdisciplinary theological education for ministry. During CPE training, students receive close supervision while involved with persons seeking spiritual and/or religious care. Out of intense involvement with persons in various levels of crisis and need, and with feedback from peers and teachers, CPE students develop new awareness of themselves and to the needs of those they serve.

San Francisco Theological Seminary is a fully accredited CPE Center and is unique in that it provides students with the flexibility of community-based learning, rather than being in a hospital or military setting. Affiliate learning sites include a variety of venues such as congregational and parish-based settings; state, police, and firefighting agencies; prisons; and addiction recovery facilities. (Please note that prior to working at a site, students must consult with the SFTS CPE supervisor to determine that the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and program guidelines are met.)

SFTS blazed a trail in CPE when Rev. John F. Shaw (M.Div. 1954) and Mrs. Julia Shaw endowed the first CPE chair in a theological seminary. This program is offered for pastors, religious professionals, theology students and qualified laypersons who seek further development of their pastoral skills. In this exciting type of graduate-level education, you learn how to integrate knowledge from theological, psychological and social science disciplines into the practice of pastoral ministry.

For more information, please contact: 

Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina
The Shaw Family Chair for CPE
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care & Education
415.451.2889 direct

Program Structure

The CPE program at SFTS is accredited to offer three formats of CPE on a calendar that coincides with the SFTS academic year. Dates of each term may vary, so please contact the CPE Program Manager for the CPE offerings of a specific academic year.

Internship Extended units (Level I & II)

These internship units are offered in the fall, spring, and summer terms. During the fall and spring unit (17 weeks total), interns complete 11 hours of structured education per week, and 22 hours of direct pastoral care per week. When offered, summer CPE classes run over the course of 14 weeks, and require 12 hours of structured education per week, and 30 hours of direct pastoral care per week.

Supervisory Education

SFTS offers the Shaw Supervisory Education Fellowship to one student so they can train to become a certified ACPE supervisor.

Admissions Requirements

This program welcomes seminarians, as well as interfaith community pastors, religious, and lay professional who have full-time serving or caring positions. Applicants must be current students at a theological institution or involved and in good standing as a spiritual leader of a faith community or institution in which pastoral care is provided or anticipated. More information regarding admissions requirements can be found here.

Meet the Supervisors

lauragcRev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina is the Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education at San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she implements and supervises the Clinical Pastoral Education program. Besides being a certified ACPE supervisor, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, CA. Her main research areas include education and pastoral care.

Rev. Garrett-Cobbina is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, where she earned both Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees. She completed her undergraduate work at Syracuse University where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics. Garrett-Cobbina is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Prior to working at SFTS, Rev. Garrett-Cobbina served as the Assistant Director of Chaplains for Carolinas HealthCare System where she was CPE supervisor faculty, hospital chaplain, and pastoral care and education manager at CMC-Mercy Hospital in Charlotte, NC. She was also the pastor of Smallwood Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Rev. Garrett-Cobbina is originally from Indianapolis, IN.

She is married to Michael Cobbina, who is originally from Ghana, West Africa. Michael serves as a board certified chaplain at a local hospital.

paulgaffneyRev. Paul Gaffney was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, the son of a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Rev. Gaffney received his Bachelor of Arts from Hiram College, where he majored in Sociology, minored in Music, and met his wife, Annie. He then attended San Francisco Theological Seminary. During his third year at SFTS, Rev. Gaffney began working with the Marin Interfaith Homeless Chaplaincy (now the Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy). In 2004, he graduated from SFTS with a Master of Divinity degree, and in 2005, Rev. Gaffney became the sole chaplain of the Street Chaplaincy, providing emotional and spiritual support to people in transition. Rev. Gaffney was ordained into Christian Ministry by the Northern California/Nevada Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on June 4, 2006. Rev. Gaffney also is a lay-ordained student of Taigen Leighton in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition. Rev. Gaffney entered Supervisory Education at SFTS in 2014, becoming the first person selected as the John and Julia Shaw Supervisory Education/Chaplaincy Fellow.

Accreditation Information

The SFTS CPE program is fully accredited to offer Level I, Level II and Supervisory CPE by:
The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.
1 West Ct Square, Suite 325
Decatur, GA 30030 | 404.320.1472

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. The person who no longer listens to their brother or sister will soon not longer be listening to God… One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and never really speaking to others, albeit they be not conscious of it.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Do not hesitate to visit the sick, because for such deeds you will be loved.

–Sirach 7:35

Click image below to download a PDF of “How to Make a Hospital Visit,” by Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina