When I send updates about what we are doing, I often quickly mention that we are involved in a group called CPSP-Philippines, but I have never really explained more than very briefly what that is. There is a reason for this… it is kind of hard to explain. But I will take a stab at it here. I will try to do it with a timeline.
2009. We first formed Bukal Life Care to minister to people and train ministers in the areas of pastoral care and Christian counseling.
2010, We (Bukal Life Care) started teaching Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) for chaplains and ministers.
2011. Our counseling center formed a verbal partnership with an organization called CPSP, based in the United States. CPSP is a collegial body of pastoral counselors and clinical chaplains, and works to certify these specialties and accredit training facilities for these based on established standards. Bukal Life Care became the first training center recognized in the Philippines by CPSP, and Celia became part of the first CPSP-recognized CPE supervisors-in-training in the Philippines.
2011 (again). CPSP-Philippines was incorporated with Celia being one of Board of Trustees. We started small… with Bukal Life Care being the only training center under CPSP-Philippines.
2015. I believe this was the year that I (Bob) became Registrar for the organization. Around this time, also, our partners in Manila established a viable training center, expanding the size and capability of our group.
2015 (again) We established a formal MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) between CPSP and CPSP-Philippines. The established us formally in our relationship with CPSP.
2016. Celia became one of the first full Supervisors with CPSP-Philippines. Up to this time, our organization only had Supervisors-in-Training. Our organization now had four full training centers.
2019. We signed an updated MOA with CPSP.
So why did we help form this organization? There were a few reasons. One reason was the rather sorry state of chaplaincy and pastoral counseling in the Philippines. I read an article written in 1981 of the state of pastoral counseling and chaplaincy in Southeast Asia. The article sounded like it could have been written in 2010. Few things had changed. There were, I suspect, a few reasons for this.
People who trained to be a chaplain or a pastoral counselor tended to leave the Philippines. They were valued in other countries, but one could hardly earn a living in the Philippines in these roles. Pastoral counseling is not really recognized in the Philippines. Hospital chaplaincy has traditionally been simply a post assigned by the local bishop to a priest to carry out sacraments in the hospital. Community chaplaincy was typically held by people who were part of an organization that was originally set up to fight corruption but had gradually (in many locations) become a part of that corruption.
Our plan was to train up people locally with the goal of getting them to stay in the Philippines (or whatever country they are from… we train a lot of internationals). We did this by focusing more on community based chaplaincy. We required our trainees to do work in hospitals and jails, but also in others settings including church. This was to make pastors and other church workers more competent to provide competent pastoral counseling (I will not share with you horror stories of bad pastoral counseling we have seen over here— you probably wouldn’t believe it.) We also worked on developing people to be supervisors-in-training so they could serve in training others. With limited employment options in jails and hospitals, training others is a good starting point.
Over the years, doors have begun to open, just a bit.
- CPSP-Philippines now has 7 active training centers, and 2 in provisional status.
- We have chaplains heading… something like 5 hospitals, one corporate chaplaincy program, and several school, college, and seminary chaplaincy roles.
- The next generation of pastoral counselors/chaplains are really starting to step up and take on roles to expand the work that we began. They are starting to hold webinars, writing books, expanding into corporate work, retirement homes, and more.
Nothing in what we have written here should suggest to you that we did it all ourselves. There has always been a team. We are focusing on our role because this is our website. But, there has always been a small committed group involved in this effort. There have been a couple of moments along the way, where it did feel like we were carrying much of the load, but thankfully, in the last year or so, a number of our partners, especially those in Bulacan, Manila, and Mindanao, have really started take the work seriously. That has been exciting to watch.