AAPC & ACPE Explore a Common Future
ACPE News | October 11, 2018

On October 11, 2018, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) and ACPE issued a joint statement announcing the two organizations have signed a Letter of Intent to become one organization in 2019.

Below you will find documents, useful links and other background on our conversations to date as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions. AAPC will update the FAQs as our planning progresses.

Key Communications, Documentation & Other Information

In addition to the Frequently Asked Questions below, here are links to key communications and other information related to the exploration of AAPC’s common future with ACPE


Why is AAPC exploring a common future with ACPE?  
AAPC needs a new operational structure that is more efficient and yet takes advantage of an “economy of scale” that provides the diverse support needed for their members to succeed in their ministries. Several attempts at reorganizing in the past few years has led the AAPC Board of Directors to believe that joining with ACPE, a historic partnering cognate group, will bring strength to both organizations and will provide a solid foundation for responding to the challenges and needs in their communities as they move forward.  
When will ACPE and AAPC be one? 
Legally by the end of AAPC’s fiscal year on June 30, 2019, however the entire process will begin with incremental changes beginning toward the end of 2018 and continue throughout 2019.  
What are the Guiding Principles for the Discussions? 

  1. Gratitude and hospitality: leadership of both groups are grateful for the opportunity to explore this transition to a single entity and want to make this as hospitable as possible for all members. 
  2. Transparency in communications and process: regular communications will be scheduled to keep all members of both groups informed. ACPE will also work with AAPC to schedule a series of webinars to talk through this process with members. 
  3. Mutual benefit: we firmly believe there will be educational, professional and financial benefits for all if this process is managed well. 
  4. Professional differentiation: Pastoral Counseling and CPE are distinct disciplines with different training models/expectations. Any new structure will honor that. 
  5. Cooperation not acquisition: ACPE is not pursuing AAPC, but rather working to restructure operations to support the ongoing work of AAPC in a fiscally sustainable manner.
What things do AAPC & ACPE need to come to agreement on? 
The two organizations need to document how current AAPC activity will be moved to ACPE as well as what the future will look like for pastoral counseling. More specifically:
  • Review AAPC policies and procedures to determine how to integrate them into ACPE’s structure. 
  • Develop a plan to transition financial, business, technology and programmatic operations to ACPE. 
  • Ensure the long-term fiscal health of the combined entities. 
  • Create a new member structure/categories for AAPC members within ACPE that will enable AAPC members to maintain a unique identity within ACPE as well as: 
    • Chart a path to once again offer accreditation of counseling and/or training centers. 
    • NOTE: It is not the intention to revive former AAPC membership categories and structure, but rather to build a new structure that provides avenues to honor past individual achievements and invite new people in. 
  • Determine how volunteer elected leadership will be structured to ensure AAPC members have a voice.
  • Answer the following questions: 
    • How will AAPC members maintain their distinct identity as pastoral counselors? 
    • How will AAPC honor the purpose of the Mission Advancement Endowment (MAP grants) in the years ahead? 
    • How will AAPC protect the intellectual property of our offerings? 
    • How will ACPE communicate the new combined organization’s role and membership categories in ways that have meaning for other organizations, especially as it relates to employment status and standards? 
Is this a “done deal”? 
Given that both parties to date have been very positive about this opportunity, we do not anticipate this will not work out in the end. However, there is significant work to be done before everything is complete. Until we are farther down the path there is always a risk that something may not work out.  
It is perhaps worth noting that consolidation isn’t just a trend among professional associations with religious inclinations, but rather a trend for the entire professional associations marketplace.

Why is ACPE interested in consolidating with AAPC?   
As noted in small ways throughout these FAQs, ACPE has recently gone through its own reinvention and restructuring. This was driven in part by the recognition that they had been stretching beyond their traditional clinical settings for some time. Much of what we bring in terms of profession, expertise and passion align to the larger vision that ACPE hopes to achieve in the coming years.

Importantly, ACPE is deeply committed historically to pastoral counseling/spiritually-integrated psychotherapy. ACPE leadership believes that by helping us they are helping everyone who practices or needs the services of our related professions.

How will we refer to ourselves/what will we be called?   
Be assured AAPC members are not losing their identity. We are already working on ways to differentiate between ACPE educators and those trained as pastoral counselors/spiritually-integrated psychotherapists. 

The consolidation of AAPC with ACPE aligns to ACPE’s reality of a growing breadth of programming and services, which led ACPE to change its name in 2017 from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education to ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education. This reflects the fact that they have expanded their work beyond clinical education.

Using the collective experience of AAPC and ACPE leadership we are working through the best ways to clearly identify ourselves and maintain our separate identities. AAPC is particularly focused on preserving our profession’s body of knowledge. 

This work is being done with a critical eye toward effectively communicating who we are to others in the profession, our clients, our employers and the greater world. Together, our goal is to use language that represents our different expertise, training and credentialing. 

To be clear, we will all be members of ACPE. AAPC as a legal entity and a label will go away.

When will ACPE and AAPC be one?   
Our goal is to legally be one by the end of AAPC’s fiscal year on June 30, 2019. However, the entire process will be incremental with changes beginning in early 2019 and following on throughout 2019 and beyond. 

It is important to be aware that what we do in the short-term to facilitate the consolidation may not reflect our long-term intention. This is, in part, why we are consolidating with ACPE. Our focus needs to shift away from day-to-day operations and toward creating a new vision for how we can support the profession and practice of pastoral counseling/spiritually-integrated psychotherapy. 

Will there be opportunities to participate in ACPE leadership?   
Yes, in fact, AAPC already has reached beyond its current elected board and regional leadership to recruit members to support the task force sub-committees guiding our future. 

ACPE hopes that as we embrace our new home and our role within it, former AAPC members will actively choose to volunteer for leadership positions. To help facilitate AAPC member involvement, going forward a member of AAPC’s Leadership Development Committee now also sits on ACPE’s Leadership Development Committee.

Already, there is a sense that there will be a clear need for volunteers within the pastoral counseling/spiritually-integrated psychotherapy profession to help plan future conferences, events and other programming at the international, regional and local levels beginning in mid-2019.

My Question Isn’t Answered Here  
Most likely that’s because the answer is: “we don’t know yet.” 
While things are progressing well there is a lot that has yet to be discussed, determined and approved. The volunteer leadership of both organizations and our respective staff are committed to keeping everyone informed as decisions are made and details are decided. To date, we have only discussed the big picture of how best to proceed to begin to detail and make all the decisions that will need to be made. 
If you have a specific question, concern or idea, the ACPE Executive Committee wants to hear from you. Please send your thoughts to: webmaster@acpe.edu.
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