We are the only Zen Buddhist-based organization accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, to offer Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Our New York City ACPE Clinical Pastoral Education Training Program is open to those who have completed our Foundations in Contemplative Care Training Program and are engaged in a spiritual practice tradition. Our program is a professional level training and is designed both for those interested in becoming professional chaplains, and those interested in deepening their spiritual practice.

CPE Grounded in SOto Zen

As seen through the lens of the Four Noble Truths, New York Zen Center’s Clinical Pastoral Education Program focuses the truth of suffering, its cause, and the path towards the alleviation of suffering as it is uniquely realized in care partnership. The combination of professional education and clinical experience in conjunction with Soto Zen practice instills in chaplain interns the expertise to provide inclusive spiritual care in various clinical settings. 


Our training brings interns into supervised care partnerships with people at pivotal moments in their lives. Coming from a reflective, intimate involvement with people in both crisis and celebration, and with feedback from peers and educators, students develop a deepening awareness of themselves and the needs of those they care for. New York Zen Center’s CPE program emphasizes being in care partnership rather than caring for another; relationship is paramount in healing. 

Program details

  • The 300 hours of clinical practice per unit 
  • 100 hours of education and one 5 day retreat per unit
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of the chaplaincy encounter
  • Individual supervision and clinical supervision
  • Monthly peer meetings
  • Monthly readings and reflective written papers

New York Zen Center CPE is a transformative relational experience. Interns commit to investigating how they function in relationship, which is enlivening and challenging, at the same time fostering deep trust, intimacy and care in the cohort that extends beyond the boundaries of CPE.” – Past CPE Intern Sally.



  • The CPE program is grounded in the three tenets: not knowing, bearing witness and compassionate action
  • All are encouraged to be in relationship with self; identify what is happening in oneself to better connect to what is happening in relationship
  • Diverse clinical placements expand the understanding of how chaplains function in the world. Interns have access to the diverse population of NYC. 
  • Contemplative practice is universally bonding and creates community: teachers, students, staff, care partners are welcome to practice together.  Interns practice Soto Zen together as a regular part of the CPE experience.  
  • Contemplative practice expands the chaplain’s ability to relate to people of any faith tradition (or no faith tradition). 
  • A supportive community is in-part what makes New York Zen Center’s CPE program so deeply transformative.  Participants become familiar with one another through multiple aspects of their spiritual lives;  they regularly sit together, attend retreat together, and participate in the Foundations program as a prerequisite.  
  • Personal development of spiritual formation, authority, and leadership.
  • Flexible clinical days support accessibility of the program


New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, 119 West 23rd St, Suite 401

New York City, NY 10011


Dates for 2024-2025

  • THUR, Sept 5 
  • THUR Sept 12
  • WED, Sept 25 (CC Retreat)
  • THUR, Oct 10
  • THUR, Oct 24
  • THUR, Oct 31
  • THUR, Dec 5
  • THUR, Dec 12
  • THUR, Dec 19
  • THUR, Jan 9
  • WED, Jan 22 (Winter Sesshin)
  • THUR, Feb 6
  • THUR, Feb 20
  • THUR, Feb 27
  • THUR, Mar 13
  • THUR, Mar 27
  • THUR, Apr 3
  • THUR, Apr 17
  • THUR, Apr 24 
  • THUR, May 8  (and Completion Ceremony at 4:30pm)

Our Contemplative CPE Education Program is based in New York City and is designed for people who have completed our Foundations in Contemplative Care program. Students must attend all educational training days in person.  


  • 3 Letters of recommendation: 1) from a Buddhist teacher or spiritual teacher who endorses your spiritual practice, 2) from an academic reference, and 3) from a personal reference
  • Interview
  • Availability to do all your clinical hours in one of our clinical partner institutions*


Please email info@zencare.org for an application


*Please note that for students living outside of New York City, the need of finding a local clinical placement is the student’s responsibility. The student will have to be very proactive and innovative to create the clinical placement relationship. Once the student has identified a potential clinical placement with an institution that is open to creating a relationship with us, someone from the Zen Center will reach out to the institution to determine whether a clinical placement is possible. 


Annual Notice Policy

The cost for the nine-month program is $6545 (two extended units x $3272.50 per unit).

  • This does not include the cost of the two required in-person retreats.
  • Space is limited. Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Admissions are rolling and on-going.

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.


1 Concourse Pkwy, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA  30328


Tel: 404.320.1472

Fax: 404.320.0849


Program FAQs

  • CPE serves as a part of one’s preparation for chaplaincy, lay ministry, teaching, and counseling. A student’s learning contract may be focused on integration of spiritual, psychological, and contemplative insights into spiritual functioning for work.
  • Some students, after completing several units of CPE, choose to enroll in Educator CPE working toward certification as an ACPE Certified Educator. In Educator CPE the student learns the theory and practice of education and has an experience of educating CPE students under the guidance and with the consultation of an ACPE Certified Educator.
  • ACPE certified CPE develops the capacity for the spiritual care of individuals, families, and systems.

We offer clinical placement in a number of different kinds of settings. In many of the settings, such as general hospitals, mental health facilities, correctional institutions, children’s hospitals, and nursing homes, you will care for individuals, families, and small groups of people as a chaplain.

If you have never participated in a dynamic, interpersonal, process educational experience, you may be curious about what it will be like. A foundational task will be for the other interns, your educator, and you to share with each other in such a way that all are cared for, supported, and challenged without being belittled. Furthermore, since an individual best knows their own limits, everyone will need to respect others boundaries and work to negotiate appropriate learning relationships. Developing a learning environment that is supportive, stimulating, and safe will make the risks of interpersonal learning and growth worth taking.

No, because we believe Foundations is a core learning for the path of an integrated life of service, and those who go through Foundations develop a strong connection to the path and sangha.

While non-local students are encouraged to apply, in-person participation at our CPE Educational Days and NYZC retreats in New York City and in the surrounding areas is required for all students. Please note that for non-local students (those who live outside of the New York metropolitan area), the challenge of finding a clinical placement is the student’s responsibility. The student will have to be very proactive and innovative to create the clinical placement relationship. Once the student has identified a potential clinical placement with an institution that is open to creating a relationship with us, someone from the Zen Center will reach out to the institution to determine whether a clinical placement is possible.

  • Master’s Degree in a related field to include education, social work, divinity, psychology, etc. NYZC is partnered with University of the West to offer a Master of Arts in Buddhist Spiritual Care degree.
  • Formal Soto Zen Student of one of NYZC’s Guiding Teachers and having received Jukai
  • Practicing weekly with the sangha on Monday and/or Wednesday evenings, Sunday morning and weekly dokusan
  • Participation annually in at least two Zen Center residential retreats
  • Completion of a minimum of four units of Clinical Pastoral Education
  • Daily meditation practice
  • Sustaining Member of the New York Zen Center
  • Weekly psychotherapy for at least three years


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