Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, Ph.D.

Dean of the Seminary, Director of the Shaw Chaplaincy Institute; Shaw Family Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Education; ACPE Certified Educator
San Francisco Theological Seminary

Photo of Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, Ph.D.


Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union

MDiv, ThM Princeton Theological Seminary


Marin Campus
P: 415.451.2889

Meet Laurie

Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina joined the faculty at San Francisco Theological Seminary in the Fall of 2006, and is currently Dean of the Seminary. She occupies the Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education and has the charge to implement and supervise the Clinical Pastoral Education program. Laurie comes from Charlotte, N.C., where from 2000-2006 she served as CPE faculty in the Department of Pastoral Care and Education for the Carolinas HealthCare System. For the last 4 years she was the Assistant Director of the Mecklenburg Acute Care System (MACS) Chaplains and Coordinator of Pastoral Care and Education at CMC-Mercy Hospital. She is a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and a chaplain.

Laurie was pastor of Smallwood Presbyterian Church, in Charlotte, N.C., from 2001-2006. Laurie is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, where she earned Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees. She did her undergraduate work at Syracuse University where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), and originally comes from Indianapolis, Ind. At the age of 15, Laurie was elected an elder at her home church, Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Ind. Laurie is married to Michael Cobbina, who serves Seton Medical Center, Daly City, Calif., as a Staff Chaplain.

Laurie completed several specialized training programs and is a certified practitioner of guided imagery, reiki, in-surgery spiritual care, as well as small group facilitator, workshop leader and lecturer. Laurie has been a contributing author for many books, including Theologies from REM Women of Color, Editor Patricia Wilson; Promise of the Soul by Dennis Kenny; and Having My Say: Reflections on Justice Ministries 1969-1999 by Gerald Cunningham. She has been a faculty lecturer and workshop leader for California Pacific Medical Center and was featured on National Public Radio in April 2000.

In 2020, Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina received the Helen Flanders Dunbar Award  by the ACPE for pioneering contributions to the CPE movement; recipients demonstrate excellence in leadership, research, innovative programming, and upholding the mission and values of ACPE. The award was formally presented in May, 2020.

Teaching Philosophy

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is an approach to theological education that emphasizes learning through the supervised practice of ministry. Learning occurs through experiential pastoral encounters that are critically reflected upon. Students increase their arts and skills for ministry, as well as their spiritual, conceptual and emotional preparedness for ministry. Exploring what makes one's action, activity, or person "pastoral" is the primary focus of the clinical method used in CPE.

Can pastors, religious professionals and lay leaders become liberated competent ministers who have a theological, psychological and pastoral conceptual framework informed by critical self-reflection that integrates knowledge of self, others, systems and God in their ministry praxis? Laurie believes, YES! Her passion is invested in participating in the development of spiritual leaders.

Courses Taught

Clinical Pastoral Education

Critical Self-Reflection

Critical Theological Reflection

Organizational Structures

Group Processes

Family Dynamics


On Pastoral Care and Interior Transformation

Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, PhD explores the educational experience of pastoral care and interior transformation here at SFTS.

Trauma and Pastoral Care during COVID19—Overview

Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina shares her thoughts on how pastoral and spiritual care can help us cope with stages of trauma during COVID19. If you are a pastor or chaplain, in ministry of any kind or a caregiver in public service, these thoughts may be helpful.

View The Series