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Pastoral and Spiritual Interventions with Children: Trauma and Transition

Elective unit for postgraduates – also taught online as DP2/3/9720S

Content: This unit in practical theology explores issues in contemporary life where children experience challenges to spiritual, emotional and psychological health. Using the method of Theological Reflection, via case study and verbatim engagement, the unit seeks to link the experience of helping children in times of trauma and transition with Scripture, theological thought, spiritual and psychological development. The unit seeks to facilitate more informed ministry practice in pastoral care, spiritual development and religious education.

Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

Articulate a theology of the child “in the midst” as a gift and grace from God for the church.
Describe and evaluate a range of issues that affect the healthy development and spiritual life of children.
Identify aspects of church life, ministry and pastoral care where interventions can be developed to help children and their families.
(third level) Articulate and integrate within a practice framework a ‘theology of the child’ that demonstrates professional accountability and pastoral competence.
(postgraduate) Research and evaluate, having regard for a ‘theology of the child,’ a range of intervention strategies to help children and their families.


2nd level
Essay – 2000 words 50%
Oral and written presentation of case study – 1000 words 25%
Reflection paper – 1000 words 25%

3rd level
Essay – 2500 words 50%
Oral and written presentation of Case Study – 1000 words 25%
Reflection paper – 1000 words 25%

Essay – 3000 words 50%
Oral and written presentation of Case Study- 1500 words 25%
Response to Scripture – 1500 words 25%

Prerequisites: Nil – although DA1/8015S Children and Families Ministry: Core issues in diverse contexts is desirable

Teaching Methods:

Lectures to the whole group with opportunity for dialogue groups, peer presentations and discussion.
Weekly guided reading that will extend the group discussion and inform the assessment tasks.
Use of the web to extend discussion.
Personal research and reflection using a case study.
Faculty: Dr Vivienne Mountain

Offered: semester 1 in 2017 (face to face and online)

Recommended reading:

click here to download the reading pack for this unit (11 mb)

* = set texts recommended for purchase

Bunge, Marcia (ed). The Child in the Bible. Grand Rapis MI: Eerdmans, 2008.
Emanuel, Louise & Bradley, Elizabeth What can the matter be?- therapeutic interventions with parents, infants and young children London: Karnac 2008.
Greenspan, Stanley. The Secure Child. USA: De Capo, 2002.
* Grose, Michae.l Thriving! – raising exceptional kids with confidence, character and resilience North Sydney: Bantam 2010.
Hay, David. Something there- the Biology of the Human Spirit. Philadelphia: Templeton foundation, 2006.
Jensen, David. Graced vulnerability- a theology of chilhood Clevelan: Pilgrim press 2005.
Kotze, Elmarie, van Duuran, Linda & Small, Judy “Counselling as social action: Storying a Community of Care in the aftermath of violence” Australia and New Zealand Journal of family therapies Vol 32, no 3 pp 194-207. 2011.
* Landreth, Garry. Play Therapy- the Art of Relationship. New York: Brunner- Routledge, 2002.
Mercer, Joyce. Welcoming children- a practical theology of childhood Danvers MA:Chalice 2005.
Miller-McLemore, Bonnie. In the Midst of Chaos. United States: Jossey-Bass, 2007.
Mountain, Vivienne. Children’s prayer- multifaith perspectives Melbourne: CRA, 2016.
Music, Graham. Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children’s Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development. New York: Psychology press, 2011.
Rahner, Karl, “Ideas for a theology of childhood” Theological investigations V.8 Further theology of the spiritual life, 2 London: Darton Longman & Todd, 1997.
Richard, Anne & Peter Privett. Through the eyes of a child – new insights in theology from a child’s perspective London: Church House 2009
*Seigel, Daniel & Mary Hartzell. Parenting from the inside Out. USA: Penguin 2004.