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Supervision in Spiritual Care using Critical Reflection

Elective unit for postgraduate students

Content: Critical spirituality is a way of working with what is meaningful in the context of seeking a socially just, diverse and inclusive society.  From this perspective, those engaged in this unit in spiritual care are encouraged to see the connections between individuals, families and communities which are often significant for spiritual and social support, for health and wellbeing.  What is central in critical spirituality is both valuing the individual experience of spirituality in all its diversity, with a critical perspective that asserts the importance of living harmoniously and respectfully at an individual, family and community levels.  Supervision using this perspective includes critical reflection: both a theory and a process which uses specific experiences to reflect on underlying assumptions and values that influence practice. This can be used as part of individual, peer or group supervision.  The aim is for chaplains, pastoral carers or others involved in spiritual care to develop skills in using critical reflection for supervision and practice using a critical spirituality framework.

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

  1. identify what is meant by critical spirituality and critical reflection.
  2. describe and discuss the difference between stage one and two of critical reflection.
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the theory and an ability to use processes of critical reflection in practice related activities;
  4. use critical reflection in supervision with an individual and in a small group setting and articulate clear connections with their practice.


Presentation and Reflection on Presentation  1500 words            25%
Reflective Journal 1500 words  25%
Videoed example of critical reflection in supervision (minimum 20 minutes) and 2,000 word reflection.             50%

Prerequisites: Students will normally have successfully completed DP8015S The Art of Supervision or DD8115F Introduction to Supervision and DD9116F Peer and Group Supervision or equivalent unit/s at another recognised institution.

Mode of Teaching: Lecture. Facilitated peer discussion groups. Video practicum. Students will be expected to participate in 6 hours of online exercises.

Offered: in 2019 on 28, 29 and 30 August and 4 and 25 October (9.30am – 4.30pm each day).

Teaching Methods: The subject will begin with a three day teaching block with an introduction to the theory and processes of critical reflection and an exploration of how these fit with a critical spirituality approach.  The facilitator will present an example of her own to model how the process can be used.  Participants will then bring an example of their own to work with as part of experiencing how critical reflection can be used in a supervision group focusing on the first and then second stages of critical reflection.  Participants will continue to explore this experience and share reflections by email between sessions as well as reflecting on their use of critical reflection in a specific aspect of practice.  In the final teaching day, participants will begin with exploring their experience of using critical reflection using the group in a critically reflective process. This is primarily an experiential subject and it is expected that students will attend and actively participate in all sessions.

Faculty: Fiona Gardner

Recommended reading:

* = set texts recommended for purchase

Cobb, M., Puchalski C., & Rumbold B. (eds) (2012) Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare, Oxford University Press.
Fook, J. & Gardner, F. (2007) Practising Critical Reflection: A Resource Handbook. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
* Gardner, F. (2011). Critical Spirituality: A Holistic Approach to Contemporary Practice. Farnham: Ashgate.
Hawkins, P, & Shohet, R. (2006) Supervision in the Helping Professions. (Third Edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Kavanagh, J. (2007). The World is our Cloister A Guide to the Modern Religious Life. Winchester, UK: O Books, John Hunt Publishing.
Lartey, E. (2006) Pastoral Theology in an Intercultural World.  Peterborough: Epworth Press.
McSherry, W. (2006) Making Sense of Spirituality in Nursing and Health Care Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Miller-McLemore, B. (2012) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology, London: Wiley/Blackwell.
Pattison, S. (2007) The Challenge of Practical Theology: Selected Essays, London: Jessica Kingsley.
Roberts, S. (ed) (2012) Professional Spiritual and Pastoral Care. Vermont: Skylight Publishing.
Sneed, R. A. (2010). Representations of Homosexuality: Black Liberation Theology and Cultural Criticism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Tacey, D. (2011). Gods and Diseases: Making Sense of our Physical and Mental Well-being. Sydney: HarperCollins.
White, G. (2006). Talking about Spirituality in Health Care Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley.