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Pastoral Responses to Mental Health Issues

This unit explores the nature of mental illness, in particular, the spiritual dimension of mental illness and the nature of spiritual care. The issues raised will be critically examined in order to develop an understanding of the inherent dignity of the individual living with a mental illness and how they find meaning and purpose within this context. Through reflection, case study and group interaction the unit aims to increase participants’ working knowledge of current issues and integrate approaches to mental health and spirituality within the practice. The unit provides an alternative pastoral view to the current medical paradigm that is consistent with spiritual care and healthcare practice. The course will develop skills in assessing the spiritual needs of the person through the listening process and then enable reflection on an appropriate pastoral response. A critical familiarity with current thought and research in this field is explored throughout the unit and there will be a special focus on critical responses to the publication of DSM 5.

Lecturer: Sr Rosalind Cairns & Dr Chris Turner 
Offered: Refer to Timetable

Undergraduate: Level 3
Postgraduate: Level 9 Elective

Discipline: DP Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies 


One foundational (level 1) unit in Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies
One foundational (level 8) unit in Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a holistic awareness of the relationship between spirituality and mental health and an awareness of the spiritual and religious needs of people living with mental illness; 
2. Evaluate an understanding of the impact of the illness on all aspects of the person’s life within a family and societal context, particularly the impact of stigma, guilt, shame, abuse, loss of identity, and disenfranchised grief; 
3. Critically discuss a theological and spiritual rationale for the pastoral care of people with mental health issues;
4. Demonstrate a pastoral awareness of the ethical issues, responsibilities and boundary-setting criteria necessary for those working in the mental health field (including referral skills and multidisciplinary and interfaith sensitivity); 
5. (Postgraduate) Integrate practical theological reflection with contemporary research that engages with the practice paradigm that drives mental health policy and treatment in Australia. 


Undergraduate Level 3

Case Study (2000 words) 50%
Research Essay (2500 words) 50%

Undergraduate Level 3

Case Study (3500 words) 50%
Research Essay (3500 words) 50%

Select Bibliography:

*Recommended reading

Clarke, I. Psychosis and Spirituality: Exploring the New Frontier. London: Whurr Publishers, 2001.
Cobb, M, Puchalski, C. & Rumbold, B. (eds), Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Gardner, F. Critical Spirituality: A Holistic Approach to Contemporary Practice. FarnhamAshgate, 2011
Gordon, T., Kelly, E., Mitchell, D. Spiritual Care for Healthcare Professionals: Reflecting on Clinical Practice. London: Radcliffe, 2011.
Kelleher, R. A Voice at the Table: An Integrated Model for Pastoral Care in Aged Mental Health. Mulgrave: John Garrett Publishing, 2011
Koenig, H. Faith and Mental Health: Religious Resources for Healing. Philadelphia,PA: Templeton, 2005
Louw, D., Ito, T. and Elsdorfer, U. Encounter in Pastoral Care and Spiritual Healing: Towards and Integrative and Intercultural Approach, Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2012
McSherry, W., & Ross, L. (eds) (2010). Spiritual assessment in healthcare practice. Keswick, M&K Publishing
Roberts, S. (ed.) Professional, Spiritual and Pastoral Care: A Practical Clergy and Chaplain’s Handbook, Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2012
Swinton, John. Spirituality and Mental Health Care: Rediscovering a ‘Forgotten’ Dimension. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2001 
Vanier, J. Seeing Beyond Depression, London: Harper Collins, 2001