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Pastoral and Spiritual Care and Families

This unit will build upon the theories and principles of structure, development and system that affect diverse forms of family. The emphasis will be on spiritual care through the events and cycles that contribute to, and influence multiple forms of family. The issues, questions and challenges that arise for families in their pursuit of meaning, well-being, identity and health will be examined through multi-cultural and multi-faith lenses. In addition to exploring the nature and meaning of family itself, the unit also addresses specific theological questions relating to the human person, sexual identity, gender identity and fluidity, power and justice, conflict, abuse, marriage and divorce. Opportunities are provided for group and individual reflection on issues arising in the spiritual care context. A case study approach invites the student to engage in the process of reflective practice.

Lecturer: Refer to Timetable
Offered: Refer to Timetable

Undergraduate: Level 2 & 3
Postgraduate: Level 9 elective

Discipline: DP Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies  

3 x foundational units (Level 1 or 8)

Learning Outcomes: 

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

    1. Describe and illustrate how approaches to spiritual care can equip diverse forms of families to discover their own unique identity and spiritual resources for flourishing.
    2. Reflect, with critical awareness, on their own experiences of family and demonstrate critical insight into the spiritual resources that are manifest in those experiences.
    3. Describe and develop approaches to spiritual care for those who experience traumatic events change or transition within family structures and relationships.
    4. Identify and develop resources for spiritual care in situations of violence and abuse, including spiritual abuse, within families and their communities and become familiar with the spiritual and theological themes of the use and abuse of power.
    5. (third level) Integrate life-cycle and developmental theory with the spiritual care of families.
      (postgraduate) Draw on developmental, life-cycle, and systems theory in order to integrate a theological and spiritual approach to care for people through the life-cycle.


Undergraduate: Level 2
Case Study (1000 words) 25%
Essay (2000 words) 50%
Reflective Reading Journal (1000 words) 25%

Undergraduate: Level 3
Case Study (1000 words) 25%
Essay (2500 words) 50%
Reflective Reading Journal (1500 words) 25%

Postgraduate: Level 9
Case Study (1500 words) 25%
Essay (3000 words) 50%
Reflective Reading Journal (1500 words) 25%

Select Bibliography:

*Recommended reading

Balswick, J.O, Balswick J.K Family: A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.

Radford-Reuther R. Christianity and the making of the modern family, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2000

Howe, B.  Weighing up Australian values: Balancing transitions and risks to working families in modern Australia, Sydney, University of NSW, 2007.

Susan Golombok, Modern Families: Parents and Children in New Family Forms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015

Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller, Toward a theology of Eros. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006.

Adrian Thatcher, Theology and Families. Melbourne: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Barton, S.C. (ed.) The Family in Theological Perspective. Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1996.

Birkett, K. The Essence of Family. Sydney: Matthias, 2004.

Pamela Lightsey, Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology. Eugene: Oregon, 2015.

Kerig, P. Adolescence and Beyond: Family Processes and Development. Oxford: OUP, 2011.

McGoldrick, M. (ed.) Ethnicity and Family Therapy. New York: Guildford, 2005.

McKnight, J. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbourhoods. San Francisco: BK Publishers, 2012.

Parke, S. Forsaking the Family: Jesus, Childhood, and the Search for Freedom. London: SPCK, 2005.