Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, which reflects the standard volume of learning for a unit in a University qualification of this Australian Qualifications Framework type. 

Unit rationale, description and aim

Graduates of programs in Spirituality should be able to critically articulate the interrelationships between their spiritual development and their personal and professional roles, as well as developing knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the discipline. Pastoral psychology occurs at the nexus between theology and psychology and strives to integrate these disciplines. It is open to the spiritual and transcendent dimensions of the human person. In this unit students will analyse, synthesise and evaluate insights from psychology, frameworks for theological reflection, and practical listening skills. Students will explore, from a narrative perspective, the skills required to support and enable effective helping relationships. Although focusing primarily on Narrative Therapy, the aim of this unit is to introduce students to a range of psychological theories and methods of theological reflection in order to provide them with a number of approaches to pastoral care. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Explain the Narrative Therapy approach to pastoral care (GA1); 

LO2 - Under supervision, reflect on and demonstrate an integrated and nuanced practice of the skills that inform a narrative approach to pastoral care in ministry settings (GA5); 

LO3 - Integrate critically a psychological theory with an aspect of their personal narrative (GA5; GA8); 

LO4 - Undertake theological reflection on their ministry experience (GA5; GA8); 

LO5 - Analyse their personal projects and describe how they have helped to form their personality (GA1; GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics include: 

  • Reflection on students’ personal journey; 
  • Reflection on students’ life and ministry experience from psychological and theological perspectives in order that they might empathically accompany others; 
  • Psychological theories providing multiple perspectives on pastoral care including: Self-Determination Theory, the Shadow and Projection, Schema Therapy, Compassion-Focused Therapy, and Personal Project Analysis, underpinned by theological reflection; 
  • The relationship between practitioner and client, spiritual director and directee; 
  • Topics will be studied in an experiential, safe, yet challenging environment, in which students will learn:
  • how to engage critically with various psychological theories; 
  • methods for reflecting theologically on ministry experiences; 
  • therapeutic methods drawn from narrative practice; 
  • different theological and psychological understandings of the human person; 
  • the application of psychological and theological insights to various ministries of the pastoral care. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

THSP502 will be delivered in multi-mode, that is, in various combinations of face to face and mediated learning environments, utilising strategies which may include: 

  • Self-directed activities (such as completing scaffolded reading tasks or web-based exercises) which enable each student to build a detailed understanding of a topic; 
  • Small-group tasks and activities (such as contributing to discussion forums or undertaking peer review) which enable students to test, critique, expand and evaluate their understandings; 
  • Plenary seminars and webinars which enable students to link their understandings with larger frameworks of knowledge and alternative interpretations of ideas; 
  • Practical or fieldwork activities which enable students to rehearse skills necessary to the discipline and to be mentored in that practice; 
  • Critically reflective activities (such as a guided Examen or private journal-writing) which assist students to learn reflexively, that is, to identify their affective responses to the learning and to integrate their learning with action. 

The unit is delivered with the expectation that participants are adult learners, intrinsically motivated and prepared to reflect critically on issues as well as on their own learning and perspectives. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to complete all assessment tasks and achieve an overall minimum grade of pass. All assessment tasks are designed for students to show their achievement of each learning outcome and graduate attribute. They require students to demonstrate the nexus between their learning, dispositions, and spiritual practice, and the evidence on which this demonstration is based. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

1. Plain-language report (1500 words) explaining Narrative Therapy. This task is designed to enable students to demonstrate their understanding of narrative therapy. 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA5

2. Online discussion board contributions (equivalent to 1000 words). Theological reflections based on ministry experience. This task is designed to provide students with an opportunity to reflect theologically on their own and others’ ministry experiences. 



GA5, GA8

3. Essay (3500 words). This task is designed to enable students to demonstrate (through psycho-autobiography) their integration of aspects of their life story with a relevant psychological theory. 


LO2, LO3, LO5

GA1, GA5, GA8

Gilbert, Paul. The Compassionate Mind. London: Constable and Robinson, 2009. 

Killen, Patricia, John de Beer. The Art of Theological Reflection. New York: Crossroad, 1994.

Little, Brian. Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being. New York: Ingram Publisher Services, 2016. 

Little, Brian. Who are you really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality. London: Simon and Schuster, 2017. 

Morgan, Alice. What is Narrative Therapy? An Easy-to-read Introduction. Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications, 2000. 

Ryan, Richard, and Edward L. Deci. Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness. New York: The Guilford Press, 2018. 

White, Michael. Maps of Narrative Practice. New York: Norton Professional Books, 2007. 

White, Michael, and David Epston. Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990. 

Whitehead, Evelyn, and James Whitehead. Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. London: Sheed and Ward, 1995. 

Young, Jeffrey, and Janet S. Klosko. Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behaviour and Feel Great Again. Brunswick, VIC: Scribe Publications, 2019. 

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