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 develop knowledge and skills in this discipline and be able to reflect critically on the ways in which their personal development impacts upon their professional roles. This unit provides an advanced framework for action, reflection, and learning in the practice of spiritual conversation in Spiritual Direction and Supervision settings. This unit aims to skill practitioners to engage in spiritual conversation as a vehicle of formation of themselves and others.

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 - Engage critically with the core primary and secondary sources on Spiritual Direction, Supervision and spiritual conversation (GA7; GA9);

LO2 - Identify and articulate the main phases of the development of the spiritual conversation in the Christian tradition (GA7; GA9);

LO3 - Critique various perspectives on the place of spiritual conversation as an integral element of formation of the human person (GA7; GA9);

LO4 - Demonstrate the application of a theoretical and practice-based rationale for spiritual conversation using sacred texts, cultural analysis, and experience within the Christian tradition (GA7; GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • An overview of the nature and purpose of spiritual direction;
  • An overview of the nature and purpose of supervision;
  • Historical overview of the development of spiritual conversation within the Christian tradition;
  • Humanity and wholeness and the role of spiritual conversation;
  • An exploration of what it really means to ‘listen’;
  • Developing a personal rationale and method for spiritual conversation.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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.

THSP602 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. A learning critique and verbatim (3000 words equivalent). This task is designed to enable students to reflect critically on their appropriation and application of the methodology of spiritual practice in their own lives and ministry. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA7, GA9

2. Essay (3000 words). This task is designed to enable students to integrate the theoretical and practical dimensions of spiritual conversation in developing the capacity for ‘holy listening’.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA7, GA9

Representative texts and references

Carroll, Michael & Maria Gilbert. On Being a Supervisee: Creating Learning Partnerships. (2nd ed.). London: Vukani, 2011.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von. Engagement with God. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1972.

Barry, William, and William Connolly. The Practice of Spiritual Direction. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2009.

Gardner, Fiona. Critical Spirituality: A Holistic Approach to Contemporary Practice. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. 2011.

Guenther, Margaret. Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1992.

Groeschel, Benedict. Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development. New York: Crossroad, 1993.

McAlpin, Kathleen. Ministry that Transforms: A Contemplative Process of Theological Reflection. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009.

Merton, Thomas. Spiritual Direction and Meditation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1960.

Montgomery, Dan. God and your Personality. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1995.

Palmer, Martin. On Giving the Spiritual Exercises: The Early Jesuit Manuscript Directories and the Official Directory of 1599. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996.

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