Content One aspect of the unit examines spiritual development in the context of human development. Several “life stage” models of human development will be examined to elucidate the extensive changes that an individual’s spiritual growth encompasses over a lifetime. The following fundamental human experiences will be explored from the developmental perspective: painful emotions; grief and loss; gender identity and sexuality; love and friendship.

Another aspect of the unit highlights the Spiritual Director’s understanding of, and response to, directees with special needs. It addresses methods for recognising directees who may be undergoing more serious mental health problems, and how to refer them appropriately to professional mental health services. It also addresses cross-cultural factors in spiritual direction, ensuring the culturally and linguistically diverse directee’s cultural framework is respected and idioms of spiritual expression are understood and valued.

Unit code: DD8703Y

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Spiritual Direction

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Demonstrate an understanding of the sociological, psychological and pastoral underpinnings of the ministry of spiritual direction


Understand and explain representative “life stage” models of human development and their relevance to spiritual direction


Apply this knowledge and understanding to the practice of spiritual direction


Recognise when a person needs to be referred to a qualified professional in mental health services and to whom this referral can be made


Demonstrate sensitivity to the needs of a culturally and linguistically diverse clientele


Lectures, tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Cooper, Austin. Julian of Norwich: Reflections on Selected Texts, Strathfield: St Pauls, 1986.
  • Delio, Ilia. The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2013.
  • Don, Megan. Falling into the Arms of God: Meditations with Teresa of Avila. Navoto, CA: New World Library, 2005.
  • Dowrick, S. Intimacy and Solitude: How to Give Love and Receive It. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2014.
  • Erikson, E. H., and J. M. Erikson. The Life Cycle Completed: Extended Version. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.
  • Flanagan, Sabina, trans. Secrets of God: Writings of Hildegard of Bingen. London: Shambala, 1996.
  • McKissock, M., and D. McKissock. Coping with Grief. 4th ed. Sydney: HarperCollins, 2012.
  • Moberg, D. O., ed. Aging and Spirituality: Spiritual Dimensions of Aging. New York: Howarth Press, 2001.
  • Moody, H. R., and D. Carroll. The Five Stages of the Soul. New York: Random House, 1998.
  • Moore, T. Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
  • Moore, T. Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. New York: Gotham, 2004.
  • Stevens, R. Erik Erikson: Explorer of Identity and the Life Cycle. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008.
  • Whitehead, E., and J. Whitehead. Nourishing the Spirit. New York: Orbis, 2012.
  • Whitehead, E., and J. Whitehead. Transforming Our Painful Emotions. New York: Orbis, 2010.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

3000 word essay on ‘life stage’ models of human development and reflecting on one’s own life experience, how these stages inform the practice of spiritual direction.

3000 50.0

3000 word essay on the special needs aspects of spiritual direction, how and why knowledge of these aspects is important for contemporary spiritual direction and on how to direct to qualified professionals in the field (the student’s practical experience may be useful as a resource for this assignment).

3000 14.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-05-03 09:57:19 +1000