This 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.

Moreover, 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 (Minor revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Spiritual Direction

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


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


Critically evaluate representative “life stage” models of human development and their relevance to spiritual direction


Critically apply the sociological, psychological and pastoral knowledge and life stage models of human development to the practice of spiritual direction


Critically analyse psychological aspects of self and others operating within spiritual direction sessions


Discern when and how a person needs to be referred to further support services


Demonstrate a critical understanding of, and sensitivity to, the needs of a culturally and linguistically diverse clientele in spiritual direction

Unit sequence

Co-requisites: DD8701Y and DD8705Y


Synchronous lectures, tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Dowrick, S. Intimacy and Solitude: How to Give Love and Receive It. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2014.
  • Fowler, James. Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. New York: HarperCollins, 1981.
  • Liebert, Elizabeth. Changing Life Patterns: Adult Development in Spiritual Direction. New York: Paulist Press, 1992.
  • Mackinlay, Elizabeth. The Spiritual Dimension of Ageing (2nd Ed.).
  • McKissock, M., and D. McKissock. Coping with Grief. 4th ed. Sydney: HarperCollins, 2012.
  • Moody, Harry, and David Carroll. The Five Stages of the Soul. London: Rider, 1998.
  • Moore, T. Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. New York: Gotham, 2004.
  • Peck, M. Scott. Further Along the Road Less Travelled: The Unending Journey Toward Spiritual Growth. New York: Touchstone, 1993.
  • Rosenberg, Marshall, B. Non-violent Communication: A language of life. CA: PuddleDancer Press, 2015.
  • Whitehead, E., and J. Whitehead. Transforming Our Painful Emotions. New York: Orbis, 2010.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

3000 word essay

3000 50.0
Personal Reflection

2000 word personal reflection

2000 30.0
Case Study

1000 word case study

1000 20.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 30 Aug, 2023

Unit record last updated: 2023-08-30 10:52:06 +1000