This unit offers an introduction to the understanding of family life. Insights from the Social Sciences will be informed and critiqued by cultural and theological themes. The different phases of married life and the characteristics of each phase of the life cycle will be explored. Specific focus issues in the pastoral care of families and family ministry will be addressed.

The course will outline the factors that contribute to family wellbeing and review those factors that challenge spiritual health and family integrity. Christian and Scriptural teaching on the family will be integrated with these theories. An important focus will be the role of the family in providing a sacred space of ‘safe holding’ that encourages and nurtures the spiritual formation of children in faith.

Unit code: DP1610A

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 1

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate an understanding of the intra-familial dynamics from a pastoral, spiritual and theological Christian perspective


Identify and describe the different family stages and illustrate the dynamics involved in each


Identify the roles and complementary tasks of family members, and through case study reflection describe how the family can nurture the Christian formation of children.


Describe and theologically reflect upon the cultural, sociological, spiritual and developmental challenges presented to families and develop appropriate pastoral responses within their own context.


Blended mode, synchronous and asynchronous. Pre-recorded readings, weekly tutorials, group discussions, case studies, guided reading.

Indicative Bibliography

Balswick, J.O, Balswick, J.K. Family: A Christian perspective on the contemporary home. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.

Coniaris, A.M. Crown Them with Glory and Honor: Talks for Weddings. Edina, MN: Light and Life Publishing Company, 1985.

Evdokimov P. The sacrament of Love. NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001.

Glick ID, et al. Marital and Family Therapy. Airlington: American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 2000.

Johnson, Susan M. Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Individuals, Couples, and Families. NY: Guildford Press, 2019.

Mack J. Preserve them, O Lord. Los Angeles: Conciliar Press, 2005.

McConnell, Susan. Somatic Internal Family Systems Therapy: Awareness, Breath, Resonance, Movement, and Touch in Practice. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2020.

MacKinlay, E. Spiritual growth and care in the fourth age of life. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006.

Mackinlay, E. Ageing, disability and spirituality: Addressing the challenge of disability in later life. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.

Yotsidi, V., Stalikas, A., Pezirkianidis, C., & Pouloudi, M. "The relationships between client resistance and attachment to therapist in psychotherapy." Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy: On the Cutting Edge of Modern Developments in Psychotherapy, 49.2 (2019), 99-109.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Summative Reflection 2000 50.0
Essay 2000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 14 Oct, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-10-14 15:23:31 +1100