This unit explores a comprehensive range of personal, professional, and ethical issues common to pastoral ministry, providing students with opportunities to engage in a reflexive process for reviewing their pastoral practice. The unit emphasises evidence-based practice in ministry, and the intersection of personal and professional outlooks in forming ministry practice. It focusses on: personal calling and discernment; personal virtues, strengths and professional skills as key foundations to for ethical practice; professional ethics and ethical decision making; confidentiality; and keeping professional boundaries; power and trust issues; and potential areas of professional misconduct. The unit also explores the significance of reflexive practice, professional consultation and supervision in maintaining a compassionate and just ministry; and the benefits of spiritual health and wellbeing for ministry practice.

Unit code: DP3006Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


compare and contrast some key ethical approaches used within various “helping professions”


analyse, articulate and review theologically for professional ethical practice in pastoral and spiritual settings


demonstrate and illustrate a clear understanding of ethical standards in pastoral and spiritual care contexts


critically analyse complex ethical dilemmas in pastoral and spiritual settings, by applying theory, ethical decision-making and ethical resolutions


manage personal, professional and ethical considerations when working in pastoral and spiritual settings

Unit sequence

DP1001Y Foundations of Pastoral Practice


Lecture, seminars, and group work with audiovisual resources, case studies, and guided reading.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Anderson, Ray S. Spiritual Caregiving as Secular Sacrament: A Practical Theology for Professional Caregivers. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2003.
  • Carroll, Michael and Maria C. Gilbert. On Being a Supervisee: Creating Learning Partnerships. London: Vakuni Publishing, 2011.
  • Carroll, Michael and Elisabeth Shaw. Ethical Maturity in the Helping Professions: Making Difficult Life and Work Decisions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013.
  • Corey, Gerald, M. S. Corey and Patrick Callanan. Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions. 9th ed. Sydney: Cengage Learning, 2014.
  • Davys, Allyson and Liz Beddoe. Best Practice in Professional Supervision: A Guide for the Helping Professions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010.
  • Estadt, Barry K., John R. Compton and Melvin Blanchette, eds. The Art of Clinical Supervision: A Pastoral Counseling Perspective. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2005.
  • Fook, Jan and Fiona Gardner. Practising Critical Reflection: A Resource Handbook. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press, 2008.
  • Gula, Richard M. Just Ministry: Professional Ethics for Pastoral Ministers. New York: Paulist Press, 2010. (recommended for purchase)
  • Lynch, Gordon. Pastoral Care & Counselling. Ethics in Practice, edited by Tim Bond. London: Sage Publications, 2002.
  • Robinson, Simon. Spirituality, Ethics and Care. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2008.
  • Welfel, Elizabeth Reynolds. Ethics in Counseling & Psychotherapy: Standards, Research and Emerging Issues. 6th ed. Sydney: Cengage Learning, 2015.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Variant 1


Essay: Compare and contrast two different ethical codes. (1000 words)

1000 20.0

A critical review of assigned reading on ethical issues in ministry - 150 words per week over ten weeks (1500 words)

1500 30.0

Review and critique an ethical issue within a pastoral practice context

2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 31 Aug, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-08-31 16:37:39 +1000