This unit explores the impacts and experiences of trauma in human experience, including via industrial and workplace disasters, natural disasters, tragic accidents, domestic violence, child abuse, assaults and murder. It will begin by helping students to develop a broad understanding of the trauma and its psychobiological impacts on individual development and relationships. It will then focus on trauma in these contexts, including an exploration of complex trauma which emerges as a consequence of international conflict/war and terrorism. The unit also explores theological and spiritual perspectives on trauma, as well as psychological, pastoral and spiritual support strategies for victims of trauma. It also introduces concepts of post-traumatic growth in relation to pastoral care.

Unit code: DP9005Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


articulate and illustrate a broad understanding of the complex experience of trauma


critically analyse and compare the key elements of a range of traumatic experiences


articulate, analyse and critically reflect on specific psychological aspects of trauma experience


articulate, analyse and critically reflect on specific theological aspects of traumatic experience


demonstrate an understanding of various intervention strategies in the treatment of trauma and illustrate this through evaluating examples of pastorally integrated practice


critically review current research on the psychological, theological and spiritual impacts of trauma and outline appropriate pastoral responses

Unit sequence

DP8001Y: Foundations for Pastoral Practice A brief, confidential interview with the lecturer will be required prior to enrolment in this unit in relation to its traumatic content


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

Indicative Bibliography

  • Briere, John and Catherine Scott. Principles of Trauma Therapy: A Guide to Symptoms, Evaluation, and Treatment. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2014.
  • Courtois, Christine A. and Julian D. Ford, eds. Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: Scientific Foundations and Therapeutic Models. New York: Guilford Press, 2013.
  • Herman, Judith L. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books, 2015.
  • Jones, Serene. Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World. 2nd edition. Louisville, KY: Westminister, 2019.
  • Joseph, Stephen. What Doesn't Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
  • Park, Crystal L., Joseph M. Currier, J. Irene Harris, and Jeanne M. Slattery. Trauma, Meaning and Spirituality. Translating Research into Clinical Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2017.
  • van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York: Penguin Books, 2015.
  • Walker, Donald F., Christine A. Courtois, and Jamie D. Aten, eds. Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy for Trauma. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2014.
  • Werdel, Mary Beth and Robert J. Wicks. Primer on Posttraumatic Growth: An Introduction and Guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012.
  • Wilson, John P. and Boris Drožđek. Broken Spirits: The Treatment of Traumatized Asylum Seekers, Refugees, War and Torture Victims. New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2004.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Variant 1

Critical Review

Critically review two key articles or book chapters

1500 20.0

Essay: An exploration of two key areas of trauma, comparing and contrasting the theory, experience and intervention. An advanced conceptual understanding is required.

2500 30.0

Essay: Review and critique a specific traumatic experience, based on psychological and theological perspectives, and pastoral implications. An advanced conceptual and pastoral understanding should be demonstrated.

3500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 6 Sep, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-06 12:46:34 +1000