This unit will explore a broad range of personal, professional and ethical issues common in pastoral ministry, offering students an opportunity to engage in a reflexive process on pastoral practice. The unit will emphasise the interrelatedness of theory and practice in ministry, and the intersection of the personal and the professional. It will focus on issues such as: personal calling and discernment; personal virtues and professional skills as foundations to ethical practice; professional ethics; ethical decision making; confidentiality; professional boundaries, power and trust; and potential areas of professional misconduct. The unit will also focus on the significance of reflection, professional consultation and supervision in the maintenance of a compassionate and just ministry, and ministerial and spiritual health and wellbeing.

Unit code: DP9006Y (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Compare and contrast various ethical approaches within the “helping professions”


Analyse, articulate and reflect theologically on professional ethics in a pastoral setting


Demonstrate and illustrate a clear understanding of ethical standards in pastoral practice


Critically analyse complex ethical dilemmas within a pastoral setting, demonstrating theory, ethical decision-making and ethical resolutions


Demonstrate an integrated understanding of the personal, professional and ethical complexities of the pastoral setting


Demonstrate a critical understanding of current research on healthy, ethical formation and practice, and reflect on this understanding for personal pastoral practice

Unit sequence

DP8001Y Foundations of Pastoral Practice


Lecture, seminars, and group work

Indicative Bibliography

  • Anderson, Ray S. Spiritual Caregiving as Secular Sacrament: A Practical Theology for Professional Caregivers. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2003.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Hawkins, Peter and Robin Shohet. Supervision in the Helping Professions. 4th ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2012. (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.
  • Trull, Joe E. & Robert Creech. Ethics for Christian Ministry: Moral Formation for Twenty-First-Century Leaders. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic Press, 2017. (recommended for purchase)
  • Welfel, Elizabeth Reynolds. Ethics in Counseling & Psychotherapy: Standards, Research and Emerging Issues. 6th ed. Sydney: Cengage Learning, 2015.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay: A focus on three significant elements in one ethical code. An advanced understanding of the value and use of ethical codes will be required. (2500 words)

2500 30.0

An ethical dilemma within a pastoral practice setting. An advanced understanding of theory and the significance of reflexive practice must be demonstrated in this essay. (3500 words)

3500 50.0

Essay: Compare and contrast two different ethical codes. (1500 words)

1500 20.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2020-10-30 19:16:47 +1100