Pastoral Care and Counsel

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1


The unit examines the world of counselling and caring from both Christian and secular perspectives, evaluates models of secular counselling and considers a Christian response.  Key terms are defined and distinctions explored.  Specific counselling problems are discussed including death, bereavement and grief, relationships and mental health issues, in particular depression.  An underlying theme is that the carer’s personal growth affects the caring or counselling relationship. Counselling skills are practised, in which the personal qualities, counselling skills and self-awareness of the students may be recognised and developed.  Life stages, human needs, and the place of the Christian pastor and community as central to these stages is considered.  The unit helps students to identify resources and support systems available for the pastoral carer.  Questions about referral, self-care, pastoral and counselling groups, secular resources and supervision are raised.


To introduce and explore the basic concepts of personal pastoral care and counsel so as to develop self-understanding and counselling skills as applied by the Christian minister or pastoral worker in the local church or community setting.


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·      Outline the development of significant aspects of counselling theory

Intellectual skills

·      Explain the relevance of human development for pastoral ministry

·      Evaluate some expressions of counselling and care in the wider community

Practical and Transferable skills; Personal qualities

·      Introduce and operate responsible patterns of pastoral care and counsel in a local church

·      Apply basic skills of structured personal conversation in pastoral care

·      Integrate theological understanding gained in other units with pastoral care and counsel

·      Cooperate well in a group


Assessment task


Weighting within unit


·      Case studies in class






·      An essay

·      A reflective journal*


2000 words

2000 words*




* Students are required to pass this element. So long as this element has been passed, they will be eligible for compensation if the overall unit mark is within the compensation zone (30-39%), and the compensatable credit allowance as set out in the Degree Regulations has not been exceeded.





Available on which programme(s)?

BA in Theology


1.    Pastoral Care and Counselling in Context

2.    Introduction to Listening Skills

3.    The importance of relationship: Carl Rogers and humanistic counselling

4.    The importance of the past and the unconscious: Freud / Psychodynamic counselling

5.    The importance of the life cycle: Human Development

6.    The importance of learning and thinking: CBT

7.    The importance of belief: Models of Christian Counselling

8.    Mental Health

9.    Depression, Suicide and Relationships

10.  Death and Bereavement

11.  Practicalities: Structures, Resources and Referral


Teaching method

Interactive lectures with small groups

Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015

Indicative reading

Bridger, F. and Atkinson, D., Counselling in Context: Developing a theological framework, (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1998)

Carson, M., The Pastoral Care of People with Mental Health Problems, (London: SPCK, 2008)

Goodliff, Paul, Care in a confused climate (London: DLT, 1998)

Hough, M., Counselling Skills and Theory, 4th edn, (London: Hodder, 2014)

Jacobs, M., Still Small Voice: An introduction to pastoral counselling (London: SPCK, 1993)

Jacobs, M., The Presenting Past: The core of psychodynamic counselling and therapy counselling and therapy (Buckingham: Open University Press, 2005)

Johnson, E., ed., Psychology and Christianity: Five Views, 2nd edn, (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2010)

Litchfield, K., Tend my Flock (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2006)

McLeod, J., An Introduction to Counselling, 4th edn (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2009)

Rose, J., Psychology for Pastoral Contexts: A Handbook, (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2013)

Ross, A., Counselling Skills for Church and Faith Community Workers (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2003)

Watts, F., Nye, R., and Savage, S., Psychology for Christian Ministry, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2002)

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Pastoral Care and Counsel

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 261





Hours of Learning:



Dotha N. Blackwood

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