Pastoral Counselling: Grief, Loss and Trauma

This unit provides an overview of the key concepts and main theoretical approaches pertinent in the pastoral counselling of people experiencing grief, loss and trauma. It further examines normal and pathological grief processes and equips the pastoral practitioner accordingly. Topics to be addressed will be selected from the nature and stages of grief the nature and meaning of death, various causes of grief reactions, recognising the dimensions of the normal uncomplicated grief process and facilitating normal grieving, pastoral counselling and care in relation to life crises and the terminally ill, the needs of the dying, and the needs of those experiencing grief from various losses, helpful and unhelpful support, and specific support groups, abnormal grief reactions and their appropriate management, strategies to prevent the pastoral practitioner becoming over-involved and the pastoral practitioner’s personal grief, basic crisis intervention skills including critical incident stress de-briefing, trauma counselling strategies and techniques for varying contexts.

Study Level



Christian Life and Ministry

Sub Discipline

Pastoral Counselling

Credit Points




Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. articulate Biblical perspectives on the nature of human relationships, family dynamics, and how suffering impacts the person
  2. critically evaluate culturally appropriate theories of pastoral counselling and interventions
  3. outline in broad terms how to approach grief, loss, and trauma issues in pastoral care and counselling and differentiate between them
  4. appreciate and define the importance of research and pastoral counselling theory for effective and responsible pastoral care and counselling
  5. address both the reactions of people facing issues related to the terminally ill, and various other significant losses, and appropriate and inappropriate forms of support, assistance and Pastoral Care and discriminate between them.
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