University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Supervision in Spiritual Companionship

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION Those who engage in supervisory practice in spiritual accompaniment enter a challenging and complex world that, among other things, demands interaction with a sound theoretical base, an openness to transformational learning, the development of a repertoire of cognate skills, and a commitment to ongoing critical reflection and development. In its application to spiritual accompaniment, supervision is grounded in a theologically informed anthropology and an understanding of the nature of contemplative listening. Particular attention will be paid to the models of supervision developed in the caring professions.

According to Ekstein, supervision is a generic interpersonal or emotionally charged helping and learning process. This process is focused on the continuing practitioner development of persons involved in the practice of spiritual accompaniment. In effect, supervision is defined as a learning alliance supportive of practitioner transformational learning. This definition requires that participants in this module become alert to the basics of adult learning, to different adult learning styles, and the nature of transformative learning outlined by Professor Jack Mezirow and his associates. They will then need to become familiar with the generic tasks of supervision identified in the research of Professor Michael Carroll, and their application to spiritual accompaniment. Particular attention will be paid in this regard to the work of Maureen Conroy, Richard Pohly and Frances Ward.

Other areas of study include the supervisory contract, the role in transformational learning of disorienting dilemmas and critical self reflection on assumptions, the development of a meta-conscious position, the impact of parataxic distortion in the form of parallel process and the implications of supervisor/supervisee primordial experience, the impact on the supervisory relationship of the organisational rhombus, the issue of moments of difference, the basics of dialogical theory, fundamental thematic considerations in spirituality, and the nature of supervision as a contemplative and meditative process.

Study-Unit Aims:

By the end of the study-unit, the student should:
- acquire knowledge of the theoretical and practical nature of supervision as a transformative contribution to continuing practitioner education.
- develop a critical understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of supervision as it applies to spiritual accompaniment, particularly in the unfolding of the seven generic tasks of supervision.
- learn to critically evaluate the impact of practitioner assumptions and presuppositions in spiritual accompaniment.
- develop a critical awareness of parallel process and its impacts on the supervisory relationship.
- present the outline of a personal philosophy of supervision.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- grasp the inner dynamics at play in person asking for supervision and mentorship.
- be aware of the need to empathise with the directee.
- engage in practical interdisciplinary dialogue with psychology and anthropology to understand the directee.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- professionally offer the service of spiritual mentorship to directees asking for this service.
- apply interdisciplinary skills in analysing the inner dynamics and state of the directees.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- MAUREEN CONROY, Looking into the Well: Supervision of Spiritual Directors (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1995).
- MARY ROSE BUMPUS and REBECCA BRADBURN LANGER, eds., Supervision of Spiritual Directors: Engaging in Holy Mystery (Harrisburg, London: Morehouse, 2005).

Supplementary Readings:

- FRANCES WARD, Lifelong Learning: Theological Education and Supervision (London: SCM Press, 2005).
- KENNETH POHLY, Transforming the Rough Places: The Ministry of Supervision. Second edition. (Franklin, TN: Providence House Publishers, 2001).
- MICHAEL CARROLL, Counselling Supervision: Theory, Skills and Practice (London, New York: Continuum, 1996, reprinted 2003) chapter 4: The Seven Tasks of Supervision, 52-87.
- PETER HAWKINS and ROBIN SHOHET, Supervision in the Helping Professions. Second edition (Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2000).
- JACK MEZIROW and Associates, Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000).


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Jack Finnegan

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

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