Chaplaincy Skills

Serving as a chaplain in a public institution is a double privilege that few get to experience. On the human level, it is a real privilege meeting with people whom you may never have met and connecting with them deeply. From the perspective of faith, it is connecting at depth with people who may never have darkened the door of a church, and commending Christ to them through word and deed. It can be gritty, it can be edgy, it can be hard, but it is an enormous privilege.
This subject seeks to introduce you to the basic perspectives and competencies you will need to work effectively as chaplains. It focuses on chaplaincy skills and practices, referrals and holistic care. The emphasis is on what chaplains are expected to know and be able to do in mental health management rather than on the biblical basis and theology of chaplaincy.

Please visit the timetable by clicking here for current information on subject availability.

Subject Details

Workload Intensive, 12 credit points
Status Elective
Subject code PC049
Teacher Ryan Holt

Section A: Chaplaincy and Chaplaincy Competencies
1. The role of the chaplain

  • Basic biblical and theological perspectives
  • Chaplaincy settings: schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, prisons
  • Situations and needs chaplains typically face
  • Current trends and issues in chaplaincy ministry

2. Aspects of well-being and mental health

  • Human needs, life stages and the generations
  • Personal and special needs (such as autism, disability, illness, abuse, neglect)
  • Mental illness (such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, self-harm, suicide)
  • Environmental (such as alcohol, drugs, bullying, harassment, stress, conflict)

Section B: Working with the Mental Health Sector
3. The mental health sector

  • Scope and character
  • Stakeholders
  • Levels and types of care: clinical and non-clinical services, support groups
  • Major psychiatric illnesses and the stigma surrounding them
  • National standards for mental health issues
  • Changes in mental health care
  • The legal system, including the police, courts and community treatment orders

4. Professional conduct of the chaplain

  • Principles of professional conduct: confidentiality, duty of care, access and equity, ethics and values, sustainability, working with people from culturally/linguistically different backgrounds
  • Organizational requirements: ethical standards, casework management protocols, procedures, record keeping
  • Legal framework: policy, legislation, regulations
  • Working with others and in teams

Section C: Pastoral Care for Chaplaincy
5. Foundational skills of the chaplain

  • Communication skills
  • Pastoral care skills
  • Preventative care: education, support groups, conflict management
  • Reactive care

6. Referral

  • Services and sources of assistance
  • Emergency and crisis situations
  • Cultural obligations and special needs in referrals
  • Review of outcomes

Section D: Chaplaincy in Practice
At least 20 hours under the supervision of a chaplain in at least one field setting, such as school, college, university, hospital, nursing home, community centre, courts, prison

Study Expectations

Allow 8-10 hours per week for this subject, including the field work.


We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri People, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Ridley College campus is built.
Ridley College is an affiliated college with the Australian College of Theology, CRICOS Provider Code 02650E.
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