2012 Conference

Pastoral Supervision – The fusion of Theology and Psychology in the service of Ministry

The theme of the Conference focussed on the fusion of fusion of theological reflection and psychological insight in pastoral supervision.  Our 2012 conference aimed to bring balance, fill gaps and integrate the two disciplines.

Our keynoted speaker was Jessica Rose who spoke to the theme: Rooted and Grounded in Love – a theological model for pastoral supervision.  

During her talk she spoke of the way pastoral work draws on two disciplines, psychology and theology, which make uneasy bedfellows. Pastoral supervision is a place where these impact on each other.

The phrase ‘rooted and grounded in love’ comes from Ephesians. To be rooted and grounded in love is to grasp the ‘breadth and length, height and depth’ – to know the invisible, transcendent world as well as the everyday, material world: the Christ who lived among us in history as well as the universal, cosmic Christ, the Logos, or deep structure of everything that is. The Logos enables us seek out our true nature.

To be rooted is to be able go down deep into the earth, to draw nourishment from the fertile darkness. To be grounded is to have a firm base from which to reach upwards and outwards into the light and air.

Starting with Michael Carroll’s work on ‘spiritual supervision’, we can add to it being rooted and grounded in a faith community (however that is defined) and psychological tradition, to provide a model that is:

  • Relational – whereby we are called into being by love
  • Incarnational – bringing psychological realism to theological contexts
  • Open to the movement of the Spirit

In this way we can flesh out our sense of the sacred, and our intuitions about human nature. The supervision encounter can be compared to a water source spreading out over the hill side, which is concentrated in a mill-stream to produce huge energy, and which then flows out in many different directions. Similarly, in supervision, we can subject our work to a rigorous and energising process, to emerge in a new form – the transformation being experienced by both supervisor and supervisee(s).

A few questions may help us to put the model into practice:

  • What is my faith community? Is it a community with which I worship or is it some other, looser network of friends, colleagues, the people I work with?
  • And what is my psychological community: the understanding of human beings that makes sense to me, and helps me understand what is going on in an encounter?
  • Am I sufficiently rooted in these not to be threatened by other people’s beliefs and approaches being different from my own?
  • Am I sufficiently grounded in them to expand, to seek, to grow?

Our answers to these questions may, of course, change and develop throughout our lives. And those answers may point us in new directions.

Jessica Rose is author of Sharing Spaces? Prayer and the Counselling Relationship (DLT 2002) and Church on Trial (DLT 2009)

Workshops were offered on:

1. Back to basics – ABC of Pastoral Supervision; for clergy who wanted to know more about pastoral supervision and how it might benefit them in their ministry. Led by Alison Moore

2. And Some Have Supervising Trust Upon Them; for those who find they’re expected to supervise, but want to be better equipped to do this. In this workshop we will identify the settings in which participants are required to offer supervision and consider what constitutes effective and ineffective practice. Led by Bill Bazely and Mogs Bazely

3. Reflective Practice in Pastoral Supervision; an experiential workshop led by Julia Barrett

4. Theological Reflection –  From works to grace?   For those from a therapeutic background who are seeking to integrate a faith dimension into the supervision they offer those in ministry or giving spiritual direction. Led by Andrew De Smet

5. The Road to Accreditation; an opportunity to explore the new proposed pathways to Accreditation for those considering or in the process of applying for accreditation. Led by Diane Clutterbuck

6. Reflective Practice in Pastoral Supervision; led by Julia Barrett