self-awareness and self-care

This course will be offered in English. A version in Maltese will be available at a later stage in the academic year.

This course is eligible for the Get Formed! scheme, allowing students to reclaim 70% of their course fees upon completion. For more information, visit:

This is a follow-up course which complements the ‘Emotional Support in the Community: Basic Skills’ course. This course focuses on and encourages the participants to engage in reflective practice, and to enhance the skills of self-awareness. It takes an in-depth look at issues related to transference and countertransference, and how these influence the individuals receiving the service.

The course then delves into the topic of mental health, focusing on supporting people with mental health issues, particularly when it comes to depression and anxiety. The course also aims to create an opportunity to discuss self-care practices, which are crucial to providing the best possible care.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of self-awareness and how to apply it to themselves in a personal and pastoral care context.
  • Define and describe transference and countertransference and what prompts them.
  • Comprehend the meaning of reflective practice, and hence begin to analyse their practices to gain a better understanding of quality service, which ensures a safe and positive working environment.
  • Grasp the concepts of mental health and mental health issues and how they affect daily life.
  • Explore what depression is (and is not) and highlight the difference between ‘normal’ anxiety and anxiety disorders.
  • Understand the importance of taking care of themselves as service providers.

The course is highly recommended for:

  • Those who completed Emotional Support in the Community: Basic Skills with the Pastoral Formation Institute. 
  • People who desire to enhance their listening abilities, to improve their relationships with family members, and co-workers.
  • Supportive individuals who wish to care for themselves in the process of helping others.

Target Audience Age: 18+

During their personal commitments, pastoral workers have a variety of experiences that help them better understand themselves.

Knowing oneself and becoming self-aware helps those involved in pastoral work relate to those with whom they are called to be in a relationship more effectively. It’s vital as they strive to treat others’ feelings, points of view, and circumstances with kindness and faithfulness.

In addition to self-awareness, emotional self-awareness encourages pastoral workers to investigate how their emotions influence their pastoral work. Hence, it is vital that they keep their emotions in check.

Countertransference occurs when the person receiving the service triggers the pastoral worker’s unconscious wants, desires, or experiences. In certain circumstances, pastoral professionals may be unaware of the needs or sentiments developing within themselves. As a result, a volunteer or pastoral worker must have good psychological health and emotional maturity.

Due to unresolved feelings, the pastoral worker or volunteer becomes a person from the past for the individual receiving the service through transference. A significant relationship is formed through association when a pastoral worker reminds a layperson of someone who has been a nurturing influence in their life.

Reflective practice in pastoral ministry is associated with an increased awareness of the minister’s own style in service, as well as validation of his or her own ideas. There may be room for constructive challenges to customary practices. This will aid in clarifying the role of the ministry in society.

Reflective practice also assists pastoral workers in identifying their own strengths and limitations and using this knowledge to encourage their peers to enhance their performance or service. Reflection will help the volunteer improve their self-directed learning ability, motivation, and the level of care they can provide.

Because pastoral workers engage with people on a daily basis, it is critical that they are aware of any mental health concerns that may be harming their service users’ well-being. During this session, we will have an overview of mental health concerns that may be affecting individuals we meet through our volunteer work.

As a result, they will recognize that good mental health entails being able to think, feel, and behave in ways that you need and want to live your life. However, if you experience a period of poor mental health, you may find that the ways you often think, feel, or react become difficult, if not impossible, to manage.

During this session, pastoral workers will gain a better understanding of the causes that contribute to depression, as well as how trauma can contribute to it. They will also appreciate the connections between childhood trauma and how adults function with and without depression and anxiety issues. With all this information, pastoral workers will learn how to support these individuals while respecting their autonomy.

There may be a misconception that self-care is unnecessary during pastoral work because a minister is supposed to devote their lives to others with boundless love. However, pastoral workers will become more conscious of the importance of self-care during this session. They are less likely to break boundaries, burn out, or engage in risky behavior if they practice self-care, which helps lower overall stress and helps them achieve balance. They are becoming more aware that when they take care of themselves, they are also taking care of others.


The course will take place on Mondays from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

This course will be offered in English. A version in Maltese will be available at a later stage in the academic year.

13th January 2024Understanding self-awareness
20th January 2024Discussing transference and countertransference
27th January 2024 Understanding that reflective practice is an important tool in our work
3rd February 2024 Understanding mental health and supporting people with mental health issues
17th February 2024Working with people who are depressed or anxious while dealing with trauma
24th February 2024Appreciating and practicing self-care

This course offers three exit certificate options

1. Certificate of Attendance

To receive a Certificate of Attendance, students must attend a minimum of 80% of the course contact hours.

2. Certificate of Participation

To obtain a Certificate of Participation, students must attend all the contact hours and pass the short multiple-choice online exam.

3. Certificate of Achievement

To obtain a Certificate of Achievement, students must:

  • attend all minimum of 80% of the contact hours;
  • pass the short multiple-choice online exam;
  • and successfully complete a Case Study Analysis.

Teaching and Awarding Institution: Pastoral Formation Institute

Qualifications: Every application will be considered on its individual merits. The Pastoral Formation Institute accepts a wide range of qualifications, and we always strive to evaluate applications based on academic potential. We consider a diverse range of academic, vocational, and professional qualifications, as well as work and other relevant experiences and skills.

Language Skills: A basic understanding of both Maltese and English.

Digital Skills: Proficient in internet access and word processing.


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