Peer Pastoral Care Course

The Peer Pastoral Care course on UU Institute is designed to provide skills to high school aged youth to be self-aware, supportive listeners who know who to turn to in a crisis.

This course helps youth to:

  • Assess their ability and appropriateness to offer pastoral care to a peer
  • Build awareness and skills regarding boundaries, self care, and “burn-out”
  • Practice a variety of listening techniques to strengthen their effectiveness in a pastoral role
  • determine whether and to whom a pastoral situation needs to be triaged, i.e., when and how to expand the circle of care

Go to the Peer Pastoral Training Course on UU Institute

Some History

Peer pastoral care has been a long tradition in our faith movement, the last iteration was known as youth chaplaincy or peer chaplaincy. The UUA used to have a robust nationwide program called Chrysalis which resulted in many youth leaders serving as chaplains at local and national events. Over time, the capacity and resources dedicated to this program dwindled. Even so, in the places where it continued, it evolved and grew. When covid-19 arrived, the number one resource requested for youth ministry was peer chaplaincy training, and online versions of the materials were developed. All of this hard earned wisdom generated over decades informs the new Peer Pastoral Care course on UU Institute.

Some Context

The language shift from “youth chaplain” to “peer pastoral care” is intentional. Because the old trainings were so cost intensive, only a few youth from each congregation would be sent to a training and only a few youth from each training would be selected to serve as peer chaplains at events. In this era of community care and growing communities of care we wanted to make training materials that were accessible to every UU youth in every congregation. We believe that every youth can have the skills to listen deeply to a friend in need, every youth should be exposed to the nuances of listening within cultural contexts, and every youth should know who to turn to when their friend is in a crisis.

About the Course

This course is designed to be co-facilitated by religious professionals and lay leaders including youth and young adults. It can be done in segments as small as a 5 minute video followed by a discussion or as large as a weekend training. Potential facilitators can join the Facilitators’ Facebook Learning Community to get ideas for how to implement the materials in your context.

This course combines video presentations of core content, featuring UUA staff, and discussion prompts, case studies, and other activities for participants. Topics include: an introduction to active listening, things to avoid, self awareness as a listener, how to end a listening session, practicing self care, offering trauma informed care, listening to collective pain, crisis triage, and expanding the circle of support. This program is intended for high school-age youth. Throughout the course, you will find alternate activity suggestions for a group that skews toward the younger ages.

Meet the UU Institute Peer Pastoral Care Course Instructors

UU Institute Course

Copy to Encourage Youth Attendance

Are you a youth who wants more skills around how to be a better friend? Do you want some tips on how to show up for your friends’ emotional well being? Pastoral care isn’t about knowing how to say just the right thing, being able to fix someone else’s problem or having all the answers. Pastoral care just means being able to show up as a listener, pay attention to your friends' feelings, and knowing who to go to when help is needed. In this pastoral care course you’ll get the chance to practice these skills in a safe environment with supportive friends and mentors.