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What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is a contemplative practice of exploring one’s spiritual path with a person trained in listening, discernment and deep reflection. It’s an ancient practice within the Christian tradition finding its way into the mainstream of postmodern life. Since it’s a revived practice in a multi-faith world, there are many understandings of spiritual direction.

A ministry of Holy Listening
At its core, spiritual direction is about paying attention to where the presence of God (however you understand God) is most deeply felt. Spiritual directors, then, pursue the art of walking with you as you become more attentive to the divine in your life. We are, in a sense, a “field guide” along life’s walk, pointing out interesting highlights and asking you to think more deeply about certain questions. We help you make connections and become aware of what you are seeing. We don’t walk the walk for you, but we observe the walk with you aware that spirit is leading and is in relationship with you all the time.

Functions of Spiritual Direction

  • Enhanced awareness of the divine
  • Remembering and savoring God’s presence
  • Spiritual Growth

Most important, the word “direction” is not about telling you what to believe or how to act. Instead it refers to the way a spiritual director may point out or guide you toward spirit’s movement in your life based on your unique relationship with the divine. Spiritual direction is offered one-on-one as well as in group sessions.

Who comes to Spiritual Direction?

There is not one type of person who seeks out spiritual direction. Directees are lay people and clergy. They come from all classes of society. They are male and female, gay and lesbian, transgender and straight. Some are very religious and some fall into the “spiritual but not religious” category. They are seekers and lifelong believers. They are often doubters and questioners.

Although spiritual direction has its roots in Christianity, not all people who visit spiritual directors are Christian, nor are they expected to become one. You can find spiritual directors who are Jewish, Sufi-Muslim, Buddhist and Interfaith. What we can safely say about people who come to spiritual direction is that they are seeking greater awareness of the divine in their life.

What is Soul Care?

Soul care (or Care of the Soul) is the intentional practice of integrating all aspects of the human experience: physical, relational, emotional, sexual, and vocational. It involves tending to the whole person and their relationship to that which is eternal. Spiritual direction is a form of soul care that helps people deepen their connection to the divine in service to the soul. Sometimes the terms spiritual direction and soul care are used interchangeably. I would describe my practice as leaning more towards “soul care” since it offers a more holistic model of support.

Is Spiritual Direction therapy?

Spiritual direction can feel therapeutic at times, but it is not therapy. Counseling and psychotherapy focus on addressing specific problems and helping you find solutions. It may include diagnosis and evidence-based treatment and is done under the care of a trained and licensed professional.

Spiritual direction is about listening to God and being attentive to the spirit’s movement in your life. Through growth in this area you may increase your capacity to work on psychological issues, but directors to not treat anything. People often bring their grief, fear, and pain to spiritual direction. In this sacred space the invitation is not to fix what hurts, but to enter more deeply into it through the presence of a loving God.

Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book Learning to Walk in the Dark, sums it up well, “We go to counselors when we want help getting out of caves.  We go to directors when we are ready to be led further in.”

In some cases, a spiritual director may refer a directee to counseling if they discern a need for specific help.

How often do you meet?

Most people meet with a spiritual director once a month. Sessions last about an hour and may include conversation, contemplative silence, reading a sacred text, or praying with an image. During certain seasons of life or in times of serious discernment, a person may meet more frequently.

Do you meet in person or online?

I offer spiritual direction in person as well as online over Zoom. To make an appointment, call 509-389-2851.

Is there a fee for Spiritual Direction?

Individual spiritual direction sessions are $50. Payment is due at the time of the session and I accept Venmo, Square, check, or cash. If you want this service but cannot afford it, I do offer a sliding scale option.

What about training, ethics, etc?

There is no governing body for spiritual directors in the United States. Anyone can “hang out their shingle” and call themselves a director. There are many programs that offer training and provide a certificate of completion, but there is no licensing requirements or oversight. This may change in the future, but for now the responsibility for acting in a professional manner is up to the individual director.

I completed a 2-year training program with Stewards of the Mystery. I am also a member of Spiritual Directors International and follow their Code of Ethics. In addition, I see a spiritual director for my own personal growth and meet regularly with a supervisor.

Some of this material was adapted from The Guide for Seekers, published by the Phoenix School of Spiritual Direction