FAQs about Spiritual Direction


What is spiritual direction?

Spiritual direction is a relationship between a director and a directee where the purpose of the relationship is to tend the holy dimensions of the directee’s life. Direction is based on the assumption that Spirit is present in all aspects of life. Spiritual direction is a nonjudgmental and compassionate activity, where a director strives to create a safe environment for a directee to reflect upon and examine the deep questions, concerns, and joys of his or her life from a spiritual perspective.

Why is it called spiritual direction?

Spiritual direction is an ancient term. In the past, directors were often viewed as authority figures. Today directors are generally understood to be people with developed and extensive faith experience who can serve as holy listeners, helping directees to reflect on their own experiences.  Most directors today have received comprehensive training, including practice in contemplative listening and supervised direction practicums.

How is spiritual direction different from therapy?

Similar topics are explored in direction and therapy, including grief, anger, loss, relationships, work, and sense of meaning and purpose in life.  However, the underlying premise of spiritual direction is that the Divine is present in all of life, no matter how subtly, so the framework for the exploration arises from that foundation.   Additionally, directees explore specifically religious topics, including prayer, faith experiences, faith crises, challenges in their faith communities or childhood experiences in church.  While many people initially seek spiritual direction during a time of personal challenge or crisis, the direction relationship often continues for years and is seen as an opportunity for ongoing growth and deepening. Care of Mind, Care of Spirit: A Psychiatrist Explores Spiritual Direction by Gerald May, M.D. beautifully explores the “ragged interface” between therapy and spiritual direction.

What if you are spiritual, but not religious?  Can you still benefit from spiritual direction?

Again, this depends on you and the prospective director. Direction is fundamentally a covenant relationship between director and directee. My covenant with directees is to honor and assist their exploration of their relationship with the Transcendent, however they name it, including God, Yahweh, Source, Love, Spirit or Christ,  and to pray for them. Directees covenant with me that they will engage in intentional practices to explore and deepen their relationship with the holy.

How often do directors and directees meet?

Generally once a month for about an hour, though this may vary.

How much does spiritual direction cost?

There is a wide variation in fees. Since I am one of Mercy Center Auburn’s directors, I follow their recommended guidelines, which suggest a sliding scale of $40-$70 per session. However, I would never turn away a directee for financial reasons.

How can I find a spiritual director?

Spiritual Directors International maintains on online directory of directors. You could also contact local retreat centers or local clergy for their recommendations.

Do I have to work with a director from my faith tradition?

That is a completely individual question which you should discuss with any prospective director. I see directees from a range of faith traditions as well as people who identify themselves as being active, intentional spiritual seekers outside of a traditional faith community.

What should I ask potential spiritual directors?

You could ask about their approach to spiritual direction and what they find most meaningful in the work. You could ask about their training and experience. You could ask about their own personal spiritual practices.