"God comes disguised as your life."
- Paula D'Arcy
Are there any requirements for being in spiritual direction?
Only a desire to grow in awareness of and responsiveness to the inner & outer movements in one's life. Religious affiliation, theological education or a history with spiritual experiences are not requirements. Here are some reasons I've heard over the years from people interested in spiritual direction:
Wanting to find "their voice"
Seeing the fruits of spiritual direction in a friend or family member's life
Coming out of a season of just-surviving and wanting to shape the season ahead with more intentionality
Hoping to grow closer to God
Hoping to grow closer to themselves
Entering a sabbatical
Discerning a shift in vocation, career, life stage, identity, living situation, or call
Wanting to reflect on their life with someone (and are already in therapy or have been and want something a bit different in this season)
Having left the faith of their past/youth and wondering what's next, what's there
Finding that former spiritual practices don't work or give life anymore, hoping for new ways to pray, love, and "be"
Working in a non-profit, ministry, or church and needing someone "outside" it all to process with and to stay connected to themselves
Having friends who say, "When I was talking with my spiritual director..." and finding themselves curious and drawn to what that means/looks like
To grow in integrity (increasing congruence between what they value and how they live a day, a week, a year, a life)
What does a session look like?
A typical direction session looks like two people talking, with pauses throughout the conversation for silence, reflection, and going deeper. A typical meeting lasts for one hour, and occurs once a month. It will often start with silence or a brief centering exercise, and then the "content" of the meeting will be whatever is arising from the directee's life that seems interesting to explore further. The director will mostly listen, reflect back to the directee what they are hearing, ask questions to help them go deeper, and make space for discernment together about the invitations arising from the directee's life. (For more, see Typical Boundaries for Spiritual Direction)
How is it different than counseling?
Although the one-with-one nature of spiritual direction can look a lot like therapy, pastoral counseling, or life-coaching, it is actually quite different. Spiritual direction is not "problem" focused, but rather "life" and "prayer" focused, and is not sought only in times of crisis or transition (and indeed can be engaged in for decades - with the same director or different ones). Furthermore, I am not trained as a therapist or life-coach, so am not equipped to focus on psychological contours or specific outcomes. (For another perspective on these differences, visit b-ing.)
Does it cost?
Nowadays, usually. Historically, not as much, especially via directors affiliated with religious orders (and you can sometimes still find them by contacting a local order or retreat center). For those who do charge, the going rate for trained spiritual directors in North America is between $50-$100 an hour. For the first 7 years of my practice I have been operating at a sliding scale, but as of January 2022 my fee will be $75/hour CDN (or approximately $60 USD).
How often do I come?
The typical rhythm for spiritual direction is once a month, but for short seasons of transition, disturbance or discernment, it's possible to meet a bit more regularly. Some people meet bimonthly or quarterly and that can work well too. The important thing is that you do what works best for you.
Do I have to sign something?
Yes, I do have a covenant I will ask you to sign after you've tried a session if you'd like to continue meeting. This document explains meeting expectations, the limits of confidentiality, and asks for an emergency contact.
Can I just try it once?
Yes! Although many love the dynamics of spiritual direction, it can still take some getting used to. We can set up a free 20 minute consultation to talk more about it and then you can decide whether you want to schedule a session, with no expectation of having something ongoing.