Often asked questions about the ministry of spiritual direction:
What is the difference between spiritual direction and counseling?
As a general rule, counseling and therapy focus on a person’s problem areas with the goal of a healthy resolution to those issues. Spiritual direction focuses on finding and responding to God present in the human life circumstances, whether glorious, joyful or sorrowful.
What are the benefits of Spiritual Direction?
- Deeper awareness of God’s presence, love and grace in all things and situations in one’s life.
- Deeper connection to one’s true self, others, and creation.
- Learning new spiritual disciplines—prayer, silence, meditation, etc.
- Discerning God’s will in one’s everyday decisions.
- Living more fully one’s purpose—to praise, reverence and serve God.
- Accountability to the daily rhythm of prayer and encouragement when self-discipline breaks down.
What typically happens in a direction session?
Normally, each session is about an hour. You will be asked to share your prayer experiences with your director; therefore, it is necessary for you to have a regular prayer time and to maintain a journal in order to have things to discuss. If you are discerning a major issue in your life, your time with your director is where this is processed after you have spent time in prayer. Your director will ask you questions in an effort to have you go a little deeper into your prayer experiences.
Although the title “spiritual direction” has sometimes been misused, the real task of spiritual direction is not to tell another person what to do or how to be spiritual. Your journey of faith is uniquely your own. It is the responsibility of the director to discern with you the movement of God’s Spirit in your life and to assist you in following that movement.
How often would I meet with my director?
That mostly depends on you, however once a month is a common arrangement and seems to work well. The frequency will be determined by your needs and the discernment of both the director and yourself.
Mutual respect and honesty are important, and confidentiality on the part of the director is a given. It is essential that both the director and directee feel free to communicate needs, frustrations, disappointments as well as the joys of the progress made. It is a good idea to evaluate every few months if expectations are being met and if not, what needs to be done about that. Thus, part of the commitment will be to respond to these insights and to know if and when to discontinue. But also, part of the commitment will be to persevere through discouragements in patience and faith. Mostly, spiritual direction involves trust: trust in God who has called you to partake in this ministry, and trust in the spiritual director as confidante and soul friend.
Is there a cost for Spiritual Direction?
As lay spiritual
directors, we invest financially in our ministry in terms of ongoing training, professional
dues, supervision, education and materials. Therefore, we accept donations towards our ministry ($40 is an average
offering); however, inability to pay will not be a hindrance to receiving
spiritual direction. All
How do I find a spiritual director?
- This website has a list of directors who are members of LASD. Spiritual Directors International maintains a list of qualified spiritual directors. Contact them online.
- Sometimes a priest or minister can offer spiritual direction or at least assist with referrals. (Just because one is a “religious” does not infer that he or she would qualify as a good director, often lacking time for the ministry, training, or limited in the skill of deep listening.)
- Consider contacting retreat centers, monasteries, or communities of religious in your area.
- As in seeking other professional services, word of mouth is often the best method. Ask friends, fellow seekers, your pastor or fellow parishioners for suggestions about reputable spiritual directors.