Below are some frequently asked questions about spiritual direction and my answers. I hope this helps you when making a decision whether to pursue if it is right for you. If you are interested, make sure you check out this article for choosing the right spiritual director for you.
Is it like counseling?
Yes and no. In both cases, you are seeing a professional one-on-one in a confidential setting. In both cases, they are deeply listening to you. People tend to go counselors or therapists because of a crisis in their lives, while people tend to go to spiritual direction because of a longing for something more. Counselors and therapists are often focused on observing and making you aware of patterns and behaviors. They focus on mental health issues. Spiritual directors are focused more on the movement of God in your life and both articulating and fostering your spiritual experiences. Spiritual Direction is a collaborative seeking together.
Why are they called spiritual directors?
We say that in spiritual direction, the true director is God (Universe, Spirit, Love, Higher Power, Wisdom, whatever name you have for it). The spiritual director’s job is to listen with one ear to you (the directee) and one ear to God (the director) to understand what is underneath the surface. They seek to notice, facilitate, and foster movement in your life to greater love, healing, and spiritual freedom. The spiritual director may ask questions to take you deeper into your own inner knowing. Some spiritual directors prefer to call themselves a spiritual companion because their key role is to be present with you; to sit with you and share in your sacred stories; to celebrate, savor, and even cry with you.
What does a session look like?
Each spiritual director may start a session in a different way. Some use a ritual of lighting a candle and saying an opening prayer, while others may call for a moment of deep breathing and silence to center both the director and the directee. The spiritual director may guide you with some questions and prompts throughout the session or just allow you to begin talking about whatever is on your mind and your heart. Some sessions can have more structure like when the director is teaching you a certain style of prayer or meditation. Some directors may get more creative with you like going for a walk out in nature together or doing some artwork. In general, you do most of the talking while the spiritual director listens.
Why do people come to spiritual direction?
People come to a spiritual director for many reasons. Some people are seeking clarity in their life path while others are looking for a spiritual companion to share their soul’s journey with. Many find it an integral part of their health care team. The same way that you may have a chiropractor on call for when your back is in crisis, you can have a spiritual director for when you are in a spiritual crisis. Many find it both healing and empowering to engage in this deep listening practice.
Do you have to be religious?
No, you do not need to believe in or practice any set religion. Spiritual direction is not about theology, doctrine, or dogma. Spiritual Direction is about about your own unique relationship with the divine and whatever aligns with your own spirituality. It is about seeking the deeper wisdom in your life.
How often and how long do people come for sessions?
Typically people book a 1 hour session each month. They may come more often if they are undergoing a crisis, discerning an important decision, or desiring to be lead through the Spiritual Exercises. Or they may only come a couple of times a year as they feel inspired or called to a deeper spiritual life.
About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and learnings with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.