Frequently Asked Questions
About Spiritual Direction
What is Spiritual Direction?
Grounded in the belief that nature is sacred, spiritual direction is a ministry of walking together to explore deep meaning and transformative mystery.
What is a Spiritual Director?
A spiritual director—also known as a spiritual guide, a spiritual mentor, or a spiritual companion—is a person who is professionally trained to help other people make sense of and develop their spiritual paths.
What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is the personal experience of relationship with transcendent aspects of existence.
What is Prayer?
The definition of prayer that I understand is attending to the sacred.
We each have our own beliefs, ideas, and notions of what the sacred is. This may include beliefs in deities or a single deity, energies or powers in nature or around us, or something larger than ourselves that we may not be able to explain or express.
When we attend to whatever we consider sacred, that is what prayer is to us. It may include repeated words or actions, spontaneous words and actions, sitting in silence to commune or enable the presence of the sacred, or something else where we acknowledge that which is in some way greater than us and beyond our human abilities.
Spiritual Direction is sometimes symbolized by a third, or empty, chair.
This space is available for whomever or whatever a spiritual direction client brings with them into the spiritual direction relationship. While sometimes people consider this a reminder of the presence of a divine, it can also be thought of as any silent assumption or belief present in the conversation, especially those that are not named.
Do we have to believe the same things?
As a spiritual director, I do not impose my own beliefs on those with whom I spiritually companion. Beliefs and experiences are personal, and as such are respected however they manifest. In this manner, orthopraxy is healthy practice of one’s spiritual or religious practices, while orthodoxy is considered to be correct beliefs about how to live or express oneself.
I embrace orthopraxy, and reject orthodoxy, within my spiritual direction practices. I encourage people to believe whatever they wish, and in turn help support an individual’s right to practice in whatever way works best for them.
Not all belief or religious systems hold or share in the same language or expectations, and my practice of spiritual direction focuses on the individuals practices that make sense to them, and not any objective or external system of belief.
Who uses spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is open to anyone who wants to deepen their process or making sense of the sacred. Ultimate answers, fostering a life of prayer or meditation, personal rituals connected to the gods, ancestors, or nature spirits, or the connection many of us experience or long to experience with the wonders of nature—these are all topics that those who seek spiritual direction focuses upon.
There is no single prerequisite or reason for coming to spiritual direction. If you want it, then it is for you.
What kinds of experiences do people talk about in spiritual direction?
People sometimes come to spiritual direction trying to understand the role of god or the gods in their lives, while others come because they want to create their own paths related to what they believe to be the purpose of life. Sometimes people attend they want somebody to talk to given the challenges of living in society, such as war, political partisanship, or divisive social issues.
If we find ourselves challenged to make sense of beliefs, struggle with our internal felt sense of reality, or are searching for deep or transformative meaning, then spiritual direction may be useful.
How are spiritual directors trained?
Most spiritual directors have been through formation and training programs. These programs vary in approaches, requirements, beliefs, length, and structure. I am currently in my second year in the Spiritual Direction Program at Cherry Hill Seminary.
As a trained spiritual director, I follow all the guidance provided by Spiritual Directors International, the primary professional association in this field.
Spiritual Direction vs. Therapy vs. Coaching
Spiritual direction shares some overlapping concerns with therapy and coaching, yet they have significant differences:
- Spiritual direction is a ministry of walking together to explore deep meaning and transformative mystery. It is open-ended and focuses on the present into the future, especially connected to relationship and the fostering of inner peace.
- Therapy often focuses on the past to fix the present. It focuses on fixing a brokenness in people, often in ways that does not account for belief or practices in personal transformation.
- Coaching focuses on setting and achieving goals for the future. It is less concerned with sacred relationships or the peace that often comes with navigating personal answers to ultimate questions.
Privacy & Confidentiality
As I am currently engaging in my second year practicum in the Spiritual Direction Program at Cherry Hill Seminary , all my spiritual direction services are being offered for free at this time.
Ehtics and Supervision
Spiritual directors are ethically bound to confidentiality, and I follow and uphold the Guidelines for Ethical Conduct.
I work with my own spiritual director for my own ongoing spiritual formation, while also working with a spiritual direction supervisor. I will not disclose names or identifying information about any clients with whom I work.
Any Other Questions?
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