the business of spiritual direction

Setting up a Spiritual Direction Practice

Once you have received training in the art of spiritual direction and want to get started as a spiritual director, you then have a lot of smaller decisions to make. Chief among them is what kind of spiritual director am I called to be? There are a lot of ways to be a spiritual director. Some of us set up private practices and basically “hang a shingle” in order to meet with people one-on-one. We hope to see quite a few directees each month—something on the order of 20 or more. Others do … [Read More...]

transference drawing

Transference in Spiritual Direction

  The psychological term transference is a concept that spiritual directors need to know and understand in order to not be derailed by it. It’s the natural, to-be-expected process by which a person seeking help in a direction relationship (or any helping relationship) transfers his or her own feelings, thoughts, impulses and fantasies about a person from one’s past (feelings not fully resolved) to the spiritual director.  The directee in the midst of transference is not aware that … [Read More...]


Boundaries in Spiritual Direction

Spiritual directors must be clear about limits. Boundaries are important for everyone, but for those of us in the helping professions, they are crucial. It is most important that the spiritual director know within himself or herself where those boundaries are set. A boundary is an external limit placed on a person, object, space or area. It determines how distant or close we become to another person. All human beings get to decide where we set our limits, our boundaries. As spiritual … [Read More...]


Projection and the Spiritual Director

Because good spiritual directors do a lot of listening and very little personal sharing in a session, we sometimes become a target for other people’s projections of anxious thoughts and feelings.  Projection is a psychology term for a defense mechanism people use against their anxiety.  A common example of projection is when I am internally angry at the actions of another person but instead of “owning” my anger, I accuse the other person of acting out in anger. It’s a way an anxious … [Read More...]

HSSD Week 3 027

What Spiritual Directors need to know about Psychology

Spiritual direction is not psychological counseling but it helps for spiritual directors to know something about behavior, cognition and emotions—the basic focus of psychology. In technical terms, psychology is the scientific study of the human person:  our brain, senses, nerves, our development, memory, motivation, consciousness, intelligence, personality, attitudes, influence, family systems and treatments necessary for pathology. Psychotherapy is the helping relationship between a … [Read More...]

the business of spiritual direction

Supervision for Spiritual Directors

All spiritual directors need to be in a supervision relationship. If you are doing regular spiritual direction with anyone, you need to meet on a periodic basis with an experienced spiritual director who can assist you in taking a look at what goes on inside of you as you do this work. This supervisor should be someone other than your current spiritual director or therapist. He or she may have special training in supervision (some spiritual direction training programs incorporate it into … [Read More...]

Self-Care for the Spiritual Director

Don’t even think about becoming a spiritual director if you are not willing to be diligent about self-care. Once you begin to hold space for other people’s spiritual questions, challenges, pain and bliss, you will notice how much you need additional time for prayer, processing and play in your own life. If you don’t become wise about how much rest and reflection time you need, you can easily become emotionally overwhelmed. So here’s what I recommend for every spiritual director in the … [Read More...]

Evoking not Directing

This is for those of you thinking of becoming spiritual directors but who dislike the title “spiritual director” because the verb "to direct" can imply that you have answers and are directing another person toward certain answers.  Don't get too hung up about that one word--direct. At best, spiritual directors are directing another person’s attention to an event, emotion or situation that may hold clues about where God is speaking or leading that person. So if you are holding back from … [Read More...]

Am I a Spiritual Director?

Perhaps you have been reading Spiritual Direction 101 and have been wondering if you are—or could be—a spiritual director. You’ve read that training is important, advisable and enriching but since the profession is not “professionalized” (no standardized certification) training is not mandatory. You’ve read that some people fall into this work by nature of their other ministries—clergy, nuns and chaplains, for example. Others develop a sense of call over many years. Part of … [Read More...]


The essential practice of Radical Acceptance

One of the hardest spiritual practices in life is accepting that which we cannot change. Even in the case of events and situations that we can change, the practice of radical acceptance helps us find the patience we need while discerning and making the change. The term "radical acceptance" is used by many Buddhists to refer to the practice of sitting with your situation---just as it is--and feeling your emotions--just as they are--for a period of time. The interesting thing about our … [Read More...]