The first session with a new spiritual director can sometimes feel as awkward as a first date. You have a lot you want to know about the director and he or she has a lot they want to get to know about you. That’s why it can be hard to tell from just one session if you have found a good fit.
In the first session, the director may have some introductory material to present to you. He or she may want to say a bit more about how they do spiritual direction and what a few of the boundaries are. If you are not sure about how often to meet or what the fee is, definitely clear that up in the first session. Some directors present a general agreement or covenant to sign that outlines what each of you agrees to honor about the relationship. Others are less formal.
I figure most people coming to spiritual direction for the first time have something on their heart that they want to discuss. Something has propelled them into thinking they could use some guidance. So I make sure we get to the “heart talk” as soon as both the new directee and I have gone over a few basics. My introductory information is pretty much what is on my website and brochure so if they have gone over that, we’re usually ready to roll. I ask them if they have any questions for me before we start. If not, we begin with a few moments of silence and I ask them to share what is on their heart.
When you are preparing to go to your first session, make sure you spend some time in prayer beforehand. Reflect on what life stories or situations you want to share with a director in that first session. What questions do you have about direction that need to be answered? What are you looking for in spiritual direction? (By the way, if you aren’t sure what to talk about—that is probably the question your director will ask you first !)
Take some time after your first session to reflect on what you saw, heard and felt. Pray about it. It is a good idea to try a new director for at least 3 sessions before deciding if the relationship is a good fit. However, if you know right away it is not, there is never any obligation to carry on.
Always remember, the spiritual direction relationship is all about you, the directee. This is one time in life you need to put yourself and your needs first.
For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.