If you live in a metropolitan area, you will probably have lots of spiritual directors to choose from. But if you are in rural America, you may be lucky to have even one within driving distance of you. That does not mean you are limited to that one director!
Technology is changing the way spiritual direction is done. Sure, there are some spiritual directors who will only work with people in person. But more and more you are able to find directors who use Skype or the telephone for sessions. I have several long-distance directees I have worked with for many years. If they don’t have a problem with me being in another city, I certainly don’t!
Working with a director by phone or Skype allows you to choose a director based on their experience, certain qualities you are seeking and even price since the cost of living varies from region to region.
Be prepared for a lot of phone or Internet sleuthing to find the director of your choice. You could start by checking out the Spiritual Directors International website (www.sdiworld.org) and check out director listings from regions close to you. The SDI listings should give you a few details about the directors’ backgrounds. Or you could decide that you want a director from a particular tradition or denomination. Do an Internet search for a site that caters to people in that tradition. Somewhere on that site you should find a name or email of someone who can lead you to spiritual directors in that tradition. Also check out a site called Find the Divine which keeps a list of spiritual directors and guides.
Another way to find an experienced director is to read some of the newer books out on spiritual direction, spiritual formation or Christian spirituality. Find one you really like and email or call the author. They just may be a trained spiritual director who is taking new directees. I know I’ve had people call me based on reading 50 Ways to Pray and we’ve begun working together.
A couple of things to note about phone and Skype work. Make sure you have a good phone (I prefer a land line) and a strong Internet connection for Skype. Technology is best when you don’t notice it and certainly when you don’t have to struggle too much with it. You’ll want to turn off any call waiting features you have. And if you are on Skype, you will want to turn your nearby phone bell off so that you don’t have interruptions.
There are a few spiritual directors who will do sessions via email, although I’m not familiar with how that works. I believe they set up parameters for how many emails per month as well as asking you to approach each email in a prayerful, considered way. If that is a preferred option for you or if it is the only way you can receive direction, then I say go for it.
Within a few years there will be lots more people taking advantage of spiritual direction at-a-distance. So don’t hesitate to inquire about it if you need a spiritual director but don’t have any in your hometown.
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.