Setting your Fee for Spiritual Direction

Setting your Fee for Spiritual Direction May 5, 2014


Spiritual directors need to make a living like everyone else. So, like all freelancers, we have to figure out what we are going to charge for our service. There is no standard fee or even agreed-upon scale for spiritual directors. There are lots of ways spiritual directors approach this.

  • Ask around in your region and find out what the “going rate” is. Your rate should be comparable. You can try pricing yourself higher and see if the market can handle it. Or you can go lower and do “value pricing.” If you are leaning toward the latter, think carefully about the overall effect to other spiritual directors if you give yourself away for free or low, low cost. In Tucson, AZ where I live, the going rate for spiritual direction is between $40 – $75 a session.  I charge $50.
  • You may want to request a range that allows the directee to choose what they pay you (within reason). A friend of mine charges $50 – $75 per session and says most of the people he sees who have full-time jobs pay him at the high end. This approach does put some pressure on the directee to decide if he or she will pay you the minimum or the maximum. If you are the kind of person who will feel slighted if your directee chooses to pay you the minimum, then don’t take this approach!
  • Some directors ask directees to pay them whatever the directee’s hourly wage rate is. If that makes you feel better about taking their money, go for it. Keep in mind, though, you are only seeing them for one hour a month. So although it seems totally fair (an hour of my time is worth the same as an hour of yours), this will probably not work in your favor unless you live in a high wage region of the country. Very few people in Tucson make $50 per hour, yet my directees pay that for a session with me because it’s only once a month.
  • Set your fee at the same range as fitness trainers and massage therapists in your area charge for one hour of their time. I’m told we fit into that “personal services” kind of hourly wage.

While we’re on the topic of money, a few more guidelines to mention:

  • Keep good track of your spiritual direction income. Make sure your records are kept confidential as well.
  • You will be paying taxes on the income. We don’t need spiritual directors taking money “under the table” and getting busted by the IRS. It’s bad press. If you make more money than is covered by the taxes you pay on another job, you will be paying estimated taxes four times a year just like every other freelancer in the world.
  • Don’t offer your services as a trade for in-kind services. I also do not recommend taking gifts (barter) in exchange for spiritual direction although I know some religious orders do that. Trade or barter makes bookkeeping for tax purposes a nightmare.
  • Have directees pay you at the end of the session. Cash, check or online (using those various gadgets you can get from money management websites) is fine. Sometimes people forget to bring their checks or cash and then I ask them to mail it in. If you work with people by phone, set a deadline for the money to come in. I use PayPal and ask phone or Skype directees to pay by check in the mail or PayPal within 3 days. Then, if it is not paid by that time, I send a reminder email. (Sometimes I wait and send the reminder at the end of a month, but the intended rule is “pay me in 3 days.”)

If you are not comfortable about asking for money in exchange for your time as a spiritual director, I encourage you to reflect on your relationship with money and the blocks you are experiencing around charging for your services. Then, just do it. Ask for the money. After you do this a few times, you will see that most people appreciate spiritual direction and want to pay you. You will overcome your discomfort in time and you will be making a living (or a few extra dollars) doing something meaningful and valuable that you love.

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.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Dear Teresa, do you ever have concerns about simony with spiritual directors? This is a great resource

  • Laura Benjamin

    I respectfully disagree. Did Jesus charge for his work? I think this is a huge problem with many newer spiritual movements and leaders. It makes me feel sad.

  • As a spiritual director in the Benedictine tradition, I look at this slightly differently. Rather than “charging a fee” for direction, I look at it as an exchange between myself and the directee. It doesn’t need to be money, though it usually is because of the economic system in which we find ourselves. Accepting some form of exchange is essential because it solidifies the directees’ commitment to the process. Authentic spiritual direction is hard work, and it’s a partnered activity. The simple truth is that when we “pay” for something we take it much more seriously. Jesus tells his disciples to sleep wherever someone will host them, and to eat what is put before them–so clearly, accepting some kind of exchange for spiritual companioning is neither simony nor in conflict with Scripture.

  • The other thing I would add is simply this: I normally would advise against seeing a Catholic priest for any kind of spiritual direction because 1) they have no training whatsoever in what it means to be a spiritual companion and 2) all they have to fall back on for “direction” is reiterating the institutional Church’s doctrinal and moral policies. No one needs a spiritual director that tells them what to do: that is not spiritual direction, that is spiritual servitude. There are priests, like myself, who have spent literally decades studying, learning, listening and then finally applying the principles of our religious Orders in order to humbly offer ourselves as spiritual companions–without invoking doctrine or moral teachings/ policies of the institution.

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