For today’s post, I’m delighted to feature guest Laura Ann Lies for this guide on Spiritual Direction! Laura is a Chicago-area spiritual director, an expert in the business side of things, and offers her wisdom here. She has provided links throughout the article for in-depth exploration, along every step.
What is a Private Spiritual Direction practice and Why does it matter?
With more people graduating with degrees and certificates in Spiritual Direction than ever before (learn more about the expanding world of training programs and how to choose the right one for you), there is a growing need to equip these graduates with the tools required to establish a private practice. Seeker, Directees, and/or Clients often find it difficult to find a Spiritual Director when they are looking for one. (Check out the nearly 5,000 Spiritual Directors listed on the SDI website.) Developing Spiritual Directors to become effective entrepreneurs will help potential seekers to find them when the need arises.
The ancient practice of Spiritual Practice began with the Desert Fathers and Mothers out in the wilderness, where seekers somehow find their way to them. And long before blogging ever existed! Later, church clergy offered Spiritual Direction for one another and for others. In recent decades, Spiritual Direction training programs arrived to offer certificate programs to lay leaders. Today, Spiritual Direction training programs equip new spiritual companions from across a wide array of faith traditions and in some cases with no faith tradition in particular but a shared desire to seek the Sacred. This expansion enables the ancient practice of Spiritual Direction to be made available to more people than ever before.
Terms to Know
Spiritual Companion is a more inclusive and broader term that honors the mutual seeking of the Sacred together.
The Pros and Cons with Payment
There are some voices who suggest that the ancient art of Spiritual Direction be offered free of charge to seekers. And there are many other voices who believe that it is acceptable and appropriate for the Spiritual Director to receive payment. The new Spiritual Director would be wise to spend enough time discerning and wrestling through this key decision point. Consider how the Sacred may be inviting you to evaluate your relationship to money.
Examples of Spiritual Direction practice websites:
How to begin a Spiritual Direction practice: A Seven Step-by-Step Process
1. Discern. Is this God’s will for you at this time? Walk through a thorough discernment process such as the following:
- Ignatian Discernment process. Consider 11 Steps to Making a Decision. A classic approach from St. Ignatius of Loyola that is over 500 years old in the making and still radically relevant today.
- Which option will bring the most glory to the Divine and be expressive of my own, deepest, authentic self? Best honor the Divine, my neighbor, and myself?
- Walking through a Guided Meditation process. Picture yourself in the Scriptural story. Be inspired by encouraging messages. Nourish your soul through over a dozen approaches to seek Divine guidance.
- Pondering Spiritual Questions. Receive the gift of provocative questions that lovingly open you up without judgment.
- Go on a self-guided Vision Quest or Silent Retreat.
- More questions to ponder:
- What am I longing for? What can’t I not do?
- How am I uniquely called, gifted and positioned at this time?
- Who is already coming to me for encouragement? What might be my personal niche to serve?
- What is being asked of me? What is mine to do? Who are mine to love?
- What is your current image of yourself as a Spiritual Director? How are you being invited to expand this image?
- If ever there was a time to experiment and to take a calculated risk, is this current unprecedented season such an invitation?
- How could the bold step of starting a Spiritual Direction business in itself be considered a spiritual practice? How is this act expanding me? My soul? My borders?
- What is holding me back from moving forward? What have I got to lose? What needs to die within me to welcome the new?
2. Surround yourself with Encouraging voices to inspire the entrepreneur in you. Protect yourself from those who might be discouraging to you, especially during this potentially vulnerable time. Consider the following authors:
- Hiro Boga. Hiro is a mentor and guide for Visionary Entrepreneurs. Her creative writing will inspire you and feed your soul.
- Laurie Beth Jones. Laurie authors wildly popular business books from a spiritual perspective. Her personal mission is to recognize, promote, and inspire divine connection in herself and others.
- Mary Manin Morrissey Inspiring comments to help you to find and fulfill your mission.
- Various authors who address Transitions. Read several articles from a wide variety of authors to infuse Courage into this in-between season of transition.
- Always Remember your Why. The purpose, cause or belief that drives you.
3. Equip yourself with practical guides about launching a Spiritual Direction practice. Consider the following authors:
- Spiritual Direction 101: The Basics of Spiritual Guidance, by Teresa Blythe. Beloved author and seasoned Spiritual Director, Teresa Blythe offers a practical guide for how to create and market a Spiritual Direction practice.
- Finding Seekers: How to Develop a Spiritual Direction Practice from Beginning to Full-Time Employment, by Bruce Tallman. “Covers every aspect of starting a Spiritual Direction practice.”
- Building Your Ideal Private Practice: A Guide for Therapists and Other Healing Professionals, by Lynn Grodzki. More in-depth treatment of the nuts and bolts of establishing your private practice.
- SDI Webinar Series: Making a Living as a Spiritual Director. “These webinar series present several spiritual directors sharing their recipes for turning spiritual companionship into a financially sustainable career. This is for all spiritual companions – and those training – who want to follow their calling AND pay the rent.”
4. Establish an online presence. With a dedicated website, email address, and social media pages. The more social media outlets that you post on, the more opportunities for people to find you and your website. Start small and build from there. Consider the following services:
- PC Magazine recommendations: Find recommendations for the website providers in the ever-changing online world.
- SiteGround Web Hosting services: A user-friendly web hosting provider for those of us who are less technically savvy.
- Include a small video introducing yourself on the homepage of your website.
- Facebook business page. Even with no money to spend for an online presence, you can still create a Facebook business page for folks to learn more about you.
5. List your business on dedicated Spiritual Direction websites. Such as the following:
- SDI Spiritual Companions. The largest listing of Spiritual Directors in the galaxy. Purchase a Premium listing that allows more text about you and your practice, photo, and video.
- Evangelical Spiritual Directors Listing of Spiritual Directors with a Christian Evangelical bent.
- Your own home, faith community. Ask them to place a special page on their website about your offering of Spiritual Direction. Bruce Tallman, author of Finding Seekers: How to Develop a Spiritual Direction Practice from Beginning to Full-Time Employment, suggests that faith communities love to provide multiple services to their constituents. Your Spiritual Direction practice helps them to attract and help others.
6. Address small business start-up requirements. According to Lynn Grodzki, Private Practice Coach, therapists and other helping professionals (such as Spiritual Directors) often lack the business skills needed to run their practice. The good news is that we can learn how and that there are lots of great tools out there to support us. Such as the following to help you get started today:
- How to start a small business HubSpot Blog provides excellent articles and templates to help you launch your business.
- Insurance American Professional Agency is the go-to insurance company recommended by SDI. For a very low cost you can provide peace of mind for your business.
- Electronic Payments PayPal or Venmo for business are simple ways to provide your clients with electronic invoices that they can pay online directly to your account.
- Accounting for Small Business Quickbooks Self Employed is a low-cost way to capture all your income and expenses in one, online place that connects directly to your business checking account.
- Marketing for Small Business HubSpot Academy provides Free courses, templates, and blog articles on marketing, sales and service. Timely, comprehensive and concise; this is your first stop on all things about getting started with your practice.
7. Find new Spiritual Directors to encourage as they launch their own private practice.
- Band together with other Spiritual Directors from across the globe to create virtual communities.
- Discern how the Divine is inviting you to help others to get started. Pave it forward.
And so, continues the cycle…
About Laura Ann Lies, Spiritual Director & Entrepreneur
Just four short years ago, I launched a new Spiritual Direction practice. Now, supporting a full-time practice of 40 directees, publishing over 70 blog posts, and welcoming over fifteen thousand unique visitors to the website, I share the steps and resources that have been the most helpful in building my private practice. May my sharing inspire and encourage you to consider stepping out in faith, to start something new, to bless a desperate world, for such a time as this. The time is now.
If after reviewing these resources you would like to meet on a live video call for personal consultation to further discuss the possibility of getting started in private practice, please feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com.
Bless you dear one,
Laura Ann Lies
Certificate in Spiritual Direction
Certificate in Inbound Marketing from HubSpot Academy
Looking for more support in getting started?
Here are a few ways to consider working with me:
- Schedule a Free phone consult with me; to discuss the possibility of my helping you to launch your practice.
- Write a Guest Blog article for my Blog. Get introduced to people looking for a Spiritual Director.
- Speak on an upcoming Webinar “Meet New Spiritual Directors” to introduce yourself and present a brief spiritual exercise to webinar guests and others who will view the recording. Email me to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org
Struggling with Doubt? Find spiritual resources to encourage you to Persevere.