2023 is going to be a great year for spiritual guidance. More and more people are learning what spiritual direction/companioning/guidance is all about, which means more work for all of us–a very good thing!
But many spiritual directors struggle to build a practice. Directors need to get the word out about the work we do—deep listening and conversation about a person’s spiritual life and needs. We may not want to go full-tilt with an advertising blast. There are ways to sell ourselves. Softly.
My colleague in spiritual direction, Laura Lies, has done a great job creating continuing education around the topic of “how can I attract more clients to my spiritual direction practice?” You may have seen Laura on a couple of SDI’s webinars about setting up a practice. She knows what she’s talking about, and her latest sense of call is to help other spiritual directors build their businesses. So if this is the kind of information you need, check out her webpage about this at https://streamsgrace.thinkific.com/courses/how-to-get-more-clients-for-your-spiritual-direction-business.
Once you have built up your practice, you may have to adjust a bit to be sure you have the energy to serve all your people. It’s a good problem to have, I admit. But it can still be a problem–figuring out how many people you can visit with per month.
I have recently pulled back just a bit and it has made a big difference in my mental and spiritual capacity. I’m still working 11AM-6PM each weekday doing something related to my practice, meeting with people, writing blog entries, newsletters such as this, doing the administrative work that comes along with the teaching I do and keeping my financial books straight (and that is not my gift, at all, to it takes effort!). I found that the most people I could meet with per weekday–whether it is spiritual direction, supervision, consultation or teaching in the Apprentice Training Program– is four. With breaks between so I can stretch, walk and take care of myself the way I need to. And, I don’t see four people every day.
Directees come and go, apprentices graduate, and supervision clients meet whenever they need to. The task of deciding your capacity is a part discernment and part guessing game. Set your goals high and see what happens. How do you know if you are stretched too thin?
- You feel relief if someone cancels.
- You are exhausted at the end of a day sitting in front of your Zoom screen or in an office.
- Your personal spiritual practice starts to fall away.
- You feel hard pressed to take care of yourself.
When that happens simply start referring new inquirers to other spiritual directors and then when an existing client falls away, let your client load shrink by attrition. It takes awhile, but it works.
Teresa Blythe is the founder of the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction. She meets regularly with spiritual direction clients and trains people to become spiritual directors. For more information, go to www.teresablythe.net.