Spiritual Direction is a way of appreciating and responding to your life’s journey in the light of our Lord’s life and love. It is when one Christian is trained to be a guide who then “companions” another person, listening to that person’s life story with an ear for the movement of the Holy, of the Divine.
As you continue to grow spiritually and emotionally, it is often helpful to talk to someone about how to integrate all of these experiences into a life of faith. A spiritual director is a companion who is willing to listen and talk about your journey – its joys and its concerns. You enter into a conversation and a trusting relationship in which the director helps you notice and respond to the movement of God as experienced in prayer and in the events of everyday life.
Perhaps you are experiencing a real spiritual hunger and want to explore ways of fulfilling it. You might be asking yourself, “How is God real for me now?” or, “How is my faith meaningful for me in this situation?” These areas point to a desire for a spiritual guide. The focus of spiritual direction is how communication happens between the directee and God, not problem solving.
Regular meetings with a spiritual director can help you notice and become aware of God in self, others, events and all of life! Normally, one meets with a Spiritual Director once a month. Usually Spiritual Directors ask for a nominal fee for their service; most have a sliding scale.
How to begin
What is the difference between Spiritual Direction and Counseling?
Spiritual Directors are trained to focus on your spiritual questions – your deep longings, sacred experiences and your response to what is holy and meaningful in your life. Spiritual Directors are not trained or equipped to work with your personal problems in a goal-oriented or “fixing” mode. In Spiritual Direction, it is not unusual that emotional patterns or fears can be obstacles to growth in holiness and may need therapeutic attention that is beyond the director’s scope of expertise. For instance, someone suffering from severe anxiety or depression or from scrupulosity, a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, would benefit from psychotherapy to reduce their distress and expose and heal the root cause of their problem. In such a case, a working relationship between the spiritual director and the therapist, with the client’s permission and cooperation, would be the optimal approach to give the client the best results. Spiritual Directors encourage the once-a-month model so that our time together is a gentle “check-in” around experiences that have either drawn your closer to God or felt more life obstacles on your path.
Counseling helps us to work through and resolve problems in our lives and relationships. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, goes deeper and is primarily focused on the emotional life and helps us to heal past hurts and to look at and resolve unhealthy patterns in our lives. Such counseling usually takes place weekly or twice a month. Another form of counseling help called Life Coaching deals with the present to help a person maximize their time and talents and set and achieve future goals. Coaching is also a great way to hone communication, problem solving, and organization and time management skills. Pastoral Counseling integrates theology or spirituality with therapeutic counseling.
Many thanks to the Oratorians of the Rock Hill Deanery for information for this article. If you have any questions about Spiritual Direction, please do not hesitate to contact Sister Kathy Adamski, OSF, MA, MS, Associate Director, Office of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry of the Diocese of Charleston at email@example.com or 843.261.0498.
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