What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual direction is a Christian term which is a process between an educated and experienced individual and one seeking a deeper relationship with God.  The Spiritual Director walks with the directee as a companion offering listening skills and spiritual support.  A confidential environment is sought so that both discern the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Spiritual Direction is neither psychotherapy nor pastoral counseling that aim to solve specific problems. Meetings are usually scheduled for once a month and last for one hour.  A fee may be discussed at one’s initial meeting.

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 kadamski@charlestondiocese.org or 843.261.0498.

Suggested Parish Bulletin Announcement

Why You Should Make Time for Spiritual Direction

In Becky Eldredge’s new series: Spiritual Direction: Why I Make Time For It, she invites four people to share what spiritual direction has meant to them in their own lives and why they have made seeing a spiritual director a priority.

Useful resources

Become A Spiritual Director

Spring Hill College (Mobile, AL), founded in 18, is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast.  The CSD program began at their home campus in 1999.  The first cohort in the Diocese of Charleston was formed in the Fall of 2018.

Certificate of Spiritual Direction/CSD program is designed to guide students as they grown in their own personal spirituality and to gain basic skills for contemplative listening and discernment.  Hybrid classes combine face-to-face instruction with online work.  Requirements:  18 credits, two full years (4 semesters & 2 summers Spirituality Institute).  Year One:  Spiritual Direction Seminar/Fall (3 credits); Spirituality & Psychology/Spring (3 credits)  Year Two:  Spiritual Directions Practicum I & II/Fall-Spring (4 credits total)

Certificate of Ignatian Spirituality/CIS is designed for those who seek to enrich their personal spirituality, but do not intend to guide others through spiritual direction.  Requirements:  18 credits (same as CSD), but Year Two is replaced by a third summer of the Spirituality Institute.

Summer Spirituality Institute:  2 weekends + online (for 2 summers — total of 8 credits or for CIS 3 summers — total of 12 credits).  Core Courses (4 credits total:  Prayer & Discernment and Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Spirituality Electives (1-3 credits each, total of 4; for CIS, total of 8)

Class Sessions/Locations:  Year One & Two Fall and Spring semesters) meet one Saturday a month (twice online and twice at Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia, SC) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 4 times a semester Year One and 5 times during Year Two.  Summer Spirituality Institute courses meet in June for two summers, either online or at the Spring Hill College campus in Mobile over two weeks or two intensive weekends.

Prerequisites:  These may also be fulfilled as “co-requisites” during the course of the SD program.

  • 30 credit hours (or non-credit equivalents) in biblical, historical, and moral theology (not required for CIS)
  • One individually-directed Ignatian retreat (5-8) days, as well as a second retreat during the course of the program
  • Experience at least one year of ongoing spiritual direction (may be begun at the start of the program)

Cost:  $345/credit hour or $6, 210 for the entire certificate program.  Cohort limited to 20 students total (CSD and CIS combined).

Contact Deacon Tom Whalen by April 30 if interested in these programs or email theology@shc.edu.

Congratulations to our new Spiritual Directors who received their certification in Spiritual Direction! 

On Saturday, November 14, 2020, the Bishop commissioned the new Spiritual Directors for the Diocese of Charleston. As students, they studied for two years and completed their practicum with Spring Hill College. The group met with Fr. Christopher Viscardi, SJ once a month at Our Lady of the Hills in Columbia and once a month on ZOOM. The second year of study was a practicum where they met with people seeking spiritual direction. Mass was followed by an appreciation luncheon. The diocesan liaisons for the program are Sr. Kathy Adamski, OSF and Deacon Tom Whalen.

This first class included nine people. The next class, which began in September has 17 individuals being trained to be spiritual directors or mentors. It is thrilling to see that more Catholics are seeking to be trained and more seeking to be mentored so that each grow deeper in their intimate relationship with Jesus.

Anyone who feels they may be called to be a spiritual director should contact Sr. Kathy Adamski at 843.261.0498 or kadamski@charlestondiocese.org.

Pictured Left to Right: Dcn. Kurt Herbst, Sister Nelida Naveros-Cordova (Spring Hill Professor) Marilyn Mauriello, Bishop Guglielmone, Fr. John Bosco, Carole Nicolini and Deacons Barry O’Brien and Bert Chavez. Not Pictured: Elena Ziegler, Sue Hinderlinder and John Sarpy.

Bishop Guglielmone’s Homily November 14, 2020

Commissioning of New Spiritual Directors