How is spiritual direction different than mentoring or counseling? See the article on our site What is Spiritual Direction?
What can I expect in a spiritual direction session? A lot of listening. A good spiritual director is careful not to talk too much and will listen long. Conversations may go broad or they may go deep. There may be periods of silence in order to listen to God, and might include prayer. Julian of Norwich famously said about how she did spiritual direction, “I look at God, I look at you, I look back at God.”
How long do sessions last? This is up to the style and discernment of the spiritual director. They can go from a half-hour up to two hours, though many will be about an hour. It profoundly depends on what happens in a given session.
How often do we meet? The directee sets the pace for often there is a meeting, and they will will usually be at least a month apart. This is to ensure that the directee is focusing most of their attention in God’s direction. It is unusual for the spiritual director to initiate the next meeting, as it really is up to the directee discerning when they need to meet again.
Where do we meet? This will depend on the spiritual director that you’re meeting with and will be a mutually agreed upon time and place that works for both people.
Does it cost anything? Any suggested donation amount is at the discretion of the spiritual director and will be discussed in the first meeting. There is no set fee, nor is a donation required. Coracle accepts donations for this ministry, designated for the spiritual director. See the Support page for information on how to give.
Should my director be a part of my church? It is often better for the director and directee to not have a lot of interaction outside the spiritual direction relationship, but this is truly a case by case question.
What makes for a good spiritual director? A good spiritual direction will be grounded deeply in the orthodox Christian faith, will have gone through a formal training process such as described here, and lived long enough to have gone through the painful process of the death of self and seen the faithfulness of God. Ruth Haley Barton provides this helpful overview of what to look for in a spiritual director, including that they are “Experienced in the ways of the soul due, in part, to the faithful attention they have given to their own spiritual journey; Gifted and practiced in discernment and listening to the Spirit; Called and committed to cultivating a life of listening and spiritual accompaniment; Experienced in a variety of spiritual disciplines that open us to God; Able to maintain a prayerful, contemplative stance as they are accompanying others; and Trained through a reputable training program”
How can I become trained as a spiritual director? There are quite a few organizations that offer formal spiritual direction training programs.
What books would you recommend to learn more about spiritual direction? For starters,
Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening, David Benner, Sacred Companions, Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion, and Thomas Merton, Spiritual Direction and Meditation