I don’t think of myself as a leader, can I still work with you?
Yes, but maybe you are a leader without realising!
I have a broad definition of leadership. A leader sees how things can be improved and inspires others towards that goal.
This requires social influence rather than power or authority. Inspiring others does not assume that they are “direct reports.” There are many styles and pathways of leadership not linked to a specific title or personality traits. Leadership works towards an intentional goal, not influence for the sake of it without an outcome.
So, you might be a parent raising your family, wanting to improve the lot of your children and inspiring the whole family towards that goal. You might be a person with a persistent illness wanting to educate the system about how to engage with patients in a better way and one by one you inspire your practitioners towards that vision.
I am spiritual but not specifically Christian, can I still work with you?
Yes. My approach is to listen for the inner movements toward God and away from God.
For those for whom the “God language” doesn’t work, let me explain. I am noticing movements towards connection (what is life-giving or invigorating for you) or away from connection (disconnection or what is life-denying or draining for you.)
I work with the world view that the individual brings. Even among Christians there are a range of worldviews, so I listen carefully to where that person is coming from and what is inspiring to them.
I have not heard of spiritual direction. Where did it come from?
People have been seeking spiritual counsel or spiritual conversation for eons. Think of the Queen of Sheeba seeking the wisdom of Solomon. Recall the people who encountered Jesus in deep conversation, like Nicodemus, the woman at the well and Peter. You might have heard of the desert mothers and fathers and those who sought them out for counsel.
Over the centuries this has been expressed in various ways, through monks or nuns or anchorites attached to a church. In the past century spiritual direction has gradually become more widely known and available to any souls seeking to deepen their relationship to the Divine.
Why call it spiritual direction? What do the words “spiritual” and “direction” mean?
“Spiritual” refers to the perspective or lens rather than an exclusive focus. For example, when you visit the doctor, you are exploring your lives from a medical perspective. You then make choices that affect other aspects of your life. Likewise, when you attend an exercise class, you are focusing on your lives from a physical perspective. You discover that exercise improves your well-being.
Similarly, in spiritual direction you use the lens of spirituality to notice what is arising within. Some call it “attending to the sacred.” This, of course, affects all of your life.
“Direction” emerges from within the individual during the spiritual direction conversation. When your soul feels safe enough to show up you notice subtle stirrings. The director helps you notice and sift through those stirrings. Noticing and sifting is a process of discernment. Discernment helps you to see what is life-giving at this point in time. What is life giving leads to the next step waiting to be taken.
Some may fear the term “direction.” Does it mean another person telling me what to do and how to live? In the past that may have been the case at times. Today, it means supporting the individual to notice and follow their God given, innate personal direction.
What is the difference between spiritual direction and counselling or coaching or supervision?
The difference between these modalities relates to their focus but let’s look first at what they all have in common.
The foundational aspect of any one-to-one approach is the safe and trusting relationship forged between the participants. Sometimes referred to as the “therapeutic alliance,” this is the basis of the conversation that emerges. The director/counsellor/coach/supervisor offers a compassionate listening presence to which the client brings their lived experience for exploration.
The focus of each is different, as follows:
- Counselling or therapy addresses issues that have become problematic in the person’s life, focussing on mental health and emotional well-being. Often the focus is on analysing the past with the hope of resolving those issues and creating a happier life. Therapy is usually weekly. Once these issues have been resolved therapy stops.
- Coaching focusses on setting and achieving life or business goals. It begins with the client’s current life situation and ensures action toward accomplishing their goals.
- Supervision occurs when a practitioner brings their work experience to the supervisor for support and reflective dialogue. It is based in adult learning principles. Spirituality would only be discussed if relevant to the work situation of the practitioner.
- Spiritual Direction might be initiated due to a crisis or not. Here the focus is on recognising God’s presence and activity in daily life or the particulars of a struggle. When one issue is no longer pressing, the desire to find God’s presence continues into seeking clarity in other aspects of life. The movement towards deeper union with God is ongoing.
How often would I come to spiritual direction?
The frequency of spiritual direction depends on your desires. Initially it could be more often, as you strengthen foundations in the relationship or process a “back-log” of stories to tell. Many people settle on a monthly pattern that can be adapted to current needs.
How long is a session of spiritual direction?
Commonly a session is an hour. Some like longer, say 90 minutes. Sometimes a short, focussed session of 30 minutes is enough to keep making progress in the spiritual life.
How long would I continue in spiritual direction for?
Some come to spiritual direction for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime! Many appreciate continued company through the ongoing process of nurturing their spiritual lives. While this relationship is the right fit for you, stay in spiritual direction for as long as you find it fruitful.
What training does a spiritual director have?
In Australia, the recognition standards for all spiritual direction courses use guidelines developed by the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction. Currently thirteen formation courses are recognised by the Council across Australia. Melbourne is endowed with five accredited courses.
I completed a Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction in 2012. In 2016 I was accredited as a Giver of the Spiritual Exercises through the Arrupe Program. Continuing to study, in 2020 I completed a Masters in Spiritual Direction granted by the University of Divinity through the Jesuit College of Spirituality.
Prior training includes
- Bachelor of Divinity, United Faculty of Theology (1995)
- Bachelor of Social Work, La Trobe University (1982)
- Bachelor of Arts, Monash University (1978)
Do spiritual directors have a code of ethics?
Certainly do! As a registered member of the professional organisation “Companions in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises” I follow the code of ethics developed by the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction. This code was updated in 2019. Also, spiritual directors are obliged to have a current Working with Children Check.
Any other questions?
Wondering about something I have not answered here? Use the contact form to ask about the questions you have.
Curious to learn more?
Contact me today to book a free 20 minute spiritual direction phone conversation.
Together we can explore what spiritual direction could offer you.
If I am not the best fit for you, I can connect you to other spiritual directors.
Spiritual direction is offered in person from Heidelberg, Melbourne, or online.