Not limited to Christianity, it is a concept that stems from several spiritual traditions including Jesuit, Benedictine, Ignatian, Celtic and Franciscan, to name but a few.
The goals of spiritual direction are to provide hope, companionship, and opportunity for growth. These are achieved through taking time to learn, reflect on experiences, be creative, and build insight. One might say it is where spirituality and psychology meet: spirituality is where we meet God / where we seek and find connections with the “other”; and psychology is about how we meet others / how we experience relationships with our neighbours.
What is the difference between Spiritual Direction and Counselling?
While counselling might be thought of as being concerned with your relationship with others, spiritual direction is concerned with your relationship with God/the “other”, and how this informs your choices.
It is clear that there is overlap between counselling and spiritual direction: your belief system informs how you conduct yourself in interpersonal relationships, and likewise your experiences of God / “connection with the other” and of relationships, inform your own internal ever-evolving belief system.
What is involved in attending sessions for Spiritual Direction?
When facilitating spiritual direction, I will seek your permission to look not only to your relationship history and personality traits, but also to your religious and spiritual heritage:
- Where have you experienced connection with the “other”?
- What have you been taught and by whom?
- What has been your experience of community, of belonging, and of your place in the world?
- What path do you seek to explore further?
- What factors guide your decision-making?
Note that this is a journey had by us all, and is not limited to those with a formal religious heritage.
The main themes tend to be identifying what you personally identify as holy (meaning “different” or “set apart”) and virtuous, with a focus on building self-knowledge. As such, it requires us to be honest and humble in how we articulate what we are good and bad at. It might involve what feels like a scientific or logical examination of events, or could just as easily take us along an experiential or emotional journey.
As the facilitator of our sessions, I believe I am called to be non-judgmental, transparent, and objective, as I walk beside you on this fascinating and exciting expedition.
Author: Naomi Griffin, BA (Psych & Music); Grad Dip in Pastoral Couns; PG Dip Psych; Grad Cert Case Management; Grad Cert Ed Studies (Career Development); STAP; MAPS; MCCoun.
Please Note: Naomi is not currently practising at Vision Psychology, but is continuing to provide supervision for provisional (including 4+2 and 5+1) and registered psychologists, and for ministry agents in the wider Christian community. If you would like information regarding supervision, or would like to book an appointment with a Christian psychologist, please contact Reception on 1800 877 924.
- “Spiritual Direction and the Encounter with God” by William A. Barry
- “The Art of Spiritual Guidance” by Carolyn Gratton
- “Spiritual Direction: A practical introduction” by Martin Thornton
- “Spiritual Direction: An invitation to abundant life” by Francis W. Vanderwall