What is Spiritual Direction?
God takes initiative in our individual lives. The way to fully grasp God’s desire for each of us is to become aware of God’s action in our lives. Spiritual direction (mentoring, companioning, friendship) is the meeting of two or more people to help understand the role God plays in a person’s life. “Spiritual direction” is a bit of a misnomer since the true spiritual director is God; the human director’s role is to accompany another person in their journey to and with God.
People often come for direction when they are experiencing changes in their life, when they have doubts, when they are in a difficult decision-making process, or when they feel something is missing in their lives. Sometimes we have experiences which we perceive are of God but need help to understand them. Or, people often come when they are looking for some, often indefinable, more. In spiritual direction both people then listen together for the movements of the Holy Spirit in the person’s life. The primary task of a spiritual director is to help people notice how God takes initiative in their lives, how they respond to God’s initiatives, and how they react to God’s action.
Spiritual direction is strictly private and confidential. Not even the identity of directees is revealed. The hope is to foster an attitude of trust where directees may feel free to express themselves openly.
What happens in a spiritual direction session?
During a typical session of spiritual direction, a person might speak about any aspect of their life: the quality of important relationships, the attitude towards work or career, the hopes and worries, the struggles and goals, joyful memories and regrets. But in all of this, the focus is finally on the person’s religious experience. Most immediately, religious experience refers especially to the feelings or shifts in feelings, the thoughts, and inspirations, which come to the person as they open themselves to God in all these areas of their life. While a person might be especially aware of these actions of God during prayer, awareness of God’s action can happen any time to people who are consciously living in relationship with God. Other important aspects of spiritual direction include:
- Discernment: to discuss the direction of one’s life as it develops in relationship with God.
- Grounding: regular sessions invite a remembering and awareness of the Holy.
- Resources: referral to classes, books, workshops.
When is Spiritual Direction appropriate?
Spiritual direction is for all who have a commitment to a prayer life and who desire to deepen their relationship with God;
How is spiritual direction different from therapy?
In therapy the focus is on a one’s emotional well being. In spiritual direction the focus is on God and the relationship between God and the directee. Spiritual direction fosters a contemplative attitude that is always alert to the presence of God in all things.
What is the training of a spiritual director?
Spiritual directors have been trained in a qualified program which includes a two year course in spirituality and a two year practicum. They are skilled in listening, compassion, and discernment. They are practical theologians helping to reflect on one’s cultural and religious heritage. They adhere to standards of professional boundaries, ethical conduct, strict confidentiality, and regular peer supervision.
How do I begin?
Contact Linda Bausserman (401-949-4572) for an initial interview to discuss your needs and concerns and explore her approach without further obligation. At this session dates and times for further meetings can be set. Or, if you desire, you may be referred to another director.
How often do I come for direction?
Appointments are usually scheduled once a month for an hour. Since it is a spiritual process, the relationship lasts as long as you and the director find it nourishing. A periodic review of the director-directee relationship is recommended.
Training and experience
Linda Bausserman is a graduate of the Shalom Program in Formative Spirituality and the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program in the School of Spirituality at Mercy Center, Madison, CT. She is experienced in leading prayer retreats and small groups on spiritual formation.