As a long time Catholic, both personally and professionally (7 years in Catholic seminary and 42 years in religious education ministry) I lived in a world where there is a long tradition of “spiritual direction”, i.e. being in a relationship with someone who is usually older, has more education or training, and or more experience that one meets with on a regular basis as a support, helpful guide, or assistant in one’s spiritual journey. Until recent years spiritual directors were usually ordained clergy or professional women religious (women in vowed religious communities).
In recent years the landscape of spiritual direction has shifted significantly. There are a growing number of lay women and men who have been trained to serve as spiritual directors. In addition the name “director” in the sense of telling people what to believe, what to practice, or what to do no longer fits with the way most trained people function.
Most current “directors” function more as consultants, companions, and support persons. The Celtic tradition term “soul friend” comes closer to the actual relationship in practice.
So another service I offer clients is being a spiritual consultant, companion, support person, or soul friend. A graduate degree in theology, 41 years of working on the pastoral staff of a Catholic parish that served a university community, a life- long engagement in theology and spirituality, a Master’s degree in Social Work, and 24 years in private practice as a therapist creates unique combination of experience, education, and training that could be helpful to many people on their spiritual journey.
The soul friend, consultant, and spiritual companion language most clearly captures my vision of this relationship. This relationship is not about telling the client what to do, believe, or practice. It is about being a resourceful soul friend and spiritual companion who is also an ally and servant of the deepest spiritual part of who they are and are becoming.
This relationship normally would involve meeting monthly, every 6 weeks or every two months. In a time of particular intensity for the client the meetings could be more frequent.