When you go to the Seek and Find Guide from Spiritual Directors International and click on a prospective spiritual director, you’ll see that in addition to their basic contact information (name and phone number) their spiritual affiliation is also listed. (I’m listed as a Unitarian Universalist, for example).
Whether or not you need to learn more about a spiritual director’s spiritual affiliation is one of the questions you might ask yourself when you consider seeing someone for spiritual direction.
Personally, I’d feel comfortable with someone whose affiliation is Unitarian Universalist or Quaker, as well as someone who identifies as Progressive Christian, Humanist, Interfaith, or Interspiritual.
Not that I wouldn’t want to see someone from another tradition. But as Rabbi Harold A. Addison suggests, I might want to ask myself whether or not I need to “better understand the beliefs, practices, and sacred texts that…shape the underlying basis of my guide’s counsel.”
That’s just one of the questions to consider “when deciding whether spiritual direction is right for you at this moment in your life” that Rabbi Addison offers in his book Show Me Your Way: The Complete Guide to Exploring Interfaith Spiritual Direction. Others include:
- Am I really sensing a lack of spiritual meaning in my life at this time, or is it something else that is missing?
- Do I have unresolved psychological issues that I need to address separately with a therapist, either before I enter into spiritual direction or concurrent with my being in guidance?
- If my life seems turbulent and chaotic, will spiritual direction be the most helpful for me at this time or might pastoral counseling offer a more fitting way to help me face present concerns in a religious context?
- Do I need additional religious instruction to help me better understand the beliefs, practices, and sacred texts that will all shape the underlying basis of my guide’s counsel? If I have been raised in another faith and particularly another culture, do I first need to study and acquaint myself with my prospective guide’s traditions to see if I feel comfortable enough with them to proceed?
I admit that I initially went into spiritual direction without giving these questions much consideration. Fortunately I had done a lot of work in therapy already, and my life was relatively free of turbulence and chaos when I started, so it’s turned out just fine.
But I do wish I had known about these questions before I went to my first session. They would have helped me approach the whole process with a lot more intentionality. And when it comes to spiritual growth, the more intentional you are, the more you can gain from seeing a spiritual director.
If you’d like to explore whether or not spiritual direction is right for you, and would be comfortable with someone whose spiritual orientation is compatible with Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, Progressive Christians, Humanists, and those who have an Interfaith or InterSpiritual perspective—including Spiritual but Not Religious, let me know.