Finding a new spiritual director can be confusing and nerve-racking. It feels so important to find someone you can fully trust with your spiritual journey.
Most spiritual directors will offer a free initial conversation to get to know each other and go over their offering of spiritual direction. This is a great time to get a sense of how you feel when you are with them, and also to ask all your questions.
Here are some questions you might want to ask - some you might have thought of and maybe some you haven’t. Ideally, a spiritual director will already answer most of these questions in their introduction or on their webpage, but otherwise feel free to ask in your conversation.
1. Do they have a favourite image or metaphor for spiritual direction?
I love getting this question! Asking it will help you understand how the spiritual director understands their work and give you an insight into their style.
2. What did their journey into Spiritual Direction look like?
Asking this question will give you a sense of their own faith background and why spiritual direction is part of their vocation. I don't believe you need to find a spiritual companion who aligns with you on every theological point - that would be nearly impossible, and a good companion will not be trying to convert you to their outlook - but it is helpful to get a sense of their general positioning within the wider faith community. You need to trust that you can share your full self with them without holding back.
3. Where did they train? And what does their ongoing development look like?
All good spiritual directors will have received specific training for a known formation centre. (Being ordained or having seminary training is not enough by itself). Feel free to ask how long it was and what the training covered if you are interested.
Good spiritual directors will also be investing in their own ongoing development, so should be able to tell you what that looks like (for example, I regularly join training seminars from the London Centre for Spiritual Direction and Anam Cara Ministries).
4. Are they in regular supervision?
Supervision is vital for the ongoing growth and development of a spiritual director, and ensuring they are accountable to someone. This is also key in protecting against the possibility of spiritual abuse within the relationship. Your spiritual director should be receiving regular supervision either in a group or individual setting.
5. Do they subscribe to a code of ethics for spiritual directors?
This question will help you understand how a spiritual director is ensuring their own ethical standards in their work. They may be part of a network of spiritual directors that have their own code of conduct (e.g. The London Centre for Spiritual Direction requires this of all community members) or they may have subscribed to a well-known public statement. Part of that code of ethics should be how to respond appropriately to safeguarding situations.
6. How much do they charge?
There is still a lot of variety in how spiritual directors support their work. Those employed by another organisation or those who have retired from another career may offer it for free. Many are now charging for their work, to make a living or to cover their costs (e.g. supervision, ongoing training, room hire, travel, and network subscriptions).
A good spiritual director will be upfront about their costs and not make you feel uncomfortable for talking about money.