Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions we get at Anam Cara

Spiritual direction is the practice of coming alongside people to assist them in attuning their hearts to the movement of God in their stories. In individual and group sessions, the director provides the gift of holy listening, a sacred practice of welcoming the presence of the other and of God in a contemplative and transformative experience. Very few spiritual directors like the term “director.” In spiritual direction the role of the director is to be the “third in the room:” someone there to listen well, to ask questions or to reflect what the directee is experiencing in order to help them connect deeply to themselves and God.

In a word, no. Spiritual direction is not about proselytization, propaganda or control. The aim of spiritual direction is not to tell another person what to do or to control their spiritual journey. Your story is uniquely your own, including your experience of God. A spiritual director’s role is to assist you in discerning the movement of the Spirit of God in your life, and to help you to align yourself to that movement.

Anam Cara Ministries is a non-denominational, ecumenical ministry that is not formally associated with any specific church body. We welcome directees from all denominations and faith journeys. The spiritual directors at Anam Cara come from a variety of backgrounds and streams of the Christian faith.

Spiritual direction sessions are typically 50 minutes long. A session generally begins with a time of welcoming and settling in. Sometimes, the director and directee will co-create a space of silence and centering, and if you wish, there may be a short time of prayer if that is comfortable for you. Then, you and your director will often spend time discovering and dialoguing about the movements of God in your life recently. Other times, the session could focus on entering into silence well, exploring new prayer forms, or simply listening to God. The session will usually end with a time of prayer or silence as closure.

A spiritual direction session is a place of openness and safety, where you and everything you bring are welcome. Everything that happens in a spiritual direction session is confidential.

No, there is a wide variety. Spiritual direction is practiced in many faith traditions, so it’s important to at least have a general idea of your preferred faith tradition when you seek out a spiritual director.

The education programs available for spiritual directors also vary from state to state and country to country. The length and depth of training ranges from two-week programs to three-year intensive master’s degrees. While proficiency and wisdom in spiritual direction are not necessarily related to education, this is something to take into prayerful consideration as you seek out a spiritual director.

Spiritual direction can also look different in different cultures and ethnic communities. In the modern West, spiritual direction is often more formalized and structured. In other countries and in some communities in the modern West, a variety of cultural groups experience spiritual direction in a less formal or sometimes more communal settings.

Certification is also a topic of discussion in the spiritual direction community.  In Canada, the Canadian Council of Professional Certification (CCPC) sets standards and issues certifications for a Certified Spiritual Director (CSD). If you are interested in the requirements, you can click here to learn more.

In the United States, there is currently no universal form of certification or oversight. Instead, the designation CSD is issued through a variety of different organizations with a variety of different standards for certification. There is now a global certifying body for both CSDs and Certified Spiritual Director Supervisors (CSDSs) called CCPC Global. It evolved from CCPC, and you can learn more about it here.

It is also important to seek a spiritual director operating within clear standards of ethics and care. Your soul is worth cherishing and holding within a space that holds integrity to the practice of spiritual direction as one of its highest goals. We encourage you to ask any spiritual director whether they subscribe to a particular code of ethics or guidelines for care. All Anam Cara spiritual directors agree to the Anam Cara Code of Ethics, which you can read here.

In discipleship, just as in mentorship, the person to whom the disciple comes takes an active, directive role. This often involves study, exercises to be completed, and lessons to learn in a successive pattern that is designed to track growth.


While spiritual direction does involve some teaching, that is not the main thrust of the direction sessions. Your director may sometimes give you exercises to try or may teach in regards to methods of prayer or other topics, but the predominant role of a director is as a listener and guide. Much as you wouldn’t expect your guide up Mount Everest to stand at the bottom and instruct you in the methods needed to reach the summit, a director takes the path with you, listening, watching, and only occasionally intervening when he or she sees that you may be veering close to a cliff edge.

Spiritual direction is quite explicitly neither counseling nor therapy. Counseling seeks to redress specific areas of wounding or dysfunction and equip the client with tools—both psychological and social—that will enable them to lead full, functional lives. Therapy aims to deal with the issues, both presenting and underlying, that brought the client to therapy in the first place and enable them to move out of the counseling setting into their lives independent of the therapist.

While healing may occur in a spiritual direction session, the focus of spiritual direction is deepening your relationship with God and with those around you. There is no sense that the directee needs to move on from spiritual direction. In fact, spiritual direction relationships lasting 10, 20, or even 30 years are considered healthy.

In general, our directors meet with directees monthly or every two weeks. Occasionally, life circumstances warrant meeting with the directee once a week. However, that intensity of direction is only meant for a season before returning to a twice-a-month schedule.

At Anam Cara, we understand that finding a right spiritual director for you can feel confusing and intimidating. There are several paths to getting started meeting with a spiritual director. One path is to look through our list of active spiritual directors and reach out to one to three who feel like they may be a good match. Feel free to tell them you are discerning which director is right for you, and know you are welcome to take your time in that process.

Another path is to contact someone who can help guide you to a few people who may fit what you are looking for—even if you’re unsure what that is yourself. At Anam Cara, we have someone called an Ostiary—the word for sacred doorkeeper at a church or other sacred site—whose role is to listen to you, ask questions to help understand your background and the kind of companionship that would be a good fit for you, and to make a few recommendations based on that time together. These conversations are free and can take place over the phone or Zoom. You are under no obligation to reach out to the spiritual directors suggested, and our Ostiary will recommend directors both inside and outside the Anam Cara network of directors who we know practice spiritual direction ethically and with great care. You can contact our Ostiary, Rached Reed, at

An average spiritual direction session costs between $60-$130/hour, with a wide variation depending on geography and training. Each spiritual director runs their practice differently as they continue to discern and live out their call to holy listening, their responsibility to the communities they serve, and their own families and needs. Some directors do not charge, some ask for donations, and others charge a fee but have a sliding scale.

At Anam Cara, we have directors who practice in many different ways: fee-for-service, donation, and at no cost. We also have some scholarship funding for the BIPOC and other marginalized communities for whom accessing the care of a spiritual director might be difficult.

If you’re looking for a low- or no-cost introduction to spiritual direction, many of our apprentices are open to taking on new directees and do not charge fees during the duration of their training.

Anam Cara Ministries is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The ministry, however, is both national and international. We also have staff offices in Nashville, Tennesse, and our directors and staff travel regularly to teach and train.

No. Most of our spiritual directors meet locally and at a distance with directees. We have directors located in Colorado, New Jersey, California, Texas, North Carolina, Tennesse, Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and British Columbia, Canada.

If you are interested in spiritual direction at a distance, it is important to consider the location and methods that will help you be the most focused and present to spiritual direction—a time of care for your deeply precious soul. Some questions and things to think about before engaging in distance spiritual direction can be found here.

A few of our directors are open to practicing the ministry of letter writing, in which letters are exchanged as a method of soul care. This practice of letter writing is an ancient one, undertaken by spiritual companions such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

With a small number of directees, Tara also conducts a ministry of writing, in which letters are exchanged as a method of soul care. This practice of letter writing is an ancient one, undertaken by spiritual companions such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

A few of our other spiritual directors offer distance options as well. If you are interested, we suggest you first download and read Spiritual Direction At A Distance and speak with Tara before deciding if this is right for you. Tara can be reached by email or by phone (719-233-5568).

Definitely not! In addition to spiritual direction, Anam Cara offers the Anam Cara Apprenticeship in spiritual direction, which is a relationship-based learning in the ancient tradition of apprenticeship. Our directors and staff also plan and lead contemplative experiences and retreats, teaches classes related to spiritual formation, and lead rabbinic Scripture study both in person and online. For more information, visit our Formation & Training or Resources & Events pages.

Many of our directors have a particular focus or passion, from liturgical Christianity to embodiment to trauma-informed healing modalities to play as a form of spiritual practice and everything both in between and beyond.

Our founder, Tara Owens, also writes on topics of spiritual formation and spiritual direction. She has written two books (Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh & Bone and At Play In God’s Creation: A Contemplative Coloring Book) and numerous articles. She served as the Senior Editor of Conversations Journal, an ecumenical journal of spiritual transformation, for seven years. Her work has also appeared in Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction.

Both yes and no.

Ideally, the answer to that question is yes. However, we’re a long way from the ideal Church. We’ve forgotten—or not been taught—the very things that would allow us to truly be soul friends to one another. We live in a busy, distracted society and often congregate in busy, distracted churches, looking for the newest program for godliness.

We also live in a time (like many times in history) where some local churches and denominations are places of harm rather than care. Many people have experienced not just harm but hurt and sometimes trauma in places meant to be spaces of spiritual succor. Spiritual direction can be a safe, healing space to unpack those wounds and find hope that a healthy spirituality where agency and dignity are safeguarded is possible. If this is you, we also highly recommend finding a therapist trained in trauma and spiritual abuse as part of your well-deserved team of care.

Spiritual direction reminds us how to slow down, showing us what it means to truly listen to one another. It helps us practice the spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude, and guidance. It equips us not only to have a deep, transformative relationship with God, but also enables us to move in peace and love toward others. And when we have worked on interior freedom with a spiritual director, we often become agents of peace and change in our churches and our world.

Please feel free to contact any of our spiritual directors, our Ostiary, Rachel Reed, or our staff members, Jeremy Frye, and Tara Owens.