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Spiritual direction is the practice of coming alongside to assist people 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.
For a more detailed explanation of spiritual direction, please visit What Is Spiritual Direction?
In a word, no. Spiritual direction is not about proselytization, propaganda or control. While the term “spiritual direction” has sometimes been misused, the aim of spiritual direction is not to tell another person what to do or control their spiritual journey. Your story is uniquely your own, including your experience of God. It is the responsibility of the spiritual director 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.
Tara Owens is a member of the International Anglican Church of Colorado Springs, Colorado. She has journeyed through and with several denominations, including the United Church of Canada, the United Methodists, the Christian & Missionary Alliance and several non-denominational Bible churches—for each of which she is very grateful. While Tara lives out her faith in the Anglican tradition, and holds to this statement of faith, her practice is ecumenical and welcoming to all.
Spiritual direction sessions are typically 50 minutes in length. A session generally begins with a time of silence and centering, as well as a short time of prayer, if it is comfortable for you. Together with your director, you 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, or exploring new prayer forms. The spiritual direction session is a place of openness and safety, where you and everything you bring is welcome in this space. The session will usually end with a time of prayer or silence as closure.
Everything that happens in a spiritual direction session is confidential.
While spiritual direction has been undergoing a resurgence in the past decade, there is still no universal form of certification in spiritual direction in the United States. Spiritual direction is also practiced in many other faith traditions, thus, it is important to at least have a general idea of what your preferred faith tradition is 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 two-year intensive masters degrees. While proficiency and wisdom in spiritual direction is not necessarily related to education, this is something to take into prayerful consideration as you seek out a spiritual director.
Certification is also a topic of discussion in the spiritual direction community. As previously mentioned, in the U.S. there is no universal form of certification or oversight. There are both positives and negatives to standardization or certification. In Canada, the Canadian Council of Professional Certification sets standards and issues certifications for a Certified Spiritual Director or CSD (if you are interested in the requirements, you can click here). In the United States, the designation CSD is issued through a variety of different organizations with a variety of different standards for certification.
Tara Mansbridge Owens has a Masters of Theological Studies with a concentration in Spiritual Formation from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is a non-denominational evangelical seminary. She certified through the Canadian Council of Professional Certification as a Certified Spiritual Director (CSD). She is a member in good standing of the Tyndale Association of Spiritual Directors (TASD), Spiritual Directors International (SDI) and the Spiritual Formation Network of Colorado Springs. As such, she is bound by the code of ethics for the TASD, SDI and the Canadian Council of Professional Certification.
While spiritual direction does involve some teaching, unlike discipleship, that is not the main thrust of the direction sessions. In discipleship, just as in mentorship, the person to whom the disciple comes takes an active, directive role. Often this involves study, exercises to be completed, and lessons to learn in a successive pattern that is designed to track growth. While your director may sometimes give you exercises to try, or teach in regards to methods of prayer or other topics, 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 summit the mountain, 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. While healing may occur in a spiritual direction session, the thrust of spiritual direction is deepening your relationship with God and with those around you. 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. The aim of therapy is 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. In spiritual direction, there is no sense that the directee needs to heal and “move on”—out of spiritual direction. Unlike counseling, spiritual direction relationships lasting 10, 20, 30 years are considered healthy.
In general, I prefer to meet with directees every two weeks. However, some people find a rhythm of once a month more convenient to reflection. 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.
The first step is to contact Tara Owens, by email or by phone (719-233-5568), to discuss your desire to enter the spiritual direction relationship.
After reading the Preparing for Spiritual Direction page, you should also download the Anam Cara SD Consent Form and return it via fax or as an email attachment.
The rate for spiritual direction with Tara Owens is US$75/hour, plus applicable fees. If you are in financial distress, other arrangements can be discussed.
This can be paid via check or verified PayPal.
Anam Cara Ministries is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The ministry, however, is both national and international.
I meet with local directees in person in my office in Colorado Springs. I can also travel in the Colorado area to meet with directees, which incurs a travel fee per mile in addition to the fee per hour.
Beyond the Colorado area, I meet with directees over the phone or via Skype using a web cam. The latter is my preferred method of meeting with directees at a distance, as it affords greater interaction at a variety of levels.
With a small number of directees, I also conduct 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.
If you are interested in spiritual direction at a distance, I suggest you first download and read Spiritual Direction At A Distance and speak with me directly before deciding if this is right for you.
Definitely not. Tara has run retreats on a variety of subjects and developed guided contemplative experiences, such as a Advent Labyrinth Walks and Discernment Days. In addition to individual and group spiritual direction, Tara has taught classes on spiritual formation, the spiritual disciplines, types of prayer and understanding your prayer personality.
At present, Tara teaches on sexuality and spirituality to both the Year 1 and Year 2 cohorts of spiritual directors at the Benet Pines Spiritual Formation program in Colorado Springs.
Tara blogs on topics of spiritual formation and spiritual direction here at anamcara.com, as well as for the International Anglican Church. She has written for Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction.
Tara is available for speaking engagements and retreats, as well as teaching on a variety of subjects related to spirituality and spiritual formation.
Tara is also the Senior Editor of Conversations Journal, an ecumenical journal of spiritual transformation.
Ideally, the answer to that question is yes. However, we’re a long way for the ideal Church. Truth be told, we’ve forgotten—or not been taught—the very things that would allow us to truly be ‘anam cara’ or soul friends to one another. We live in a busy, distracted society and often congregate in busy, distracted churches. Most of the time, we’re looking for the newest program for Godliness, and have forgotten what it means to truly listen to one another. We’re bereft of people who know how to participate in ‘holy listening’—a ministry of entering into the deep places of the soul with another, not to instruct, but to witness and to listen.
Spiritual direction reminds us how to slow down, showing us how to practice the spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude and guidance (among others). 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. When we have worked on interior freedom with a spiritual director, we often become agents of both peace and change in our churches and our world.
Please feel free to contact Tara by email or phone (719-233-5568) if you have any more questions that you’d like to have answered.