Spiritual Direction Specialization

Spiritual Direction Specialization

Spiritual direction, sometimes called “the listening tradition,” is the art of helping another person see God in his or her life. Like counselors, spiritual directors work with clients in on-on-one sessions and focus on listening well and asking the right questions. But unlike counselors, spiritual directors are not seeking a solution to a problem, nor do they help clients deal with unhealthy relationship habits, the loss of a loved one, or other personal life scenarios. A spiritual director’s field of vision is narrowly focused on the client’s relationship with God—a professional service that’s been largely absent since the disappearance of Catholic anchoresses centuries ago.

Spiritual direction training is centered in teaching students to notice God’s movement, be present to self, and attuned to other’s emotions. Students spend two semesters cultivating self-awareness through the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and contemplative prayer, then learn frameworks for spiritual development as well as listening and questioning skills. They also study the ethics of spiritual direction, including when to report a client or refer someone to a therapist, and they partner with experienced spiritual directors to develop their skills in practice.

Portland Seminary is one of few evangelical seminaries to offer a spiritual direction specialization, and it was one of the first to develop this curriculum. Portland Seminary also offers a one-year certification program in spiritual direction for students who are serious about practicing spiritual direction professionally.

Offered With

Who It’s For

  • Retired pastors and other students in the second half of life who have the wisdom that comes with years of watching God at work
  • Counselors who want to use spiritual direction as a tool to help clients experiencing a crisis of faith
  • Students who want to serve through spiritual retreats
  • Students interested in supporting pastors and other faith leaders in their own spiritual crises
  • Students who are known for attending to others in crisis or are considered wise by their peers

Course Requirements

SFAD 551 Awareness and Identity I 2
SFAD 552 Awareness and Identity II 2
SFAD 555 Seminar in Spiritual Formation & Discipleship I 2
SFAD 565 Seminar in Spiritual Formation & Discipleship II 2
SFAD 571 Becoming a Spiritual Director I 2
SFAD 572 Becoming a Spiritual Director II 2
For students with spiritual direction experience. Requires faculty/advisor permission.