Spiritual direction supervision supports the care and growth of spiritual directors in service of those they accompany. Supervision focuses on the spiritual director so he or she can better serve the directee and his or her relationship with God.
What is Supervision?
Supervision is a contemplative, sacred process undertaken individually or in conversation among multiple spiritual directors. Supervision meetings explore an experience of one spiritual director as he or she companions a directee. Supervision is a reflective practice. A spiritual director engaged in supervision will take time after a spiritual direction session to become aware and notice what transpired within a spiritual direction session and what continues to hold energy within the spiritual director following the session. This then becomes the focus of the spiritual director’s reflection, first alone and then with another spiritual director or peer group. The supervision process invites the spiritual director to take time to explore what is beneath the surface within oneself: to better understand oneself, to discover how best to accompany seekers, and to acknowledge how God is present and active in the spiritual direction relationship. Supervision always respects the anonymity and confidentiality of the directees. The goal of supervision is to assist the spiritual director to become more supportive and skilled in accompanying the seeker in their relationship with God.
What is the importance of Supervision?
Spiritual directors are people with personal gifts and weaknesses, who are affected by their own—and the directee's—feelings and experiences. Spiritual directors need to be committed to ongoing education, self-care and spiritual care including attention and self-awareness to their interior experiences, their assumptions, and their freedom or lack of freedom in relationship to the directee and God.
The spiritual director notices and explores interior movements, emotional reactions, thought patterns, embodied and verbal responses that occur before, during, or after a session with a directee. Following this exploration, the spiritual director allows some contemplative time in silence to ponder the fruits and insights that arise from the reflective process. Unresolved or unacknowledged beliefs and feelings can get in the way of supporting directees to explore their interior space. Regular reflection on the interior life of spiritual directors while they offer spiritual direction is part of the ethical contract (covenant) for spiritual companions. See SDI’s Guidelines for Ethical Conduct.
Supervision supports the spiritual director through continued care and growth in vocation, calling, and skills as a spiritual director.Supervision supports the growth and development of spiritual direction for all soul care providers.
Models of Supervision
Supervision has long been considered an essential tool for individuals who offer spiritual direction. Supervision is an opportunity to explore the movement of the Sacred in both the spiritual director and the spiritual directee. The format of supervision varies.
Self-supervision: Because spiritual direction is primarily a solitary ministry and service, spiritual directors must learn to be accurately self-reflective regarding their strengths, limitations, and learning edges as a spiritual companion. The process of self-supervision needs attention after every meeting with a spiritual directee and is the initial process that must be honoured before engaging in other models of supervision.
Individual Supervision: A one-on-one meeting with a trained supervisor helps a spiritual director understand one’s own strengths, limitations, and learning needs. Spiritual directors who companion many spiritual seekers may choose individual supervision because it gives them greater opportunity to process the material that arises.
Peer Supervision/Group Supervision: During peer or group supervision, the spiritual director reflects upon his or her experience of spiritual direction and a group of peers share their insights with the spiritual director. The spiritual director is invited to reflect upon the gifts and areas of growth he or she is experiencing while meeting with spiritual directees. It can be helpful to have a facilitator or trained supervisor in a group to assist the members in staying faithful to the goals of peer supervision. The advantage of supervision in a peer or group setting includes every member of the group learning from the material that is presented.
Consultation: No matter how well prepared an individual is to offer spiritual direction, the spiritual director may face an individual, situation, or experience that requires additional expertise. At these times, consultation is an appropriate part of the supervisory process. Consultation educates a spiritual director and provides information and resources that will assist in meeting the needs of a spiritual directee. In addition, consultation helps a spiritual director recognize the limits of his or her competency and identify when it is appropriate to refer the spiritual directee to a qualified professional.
In my practice, we enter the supervision process first before moving on to consultation, if or when needed.
* Much of the above information was adapted from the Spiritual Directors International website.
Is there a cost involved?
As with spiritual direction, supervision is a professional service. Therefore, supervision of spiritual direction usually involves paying a fee. Suggested offerings are indicated here.
What if I live in a different location?
Traditionally, supervision occurred in face-to-face meetings. With the advantage of modern technology, supervision can now be accessed via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom. I am privileged to offer both spiritual direction and supervision of spiritual directors internationally by these digital means. We can discuss the possibilities further once we connect.
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