What is the difference between spiritual direction and counseling?
There are many similarities between spiritual direction and counseling. Both imply partnering and working with someone to help guide you through life’s journey. Both require active listening skills and offer a safe and supportive space to talk about life. Both have a focus to help you live a fully functioning, self actualized life. However, there are some important differences too.
Counseling focuses on problem solving, crisis management, and generally deals with symptoms and circumstances. The counselor sets the agenda which is situational, goal-oriented, and centered on “fixing.” Some counselors do bring a spiritual element to their work: however, spirituality is not the main focus.
Spiritual direction, rather than focusing on problem solving, offers ongoing support for someone seeking to deepen their relationship with God through prayer, introspective space and sacred rhythms of spiritual disciplines. While therapeutic and transformative, the intent of spiritual direction is to develop a heightened awareness of God’s presence in the sacred story of now, revealing hope and direction for the future, all while honoring the experiences of the past.