What is Spiritual Companioning?
Spiritual companioning is a pastoral ministry in which one person helps another to:
The ACSD website gives various definitions of spiritual companioning including this,
"Spiritual direction (companioning) is not psychotherapy nor is it an inexpensive substitute, although the disciplines are compatible and frequently share raw material. Spiritual direction is not pastoral counselling, nor is it to be confused with the mutuality of deep friendships, for it is unashamedly hierarchical. Not because the director is somehow "better" or "holier" than the directee, but because, in this covenant relationship the director has agreed to put him/her self aside so that his/her total attention can be focused on the person sitting in the other chair. What a gift to bring to another, the gift of disinterested, loving attention." - Margaret Guenther
Another definition is given in this statement,
"For us ... religious experience is to spiritual direction what foodstuff is to cooking. Without religious experience there can be no spiritual direction." - Barry and Connolly
As we examine these definitions, notice the key phrases: pay attention, grow in intimacy, covenant relationship, loving attention, religious experience. Good spiritual companioning helps a client to better notice what is going on in their life spiritually. As they do that the possibility of their spiritual development is enhanced.
In spiritual companioning conversation about God happens to the extent and in the way that the directee is open to exploring his/her relationship with God.
ACSD Membership Covenant with Code of Ethics & Complaints Procedure
For the safety and benefit of clients working with a spiritual companion and in other ministry, and as a matter of discipline, iCare companions fully subscribe to the terms and conditions of these three ACSD-ANZ documents.
What happens during a typical spiritual companioning session?
Naturally this will vary depending on the people involved. The norm is for a session of about one hour during which the companion actively listens and responds to the client's conversation. The focus of each session will be the client's relationship with God. Normally spiritual companioning sessions will recur monthly to six weekly, depending on the arrangements made.
A Sample Spiritual Companioning Agreement
Do I have to be an active worshipper to benefit from spiritual companioning?
No. Many companions will be comfortable working with clients who have not made an active commitment to Christ or the Church. Such companions accept that we are all on a journey spiritually and they will seek to meet people respectfully, wherever they are along the way. In that regard inter-faith spiritual companioning is possible where both parties are agreeably comfortable with each other and respectful of their different perspectives.
While typically spiritual companioning is received by (indeed often expected of) those in formal, active ministry appointments; anyone may benefit from being in a spiritual companioning relationship, perhaps for a short season or perhaps longer.
As with most things new or unfamiliar, taste and see if this is right for you. Most spiritual companions, will offer an introductory session free of charge and be comfortable having a three session trial arrangement after which there is an open review, before the relationship continues or terminates.
It is a requirement for membership of the Association of Christian Spiritual Directors Inc. that all members have regular supervision for their spiritual companioning practice.
The primary purpose of supervision is to enable the companion to grow both personally and professionally in order to best meet the needs of the directee, through awareness of such issues as inter-personal relationships, boundaries, safety etc.
Supervision is a confidential, structured and contracted relationship which enables the companion to reflect critically on her/his work with a competent colleague, preferably one who has formal training in supervision. There is a strong commitment to learning, reflection and challenge.
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