Making the Decision to Refer: Spiritual Directors Look at the Potential Need for Counseling

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Walker, Kathalin
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
During the course of a spiritual direction relationship it sometimes becomes necessary for a director to suggest to a directee that she or he seek assistance from a psychotherapist in addition to or, in extreme cases, instead of, the spiritual direction being sought. A problem arises, however, in the director being able to determine whether or not that time has come in any given relationship. Various factors may contribute to the dilemma spiritual directors experience when faced with the potential need to refer a directee for counseling. Experienced directors may encounter difficulties in discerning the situation, perhaps through a reluctance to suggest to a long-term directee that she of he should “start over” with someone else. Or perhaps, while recognizing the need to a more therapeutic approach to a situation, the director has a lack of referral resources. A primary factor however, is inexperience on the part of the director. Addressing the period of inexperience which we all must go through at the beginning of our ministry is the focus of this project.