My approach to dreamwork is grounded in the practice of “spiritual direction.” To bring some context to the kind of individual dreamwork I offer, I wrote last week about what “spiritual direction” is, and what it is not (“What Does ‘Spiritual Direction’ Mean?”). In particular: Spiritual direction does not mean that the spiritual director is “directing” the process, but that possible “directions” are being sought and explored.
This week, I’ll follow up by addressing some practical questions I’ve been asked, on the same theme.
Where do I find a spiritual director?
It is important to find a spiritual director whose personality and approach is right for you. There are plenty of good spiritual directors, and you may want to meet with several before making a decision. Many will offer a free consultation of some kind— sometimes in the form of a half-session or an opportunity for you to interview them about their approach to spiritual direction.
Through Compass Dreamwork, I offer an initial session for free, and you may use the time any way you like, either as a regular spiritual direction/dreamwork session, or as a chance to ask questions. There doesn’t need to be a distinction between whether the work is “spiritual direction” or “dreamwork.” If you choose to focus on dreams, then we would still be looking at dreams in the context of your spiritual life; if you choose to focus on your spiritual life, dreams may be useful (or not), but there will still be an atmosphere that welcomes all experiences, including those of a dream-like nature.
If you are looking for a spiritual director, you can contact me (phone: 503-231-2894 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ) for a free session, or for referrals to other local organizations and individuals that offer spiritual direction. Phone or Skype sessions work just as well, if you are not local to Portland, Oregon. Spiritual Directors International (www.sdiworld.org) also has listings of qualified directors in your area, wherever you are.
How much does it cost?
Spiritual direction is generally less expensive than therapy (though rarely covered by insurance), but you should expect to pay something for this service, since good spiritual directors are trained and experienced professionals. Some churches may offer free spiritual direction from pastoral care providers within their own community or clergy, although generally it is best to make some contribution to the church in payment if possible, even if this is not required.
Most spiritual directors charge between $50 and $150 per session. Some spiritual directors offer a sliding scale. At Compass Dreamwork, the initial session is free, and after that I charge $75 per one-hour session (or $105 per hour-and-a-half). Payment is usually expected by the end of each session.
It is a good idea to compare financial arrangements as well as qualifications and personality in choosing a spiritual director, as practices and costs vary widely.
What should I expect?
A good spiritual director will be a good, clear communicator and an even better listener. S/he will be warm and welcoming, but also respectful of boundaries and able to maintain a professional perspective. A session of spiritual direction should center on the directee, and not on the director’s opinions, ideas, or feelings. A spiritual director should be able to ask you relevant questions, make suggestions, and even push you a little if this is comfortable for you, but should not take charge of your spiritual life. You should expect strict confidentiality from any competent spiritual director.
Over the long term, regular sessions with a spiritual director usually happen about once or twice a month. However, more frequent meetings are possible, and encouraged during times of crisis or when director and directee are first getting to know each other. Sometimes, directees call for sessions at irregular intervals, whenever they need or wish to “check in,” or to talk about a particular issue—and most spiritual directors can accommodate this.
In most cases, the time and energy that a spiritual director spends on an individual directee goes beyond the scheduled session. Most spiritual directors will prepare before each session with a period of centering and review, and will spend time after the session centering and perhaps taking notes for future reference. You should expect your spiritual director to remember most of what you tell him/her about yourself, so that you will not have to waste much of your session reminding and repeating.
Additionally, many spiritual directors pray for their directees, or “hold them in the Light” (a Quaker expression) between meetings, keeping them in mind and heart. You can expect your spiritual director to get to know you well, and to care about your well-being.
The people I see in spiritual direction and dreamwork are important to me. I learn from them, respect them, treasure their gifts, and feel honored to be part of their deep journeys. I try to bring the best of myself to each session—and I know other spiritual directors do the same.
Personally, when I visit my own spiritual director/dreamworker (usually via telephone), I am always amazed by how an hour with this person—focusing on my dreams, my creative life, and my place in the world—can be so meaningful and transformative. The possibilities of this kind of work are endless, and I hope you’ll consider trying it for yourself.