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Spiritual Direction

at boston college


Spiritual direction is an on-going relationship between a “directee” (person seeking direction) or “retreatant” (person making a retreat) and a “director” (qualified person giving guidance) to discuss the directee’s spiritual life.  Through conversation and reflection, the directee becomes more attuned to God's Presence in their life, and can respond more fully to God in all areas of their life. 


Typically, spiritual direction is a half- to one-hour, one-on-one conversation between director and directee in some quiet, private setting.  Spiritual direction can take place either in the context of a retreat or in regular, everyday life on an ongoing basis – in which case meeting frequency is usually about once a month.  The focus of the meetings is the directee's relationship with God within all aspects of life.  The directee leads the direction of the conversation. 


The directee assumes responsibility for their life with God, working to incorporate some form of intentional reflection on their relationship with God.  This may or may not include an experience or practice of some form of prayer, understanding that “prayer” can take various forms (formal and informal, e.g.).  During the meeting, director and directee seek to enter into a prayerful atmosphere where together they can be attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the directee’s life.   


The director may listen, question, challenge, suggest, and support the directee, and may suggest methods and specific content of prayer.  Ultimately the directee must own whatever insights they uncover, or course of action they decide to take; the director is a facilitator in the process, and the directee must claim the journey. 


Director/directee relationship

Given the intimate nature of spiritual direction, the relationship and personal dynamic between the director and directee is paramount, and must be comfortable for each.  This may take a few sessions to decide on.  It is important that a directee feels free to seek out a new director if they are not ultimately comfortable with the dynamic.  

Spiritual Direction vs. Therapy/Counseling

In contrast with therapy/counseling, spiritual companioning/direction is fundamentally concerned with a person’s relationship with God:  with recognizing and responding to God in regular, ongoing, daily life as well as in the midst of specific issues of struggle or disorder.  Therapy is not necessarily or fundamentally concerned with a person’s relationship with God.  And problem solving is not the primary focus of spiritual direction, whereas it can be in therapy.  A spiritual companion may refer a retreatant to counseling if appropriate.   

Setting up Spiritual Direction at BC

There are many people at BC who are qualified spiritual directors – laymen and women, Jesuits, and men and women in other religious orders.  If you are a current BC undergraduate student interesting in just trying out, or definitely setting up, spiritual direction here at BC, contact Rick Rossi at or (617) 552-6592.