Most spiritual directors adhere to a Code of Ethics, which is entirely voluntary and not regulated by the state. One of the ways we hold ourselves accountable to God and our directees is by receiving regular supervision.
Supervision can be provided by an trained supervisor or by a peer group of other spiritual directors. Spiritual directors take to supervision a question or concern related to a specific spiritual direction session or to their practice of spiritual direction in general. Because our Code of Ethics also requires strict confidentiality for directees, no names or clear identifying characteristics of directees are shared in supervision sessions.
Generally, the following types of situations are taken to supervision:
1) The spiritual director is concerned that he is somehow “hooked” emotionally either by the directee or by a topic that arose in a session. Spiritual directors must be able to respond in freedom to the Spirit of God, not be working out their own issues at the expense of the directee. Therefore, he decides to consider this concern in supervision.
2) The spiritual director feels something in the session may be an invitation from God for her. However, she needs to stay focused on the directee’s relationship with God during the session and save a more thoughtful exploration of her own life with God for supervision.
3) The spiritual director is blown away by the power, love, and grace of God active in a spiritual direction session. Because of confidentiality constraints, he has no one with whom to share this testimony to God’s goodness. However, he can take this story to supervision to be celebrated and savored together.
4) The spiritual director needs technical help or just desires to keep improving her spiritual direction skills. Unsure how to handle a referral to a counselor or how to report a potential case of abuse, she can consult a supervisor or peer supervision group.
Because I have found supervision to be extremely helpful, I make use of both a trained supervisor and a peer supervision group. I will also complete my training as a supervisor through Together in the Mystery (San Francisco Seminary’s supervision training program) in February of 2019.