Spiritual Direction Specialization

Notice God’s Movement

& be attuned to others' emotions

A seminary student listens intently to another individual

Are you someone who notices God’s movements, who is sought out as a listening companion, and is attune to others? If so, a spiritual direction specialization is the ideal path for you.

Counselors focus on human relationship problems or mental health challenges. Spiritual directors focus on a person's spiritual relationship with God and with one's identity as a child loved and called by God.

Spiritual direction, sometimes called “the listening tradition,” is the art of helping another person see God in his or her life. Like counselors, spiritual directors work with clients in on-on-one sessions and focus on listening well and asking the right questions.

The spiritual direction specialization is offered with the following programs:

Pursue this specialization if ...

  • You are a professional in another field who wants to use spiritual direction skills to help others
  • You are a pastor or a student who has the wisdom that comes with years of watching God at work
  • You want to serve through spiritual retreats or in formation ministries in a church
  • You are interested in supporting others individually or in small groups in their spiritual development
  • You are known for attending to others in crisis or are considered wise by their peers

Program Format

You will spend two semesters cultivating self-awareness through the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and contemplative prayer, then learn frameworks for spiritual development as well as listening and questioning skills.

In addition, you’ll study the ethics of spiritual direction, including when to report a client or refer someone to a therapist, and will partner with experienced spiritual directors to develop their skills in practice.

Specialization Courses (14 hours)

SFAD 551 Awareness and Identity I
SFAD 552 Awareness and Identity II
SFAD 555 Seminar in Spiritual Formation & Discipleship I
SFAD 565 Seminar in Spiritual Formation & Discipleship II
SFAD 571 Becoming a Spiritual Director I (apprenticeship)
SFAD 572 Becoming a Spiritual Director II (apprenticeship)

Note: If you are pursuing a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation, SFAD 555 and SFAD 565 are omitted.

Spiritual Direction Certification

Portland Seminary also offers a certification program in spiritual direction for those who hold a master's degree from an ATS-accredited seminary or school.


Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons, MA

Admissions Counselor, Seminary