What is Spiritual Accompaniment?

Spiritual Accompaniment has been part of the Christian tradition since the days of the early Church. It is often called Spiritual Direction, although we prefer the term ‘accompaniment’ because it suggests walking alongside someone in their journey, rather than telling them what to do!

We do, however, refer to the person doing the accompanying as the ‘Director’, and the person being accompanied as the ‘Directee’. 

What happens in a session?

Spiritual Accompaniment is not about solving problems so much as exploring our relationship with God, through prayer and reflection on our experience of faith and life. 

A Spiritual Director is not there to give advice or tell you what to believe in, but rather to listen attentively and act as a ‘sounding board’ for whatever you bring to the session. 

Spiritual Accompaniment sessions usually take place every couple of months or so, depending on the circumstances of the individuals involved. It is advisable to prepare for a meeting, perhaps by making some notes about things you want share in the session.

How do I find a Spiritual Director?

There are many ways in which this might happen. For example, one might seek out a Director who is recommended by a friend or ask one’s minister or priest to suggest someone.

At St Antony’s we are able to refer someone seeking a Spiritual Director to a suitably qualified and experienced person within a network of Directors with whom we work. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you find a Spiritual Director.

When someone approaches us for help in finding a spiritual director, we ask them initially to complete a short online form, then come for a half-hour interview. This enables us to understand a little about their faith journey, their prior experience of Spiritual Accompaniment, if applicable, and what they might be looking for. We will then try to refer them to a Director appropriate to their needs. 

All the Spiritual Directors within our network have undergone formal training in this ministry, and will currently be receiving supervision in Spiritual Accompaniment.

Do I have to be Christian?

Whilst Spiritual Direction comes out of the Christian tradition – and most of our Spiritual Directors are practising Christians, representing a broad range of denominations and traditions – that doesn’t mean that everyone who has a Spiritual Director must necessarily be Christian themselves.

Many people simply want to explore spiritual questions, and may find it helpful to do that in dialogue with someone who has experience in these matters. Whether you consider yourself to be Christian or not, you are welcome to engage with the process of Spiritual Accompaniment.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge for spiritual accompaniment at St Antony’s Priory, either for the use of the meeting room, or for the provision of accompaniment itself. Spiritual accompaniment is a core part of our charitable work, and we would not wish anyone to be excluded from this ministry for financial reasons.

However, we do welcome donations, and those receiving spiritual accompaniment at the Priory are invited to make a voluntary donation to support our work. There are Gift-Aid envelopes and a donation box for this purpose just inside the front door. Further information about how to make donations in support of our work can be found here.

A useful guide regarding how much to give is to donate whatever you would normally earn for an hour’s work.

Whilst most Spiritual Directors offer accompaniment voluntarily, for some it could be part of how they earn a living and payment may be expected. Any such arrangements would be a separate matter, agreed privately between director and directee.

What We Offer

St Antony’s Priory has a well-established role as a provider of training and ongoing support for Spiritual Directors, as well as administering a referral service for people seeking a Spiritual Director, and providing rooms in which people can meet for Spiritual Direction, often also known as ‘Spiritual Accompaniment’.

Providing a place to meet

We have a number of meeting rooms at the Priory, which are ideal for spiritual accompaniment. If it is decided to use the facilities at St Antony’s, the Director will be responsible for booking the room for you to meet.

Not all spiritual accompaniment meetings take place at St Antony’s (Durham may not be a convenient location for everyone). It is up to the Director and Directee to agree their own arrangements, including where to meet and whether or not payment is expected.

Next Steps

If you would like our help in finding a Spiritual Director, or would like to find out more about what spiritual accompaniment might involve, please contact us and a member of our team, Ruth or Michael, will follow it up with you.