ESDA’s Training Minimums

For Member Spiritual Directors

At ESDA, we understand and affirm that one’s work in the ministry of spiritual direction comes primarily out of a call and gifting by the Holy Spirit, affirmed by one’s faith community.

We have also found that pursuing training and education from a formal spiritual direction program is a wise way to confirm that calling and develop it for this special ministry.

ESDA confirms this belief by requiring all of our member spiritual directors to have successfully completed a formal spiritual direction training program.

If you have questions as to whether a particular training program exhibits the minimum characteristics below, or if you personally have other comparable experience to this kind of training, please contact us directly at to discuss the matter.

Spiritual Direction Training Program Requirements

Through reflection and research, we have determined that, for ESDA’s purposes, a formal spiritual direction training program will possess the following minimum characteristics:

  • At least a two year period of enrollment for students, with the majority of that time engaged in the educational material and training.
  • An admission application process intended to determine an applicant’s readiness and suitability to the training at that time and to the ministry overall.
  • A requirement for students to be receiving spiritual direction throughout the duration of training.
  • A program tuition fee.
  • Face-to-face encounters with instructors, either regularly over the course of the program or in intense residency periods. Additionally, instructors are available to their students on an as-needed basis.
  • Coursework which addresses a number of topics that support the ministry of spiritual direction, including but not limited to the theory and history of spiritual direction/soul care, spiritual development, prayer, use of Scripture, listening skills, discernment, etc.
  • Additional required and recommended readings that acknowledge the breadth of the spiritual direction tradition and its various styles beyond the main modality or tradition of spiritual direction focused on by the program.
  • A practicum experience where students apply the skills of spiritual direction through practice with other students and by giving direction to at least 2 different individual directees. Upon completion, a student will have given a minimum of 20 hours of individual spiritual direction.
  • Required supervision, experienced one-on-one with instructors and/or in peer groups, for a minimum of 10 hours over the course of the program.
  • An emphasis on students’ personal spiritual growth throughout the program. Through course requirements, students must regularly receive personal spiritual direction, and be encouraged to attend to their spiritual growth through such practices as prayer, journaling, spiritual disciplines, group direction, retreats, etc.
  • An intentional focus on ethical issues related to the ministry of spiritual direction, including encouraging its participants to continue their growth and education as spiritual directors beyond the program and ongoing throughout the life of their ministries.
  • An acknowledgement of successful completion of the program by granting a certificate of completion or diploma.