What is Spiritual Counseling?

The tree pictured here is an American Linden tree. It’s one of those trees with a very long, tall trunk and its only branches are way up at the top. If you look up at this particular tree’s “cloud-like top” after awhile, you begin to be able to decipher all the individual branches. The branches are so mangled together – one branch bumping into another. An elaborate maze of confusion. I imagine that if one of those branches could talk, it would say to the other branches, “Hey, buddy! Get outta my way!” Not unlike what one hears on the streets of New York City.

But, as you consider the growth of the branches, it becomes clear why the branches had grown that way. They had to. The leaves needed light, and the branches grew in such a way as to give the leaves what they needed. Aren’t we all doing that? Even now. Trying to point ourselves to the light.  We all have that innate drive.

That's the perspective I start with in spiritual counseling.  While you work within old ways of being that are not serving you, you bump up against obstacles. Some obstacles are external and others are things within yourself. Regardless, you are always/already growing.  Spiritual counseling is a way to keep you pointed toward the light.

As a society, the old ways we have been approaching life are no longer serving us. If you are like me, you find the rigid reductions of “theology” to not be big enough for the ways the Divine shows up in the world. Yet, the ungrounded versions of the New Age movement are also not sufficient. We need a depth of spirituality that binds us vertically with the Divine and binds us horizontally with one another — and binds us with the “all of creation” in between. In other words, on a macro level, there is a branch in the way. So what is the role of spiritual counseling on the micro and macro levels?

Spiritual counseling starts by not telling clients how to grow or which direction to grow or how far they should grow. Rather, we sit with the divine children of God who belong in the nourishment of the light. And if they are in pain, we don’t prematurely ease their pain. We simply sit with them, letting them know we are not scared of their pain.

As we sit with people in their evolutions, I am noticing a trend for the 21st century. Namely, so many of us are desperately searching for authenticity. In this age of social media, where we all curate our identities online and in social media, and only share certain aspects of ourselves that we have decided are the “me” that is worthy to put into the world. And we are told this is “staying connected.” Yet there is a real hunger and longing for authentic connection. 

Spiritual counseling offers the gift of authenticity through learning to sit with clients who are struggling, keeping our hearts connected even as they are breaking, and sitting in a profound not knowing.

The branch is connected to the tree for a reason. You get a bunch of mangled branches together, and somehow, when you look up, it is beautiful. Spiritual counseling is a modality that invites you to stay connected.  It is truly a transformative spiritual act.