Care of Mind/Care of Spirit

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In spiritual direction however, the true healer, nurturer, sustainer, and liberator is the Lord, and the director and directee are seen as hopeful channels, beneficiaries, or expressions of grace for each other. This is a radical difference, and one that cannot be overemphasized. To date however, it must be acknowledged that in the actual practice of therapy, such orientations represent more the exception than the rule.

The important consideration here is that while effective psychotherapy can occur with the intent of human achievement, any spiritual direction that loses its sense of human subservience is bound to be distorted.

Holistic Care: Health Care for the Body, Mind, and Spirit

Such distortion occurs far more frequently than most of us would care to admit. The seeds of its potential are in every such thought as I have to help this person, or I must do something to make this person see things differently, or even in Together you and I will overcome this obstacle. In each of these thoughts the power of God, even that which works through us, is ignored. Of course it is often not quite so pure and perfect as this, but in authentic spiritual direction the desire and intention for such a willingness of presence is claimed by both director and directee.

This is not the case in most other kinds of relationships. In counseling, psychotherapy, physical or pastoral care, mentoring, teaching, parenting, and nearly all other helping relationships, agendas are very mixed and there is often a wide difference between the basic attitude of the helper and the one being helped.

Gerald May, MD | Spiritual Directors International

The helper may try to cultivate a prayerful, contemplative attitude but the recipient of care may be expecting something very different. In other words, even though the caregiver may desire a truly holistic and God-centered approach, the client often does not. Discernment of spirit finds no place in treatment plans. Prayer is often considered a luxury—sometimes even a distraction. A contemplative attitude would not only be misunderstood by peer review boards, but could very well violate standards of practice.

Third-party payments do not cover helping people become more loving.

These problems are not limited to health care; they exist in all our societal institutions. Even pastors of churches and chaplains in hospitals are expected to be efficient religious leaders, not true spiritual companions.

Nurses of Strong Mind, Body, and Spirit Deliver Better Care

We live in a broken world, and we are broken with it…. They see their mutual interactions as being responsible for any growth or healing that may take place. In spiritual direction however, the true healer, nurturer, sustainer, and liberator is the Lord, and the director and directee are seen as hopeful channels, beneficiaries, or expressions of grace for each other. This is a radical difference, and one that cannot be overemphasized.

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To date however, it must be acknowledged that in the actual practice of therapy, such orientations represent more the exception than the rule. The important consideration here is that while effective psychotherapy can occur with the intent of human achievement, any spiritual direction that loses its sense of human subservience is bound to be distorted. Such distortion occurs far more frequently than most of us would care to admit. The seeds of its potential are in every such thought as I have to help this person, or I must do something to make this person see things differently, or even in Together you and I will overcome this obstacle.

In each of these thoughts the power of God, even that which works through us, is ignored. Of course it is often not quite so pure and perfect as this, but in authentic spiritual direction the desire and intention for such a willingness of presence is claimed by both director and directee.


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This is not the case in most other kinds of relationships. In counseling, psychotherapy, physical or pastoral care, mentoring, teaching, parenting, and nearly all other helping relationships, agendas are very mixed and there is often a wide difference between the basic attitude of the helper and the one being helped. The helper may try to cultivate a prayerful, contemplative attitude but the recipient of care may be expecting something very different. In other words, even though the caregiver may desire a truly holistic and God-centered approach, the client often does not.

Discernment of spirit finds no place in treatment plans.

Care of Mind / Care of Spirit

Prayer is often considered a luxury—sometimes even a distraction. A contemplative attitude would not only be misunderstood by peer review boards, but could very well violate standards of practice. Third-party payments do not cover helping people become more loving. These problems are not limited to health care; they exist in all our societal institutions. Even pastors of churches and chaplains in hospitals are expected to be efficient religious leaders, not true spiritual companions.