Making a Living as a Spiritual Companion I

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This webinar series presented 7 spiritual directors (and one business expert) who shared their recipes for turning spiritual companionship into a financially sustainable career. This is for all spiritual companions – and those training – who want to follow their calling AND pay the rent.

This webinar is also included in the bundle "Making a Living as a Spiritual Director Anthology"

NOTE: This is a recording of the live webinar that has already been held. Each session lasted for about one (1) hour and there were four (4) sessions. We are delighted to announce our 4-part webinar series, entitled “Making a Living as a Spiritual Director” recordings are now available. Right now, across the USA and in nations around the globe, spiritual directors/companions are hanging their shingles, getting jobs with educational, religious and health care organizations and blending services in innovative ways to follow a deep, heart-felt calling AND pay the rent. This webinar series presents 7 spiritual directors (and one business expert) who shared their recipes for turning spiritual companionship into a financially sustainable career. We’ll grant you that it’s not easy to make a living as a spiritual companion. But our presenters show that it’s definitely possible. If you are a student of spiritual direction – or you already work in a listening and caring profession – this webinar series is for you. Note: Key elements of The Practicum Institute, offered at the SDI Conference Seeking Connection 2018, have been included in this webinar series. But here we go even deeper – with new material and new presenters and fresh insights. A PDF workbook is included.


Session 1 “Discernment is the Key” Sarah Cledwyn and Jocelyn Burkhart. Both these women have carved out multiple-function stand-alone practices. They feature healing, retreats, supervision and coaching as well as their main focus on spiritual direction. These practices reflect who they are and how they are called to serve. Both are passionate about the importance of discernment. They will be sharing how spirit can guide financial sustainability. Session 2 “Finding Your Niche” – Lisa Van Allen & Cristin Smith. Spiritual entrepreneurs know marketing is not a bad word – it just means getting the word out to people who can benefit from your listening care. Lisa has innovated by creating a business coaching/spiritual direction practice as well as developing a practice offering spiritual direction to people suffering from chronic pain and sleep problems. Cristin has started an upmarket wellness clinic in San Diego and has hired 3 part-time SDs to serve her clientele as well as herself. Both speak eloquently about how you can find your niche by using the same skill you use in spiritual companionship: listening. Session 3 “Building a Practice” Anil Singh-Molares and Teresa Blythe. Anil has significant management, marketing, and entrepreneurial experience and his built a spiritual direction practice from scratch. Anil and Teresa will describe the steps they took to build a structure to support success. (Teresa diversified – teaching in formation programs as well as offering group and individual spiritual direction work. Anil marketed his practice combining word-of-mouth with outreach to his existing networks.) Session 4 “Toolkit for Working Spiritual Directors” – Rev. Ineda Adesanya and Rory Briski. This final session offers the nuts and bolts of finding financial sustainability. A long-time, entrepreneur, author and executive, Rory has deep knowledge of what it takes to make any business successful. Rev. Adesanya is an ordained minister and has been very creative in finding multiple work roles in the field of spiritual direction and blending them with her own private practice. The goal of this session is to give webinar participants an actionable set of tools to help them establish a viable spiritual direction practice. Some of the topics to be covered include: the art (and benefits) of blending different roles, finding new work opportunities, marketing by meeting the needs of your community, legal issues, taxes and tax deductions, record-keeping, typical costs in setting up a practice, insurance, location options, and sales (like marketing, it’s really a good word – it just means making it easy for potential directees to say yes to finding their own spiritual paths with your companionship.)

Additional Information:

Each webinar will last one hour. CEU credits are available for all those who participate. (See below) Who may join the webinar? Everyone is invited to participate in SDI Webinars. Are CEUs available? After participants complete full engagement with all webinar sessions, SDI will provide a certificate of completion for self-reporting to agencies continuing education units (CEUs).


Session 1 – Discernment is the Key Sarah Cledwyn offers spiritual direction services to those seeking to be in closer alignment to Source. In private practice for 6 years, she made the leap to full time self-employment two years ago and supports her family solely from her practice as this work unfolds and grows. Sarah holds a Master of Arts in Theology and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from St. Catherine University. Named a 2014 New Contemplative by SDI, she provides spiritual direction to individuals and groups. Sarah is also trained in energy healing and focusing, which she uses in her spiritual direction work to provide a wholistic and embodied sanctuary experience. Sarah is an astute student of spiritual transformation and opens the space for movement into greater Love in service of all life. In support of her spiritual direction work, Sarah also leads retreats, speaks and preaches. Jocelyn Burkhart helps clients discover authentic and inspired pathways forward, and take confident, courageous, and effective action. A spiritual director with a background in yoga, she focuses on supporting coaches, healers, leaders, teachers, and guides to deepen their own self awareness, expand their practice, and navigate the human/spiritual journey with intention, ease, and grace. She supports herself solely through this work – as well as working with groups, in retreats and in Wilderness Vision Quest Facilitation. Jocelyn lives in Ontario, Canada. “My gift is to create exceptionally safe spaces for self inquiry, and ask powerful and provocative questions that reveal previously hidden areas for growth and development. My presence is spacious, nurturing, and transformative. Whether in life, business, or leadership, when there is something to integrate or create, I show up as a compassionate, empowering, and supportive guide.” Session 2 – Finding Your Niche Dr. Lisa Van Allen, Phd, CET, PCC is a clinical psychologist, executive coach and spiritual director with nearly 30 years in private practice. As a business coach, Dr. Lisa’s deepest desire is to support individuals and companies in creating strategies that are aligned with personal and spiritual values. Her clients come from a diversity of spiritual paths, and include entrepreneurs, executives, and particularly people facing painful change. She is the author of the award-winning, Your Belief Quotient, and the soon to be published book, The Promise of Pain. Dr. Lisa is an experienced speaker, using humor and inspiration to drive home life-changing truths. Her deep Christian faith and contemplative practice have supported Lisa through life’s challenges, including the development of CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). Living with chronic pain has taught Lisa the incredible value of a Sabbatical lifestyle with room for creative outlets and space for contemplation. After originally studying spiritual direction at Mercy Center in Burlingame in the mid-90’s, Lisa is currently re-certifying through Sustainable Faith School of Spiritual Direction. She frequently teaches at Orchard Hill Church, located in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she lives with her husband Duke and their Shih-chon pup Daphne. Cristin Smith is a social entrepreneur, spiritual director and spatial designer. She started her career in the financial and insurance services industry right after graduating from high school. After having excelled as a top producer, manager, and the V.P. of Sales & Marketing for other firms, Cristin and her business partner started their own agency. Cristin’s passion for growth and transformation also lead her into community development and the non-profit sector. After years of community work and running her own business she relocated to Tijuana for a six-month sabbatical. A health crisis emerged during that time leading Cristin to seek out holistic health care practitioners, non-toxic products, therapeutic practices and healing places. This grew into the social enterprise she runs today, Saffron & Sage. As Saffron & Sage was unfolding, Cristin began her journey to become a spiritual director with Loyola Marymount University. Cristin now serves not only as the Strategy Director but as a spiritual director holding space for individuals to explore their sacred pilgrimage while cultivating discernment and incorporating other ancient practices into their lives like solitude and meditation. Session 3 – Building a Practice Anil Singh-Molares is the Executive Director of SDI as well as a practicing spiritual director/companion and motivational speaker. He is a veteran of numerous interfaith and interspiritual efforts over the years, including Seeds of Compassion in Seattle in 2008, where he was one of the chairs, and as founder and executive director of the Compassionate Action Network. He has worked closely with noted religious author Karen Armstrong in a variety of capacities and has a Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard University. Anil is an accomplished speaker and university lecturer and is a key contributor for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. In a previous life, he was also an executive at Microsoft, where he successfully grew international groups and divisions and provided leadership to multi-cultural teams around the world. Teresa Blythe is a spiritual director, educator and author. After a career as a radio news journalist, she headed for seminary, graduating from San Francisco Theological Seminary (M.Div. and Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction) in 2000. Since then, Teresa has been working as a spiritual director for individuals and groups, serving as a discernment facilitator, leading workshops and keynoting conferences on various aspects of contemplative Christian spirituality. Since moving to Phoenix, Arizona, USA, she founded the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction, housed at First UCC church in downtown Phoenix. She also works as the Director of the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction. She spent 10 years working as a vocational discernment facilitator with young adult mission volunteers for the Presbyterian Church (USA) nationally and for the Tucson Borderlands. Her newest book is Spiritual Direction 101: The Basics of Spiritual Guidance from Apocryphile Press. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC) specializing in spiritual direction, her ministry is dedicated to always being open and affirming to LGBTQ persons. Session 4 – Toolkit for Working Spiritual Directors The Reverend Ineda P. Adesanya is an ordained American Baptist minister and spiritual director. Rev. Adesanya received both her Master of Divinity and Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. She earned a Master of Arts in Religion and Psychology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California where she is currently earning a PhD. Rev. Adesanya holds a BA in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and worked as a land-use planner, facilities professional, and construction industry executive for 25 years. As Minister of Spiritual Life for the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, Rev. Adesanya provides individual and small group spiritual direction, leads contemplative retreats, and teaches seminars. Rev. Adesanya is a charter member of the Executive Board of the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, Ltd. This is a professional network of more than 100 international spiritual directors of color. Rev. Adesanya extends her practice part-time in two ways: a) as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director for the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary; and b) by providing discernment coaching with prospective students for The Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley. She is founder and proprietor of WJoy – A Spiritual Care Ministry providing spiritual direction and other forms of spiritual care for faith-based institutions, clergy and lay members of the community at-large. Rev. Adesanya believes that spirituality and justice go hand-in-hand and encourages all people to provide and advocate for those who are oppressed and marginalized. Rory Briski is a seasoned executive with over 30 years of experience in management and consulting and brings a wealth of international expertise with key leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, Operations, Engineering and Executive Management. In addition to his work as Chief Operating Officer at SDI, he also enjoys the diversity and mental stimulation of running three other companies: Briski Consulting (aerospace, high-tech and business consulting), Neptune Industries (product hardware and software development) & Spiral Journey (Book Publishing (paperbacks and e-books). Rory is a bestselling author with three of his five books on best seller lists in the top 20. Rory is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer, and his perspectives have been featured at numerous international conferences, and in newspapers, journals, magazines, and on radio and television news reports, including: ABC, NBC, CBS, NWCN, KKNW, CJAD, The Bellevue Business Journal, The Seattle Times, The Globe & Mail, and others. Learning Objectives The aim of this series of webinars is to give spiritual directors insight into how they can follow their calling to be a spiritual companion AND pay the rent. We seek to support each participant as they strive to make a living as a spiritual direction. We will outline key steps and practical considerations such as – discernment, finding a niche, building a practice and the community to support that practice and developing a toolkit for success. As in all our webinars, there will be space for contemplation. We also hope to encourage all participants to participate in our forum for working spiritual directors called “Making a Living as a Spiritual Director.”


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