A primary goal of CFDM was to establish and develop relational networks of spiritual directors in regions of the western United States for purposes of ongoing supervision, evaluation, certification, referral, and continuing partnership for spiritual directors.  These relational networks are now fully independent CFDM Affiliates [See document below about “What it means to be an Affiliate of CFDM.”].  Each newly independent Affiliate will oversee the development of a network initially made up of graduates of the program. These coordinating teams will determine what is needed for ongoing training in a particular region-events, retreats, seminars, certificate programs-and calendar, sponsor, and secure leadership, facilities and budget for these events.

These CFDM Affiliates will re-affirm and implement established criteria for being part of a CFDM network-i.e. a person (1) has some training [such as the Certificate program offered from CFDM or a similar program], (2) is receiving spiritual direction, (3) is giving spiritual direction to others, (4) is involved in individual and peer supervision, and (5) is following the guidelines established by Affiliate leaders.


  1. CFDM is a Christ-centered ministry. What that means is that we will be working with Christian materials—history, spiritual practices, models of spiritual direction in the history of the Christian tradition, etc.  While our training programs are open to anyone, including those from other faith traditions, we want students to know ahead of time that we will be praying and worshiping in Christian traditions and language.  While we don’t believe we have the only answers to spiritual questions, our desire is to encourage and nurture people in the Christian faith and tradition and to provide resources of formation and direction for Christian Churches.  As to what we believe, we are guided by the earliest traditions of the Christian Church—The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed—the traditional bounds of Orthodox Christianity, and we are open to learn from the various streams of Christian spirituality—Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox.
  2. We are a relational ministry. That means that while some things will happen through long-distance learning, our training is primarily hands-on, face to face, and relational.  For example, we believe that learning the art of spiritual direction is more “caught” than “taught”—we are committed to modeling everything we teach for students, believing that what we model will finally be “caught” and woven into the fabric of one’s life as an organic living practice.
  3. We expect that those who affiliate with CFDM [currently and in the future] will be led by those who have been trained through CFDM or who have been part of CFDM training programs so they will know what it is we have done and intend to continue doing. We are committed to “best practices” of spiritual direction [see more below].   In the same way, we expect that the people doing supervision during the training program for spiritual directors will be “Certified in Supervision” either through CFDM or another reputable program such as the one given every other year at The Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA.
  4. Though we have had a Pilgrimage Director in the past—Dave Olson—and a good pilgrimage is definitely a contemplative spiritual practice, it seems best to let each region decide how it will sponsor and promote pilgrimages for people in their regions; and that these pilgrimages can be advertised and made known in other CFDM regions.
  5. Spiritual Direction training: There are enough differences in the ways the established Regions have done this training, that it is difficult to articulate a standard of competence.  Our description of the goals and purpose of the training have generally included the following:
  • To mature into deeper intimacy and friendship with the Triune God
  • To develop a theology of Christian spirituality by drawing on and integrating insights from Scripture, theology, historical traditions, psychology and related fields
  • To discover the richness of one’s own spiritual tradition, in relation to one’s spiritual formation and spiritual journey, along with the gifts and blessings of other Christian traditions—looking at these through our own lens and examining our own tradition with a critical eye
  • To learn about, and engage in, spiritual habits and practices that facilitate spiritual growth
  • To grow in balancing prayer, study and service and in developing practical wisdom based on Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience
  • To gain experience and skills in providing spiritual direction in a Christ-centered program and context
  • To participate in a creative partnership among Christian spiritual directors within a regional Network
  1. Listed below are the common denominators that should continue, even in the midst of creative experimentation.
  • The approach to the training of spiritual directors will reflect the classical contemplative tradition of spiritual direction [as contrasted to any notion of coaching, mentoring, or counseling;] and that key books about spiritual direction used in the training will reflect this classical contemplative approach.
  • A minimum of two years of training with the understanding that it actually takes many years to develop a ministry of spiritual direction.
  • During the Certificate program, it is expected that there will be a minimum of 18 8-hour days of contact, usually in six events that take place during the two years; that the faculty to student ratio will not exceed one faculty for four students; that what is taught will also be modeled sufficiently that the student can both see and understand what is being modeled/taught. For example, it is expected that each student will be involved in “real plays” throughout their training during which they will have the opportunity numerous times to assume the role of both a director, directee, and observer of the spiritual direction process.
  • Feedback will be given students for book reflections and/or quarterly reflections, along with ongoing conversation toward growth in the spiritual direction paradigm.
  • The reading for the training, and the content, will vary according to Region—but will helpfully explore ‘images of God;” uses and abuses of prayer and scripture in doing spiritual direction; sharing our own stories in a vulnerable way; preparing a spiritual autobiography in preparation for listening to another’s story; the importance of solitude and silence; the contemplative and reflective stance of the spiritual director; exploring scriptural support for the paradigm of spiritual direction; understanding of the self in process [temperament, MBTI, and/or the Enneagram—the false self or shadow side]; understanding the ‘stages of faith development’; historical models of spiritual direction [such as the Desert Fathers/Mothers of the 3rd-5th centuries, Ignatius model of spiritual direction using the Spiritual Exercises, and models from the mystics of the church]; discernment; various contemplative prayer practices flowing from the monastic model of lectio divina; developing a ‘rule of life;’ and regular ongoing self-evaluation in the context of what is being learned and put to use.


It would be good to have a yearly gathering of Directors of Regions, plus 1-2 others from each region—especially younger people in leadership—to continue to build relationships; to share best practices; to review and update this document—“What it means to be an Affiliate of CFDM”—to share, when possible, regional events, such as the LA All Shall Be Well annual conference or  supervision training as individual regions have need and might sponsor such a training—all as a way of ensuring quality of presentation and programs.  It would seem best if the various regions shared hosting of such gatherings to give everyone a chance to see and feel the environment in which CFDM is happening.  Further that while the host region would be responsible for planning and administration of the event, that they would do this in consultation with the other regions and calculate the cost [not counting transportation, which will vary] at least six months in advance to give time for the regions to make plans, decide who can go, and raise funds for the cost of attending the yearly gathering.  At each yearly gathering, a decision would be made about the hosting/location of the next yearly gathering.