Contemplative Spiritual Direction

Certificate Program

Welcome to the Certificate in Contemplative Spiritual Direction (CSD) program at Columbia Theological Seminary, where we delve deep into Christian mystical tradition and contemplative spirituality, offering a transformative pilgrimage towards awakening.

Spiritual Direction, also known as spiritual guidance or holy listening, is a sacred companionship between a person seeking spiritual guidance and a trained individual grounded in God who is Love.  

Our program, guided by the cohort model, begins with immersive experiences in contemplative spiritual practices, nurturing essential qualities for spiritual directors. Throughout our program, we emphasize supervised practicum and discernment in spiritual direction, facilitating a deeper understanding of diverse contexts and self-awareness. Integrating in-person and online components, our hybrid format enables participants to complete the program within two years. At the heart of our program are core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, guiding us in creating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all. 

I look at God. I look at you, and I keep looking at God. 
                                                                            -Julian of Norwich, The Path of Prayer 

Certificate in Contemplative Spiritual Direction Features

“My need to discover more about the calling I feel to spiritual direction was affirmed. My persona need for a safe, small support group was met. Spiritually, this experience was a milestone in my journey. ”

— ~Listening Heart, CSD Residency Participant

Admission Requirements

Program Overview

Phase I 

Listening Heart:  Contemplative Orientation and Sensibilities 

The art of Spiritual Direction is intrinsically anchored in receptivity to the Spirit. This first phase of the program is designed to guide participants in attuning to their inner self and to the movement of the Divine.  Participants will experience the profound implications of contemplative listening as a sacred gift. Throughout this phase, you will learn to experience daily life as prayer with a goal of living as a contemplative heart.   

Courses & Topics 

Five-day Centering Prayer Retreat (recommended before Phase 2, required to complete before the end of the program) 

Phase II

Awakening Heart: Fundamentals of Spiritual Direction

Five-day residency during the fourth week of July

Awakening Heart delves deeper into the fundamentals of spiritual direction. Participants will build upon their contemplative orientation and sensibilities to learn the theory and practice of spiritual direction. They will gain practical knowledge, including how to conduct initial meetings with directees, foster director-direct relationships, and maintain professional ethics. This residency includes experiential learning in the classroom, including real plays and small group practices led by experienced spiritual directors.

Courses & Topics

Awakening Heart: Awakening to our Essence

Four-weekly sessions in August

The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram

Participants will use the Enneagram, the ancient wisdom, to explore the connection between the patterns of their Enneagram type interfering with spiritual deepening and development. There will be opportunities to sit with and listen to others, utilizing guiding questions that peel back these patterns and invite the radiant essence within our own selves.


***Following Awakening Heart, participants will give spiritual direction to two directees.

Phase III

Nurturing Heart: Spiritual Direction in Contexts

Five Monthly Sessions from January-May

Nurturing Heart focuses on the application of spiritual direction in diverse contexts to meet the unique needs of varied individuals and communities. from various contexts, sing spiritual direction to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Through a better understanding of the myriad layers that shape personal narratives, lenses, and barriers, participants will offer spiritual direction as compassionate practice envisioning diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This includes praxis-driven lectures and group practices led by experienced spiritual directors.

Courses & Topics


Program Fees

Listening Heart: $1900 (includes room and meals for retreat) Upon acceptance, you will be given a promo code for discounted course registration.

Awakening Heart: $2250(includes the fee for practicum)

Nurturing Heart: $2250 (includes the fee for practicum)

The total cost of the program is $6400, comprising the course fee of $4500 (including meals and housing for retreat) and the practicum fee of $1900. The program fee covers all online modules, course materials, meals during the residency, and the practicum fee. Housing for Awakening Heart is available for an additional fee.

Program Completion and Certification

The two certificates will be awarded upon completing the three phases of the coursework, practicum, and required reading and writing assignments.

The Certificate in Contemplative Spiritual Formation, with a concentration in Contemplative Living, recognizes their comprehensive training and the depth of their spiritual formation.

The Certificate in Contemplative Spiritual Direction attests to the completion of this formation and training program to develop the gifts and sensibilities of spiritual directors and support their callings to this ministry.

Participants can complete the first phase of Cohort V in July 2024 or July 2025. Phase II is scheduled for July 20-24, 2026, and Phase III will run from January to May 2026 as monthly sessions. For more details, click Program Handbook below.

Ready to apply? Click the Program Application button below.

“The program has provided a beautiful community in which to live more deeply into a contemplative life while learning the art of spiritual direction. A real gift!”

— Listening Heart, CSD Residency Participant