Certificate in Spiritual Direction

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Our primary motive for becoming a spiritual companion should be the love of others and desire to help them grow into the full measure of holiness and wholeness that is their eternal destiny. David G. Benner, Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship

The Certificate in Spiritual Direction (CSD) program is designed for individuals who discern a call to the ministry of Spiritual Direction

Grounded in the tradition of Christian Spirituality, the curriculum includes four one-week long residencies on campus, online components, individual reading and written reflections, and a supervised practicum in the art of spiritual direction. Organized on the cohort model, the certificate is intended to be completed in two and half years.

Areas of focus that weave through the formation program include contemplation and deep listening, awareness of self and the holy spirit, discernment, somatic integration, spiritual practices and self-reflection, supervision and ethics.

Admission Requirements and Application Information

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Applicants to the Certificate in Spiritual Direction (CSD) program should have completed a minimum of one year receiving spiritual direction with a trained spiritual director and agree to continue in spiritual direction during CSD studies.

Applicants should be able: to articulate an understanding of spiritual guidance and discernment of call to the ministry of spiritual direction; narrate their faith journey and current spiritual practices; exhibit maturity and relationship to a faith community. Two letters of reference are required.

Computer and internet access are needed to use the seminary’s online learning platform and complete the distance components of the course work. Participants will not be required to be online at a specific time.  Online segments are self-paced.


Course of Study


Residency IV (Final residency for Cohort III)

Spiritual Direction, Discerned Action and Social Transformation

November 13-18, 2022
With: Jim Dant/Leadership Team


Cohort IV

Residency I

Spiritual Direction in Context

November 5-10, 2023

With: CeCe Balboni/ Leadership Team


Residency II

Incarnation: Theology, Tradition and Practice of Spiritual Direction

April 21-26, 2024

With: Jim Dant/ Leadership Team


Residency III

Discernment in Spiritual Direction

Fall 2024

With: Julie Johnson/ Leadership Team


Residency IV

Spiritual Direction, Discerned Action, and Social Transformation

Spring 2025

With: Jim Dant/ Leadership Team



Supervised Practice in the Art of Spiritual Direction

Supervision is a spiritual practice as well as an ethical commitment on the part of all spiritual directors. We offer a well-developed supervision process to facilitate formation and learning.

This process is learned during the residencies through practical training in learning labs facilitated by leadership team members. Starting after the second residency, the framework is then utilized at home for monthly meetings with a trained field supervisor. Eighteen supervision sessions are required for completion of the CSD. A list of supervisors will be provided. Fees for field supervision ($50-100 per hour long-session) are the responsibility of the student.


Certificate of Completion

Upon completion of the requirements of this program a certificate of completion will be awarded.

The certificate will attest to completion of this formation and training program to develop the gifts and sensibilities of spiritual directors and support their callings to this ministry.


Program Fees

The cost of each residency is $1500, which includes several meals and residency-related course components.  Housing is available for an additional fee.  Fees may be adjusted on an annual basis. Fees for field supervision ($50-100 per hour-long session) are the responsibility of the student.


Certificate in Spiritual Direction Leadership

A team of leaders provide content and feedback in plenary sessions, model spiritual practices and spiritual direction, facilitate afternoon learning labs, mentor participants, and share unique gifts throughout the program. The leadership team includes:

CeCe Balboni, MAT, EdS is a  psychotherapist and spiritual director at the Emmanuel Center for Pastoral Counseling at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal in Atlanta. CeCe studied Spiritual Direction at the Shalem Institute in Washington, DC, where she later served on the board and faculty. A life-long learner, she is a graduate of the University of South Florida (BA psychology and religious studies), Emory University (MAT), and Georgia State University (EdS Counseling). In teaching, she uses poetry, narrative and the wisdom of the ancients to support contemplative listening, practice and living. In addition to her identity as an Episcopalian, she has been influenced by the monk, Thomas Merton, the author, Evelyn Underhill, the psychiatrist and spiritual director Gerald May, and many Buddhist teachers and authors. Cece’s church life has been rich in teaching youth and leading them on pilgrimage, teaching women and building a community of refuge for them, and in teaching in larger circles on topics in psychology and spirituality. As a therapist, spiritual director, and teacher, CeCe deeply trusts the presence of the real guide, the Holy Spirit. Her deep joys are the liturgies of the church and the wider world in the garden, the ocean and the mountains. CeCe has two adult children and she is the delighted grandmother of a musical sixteen-year-old grandson.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Dant currently serves as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Greenville, SC.  A well-respected conference and retreat leader, Jim has also taught courses at Mercer University and McAfee School of Theology and for Certificate in Spiritual Formation program at Columbia Theological Seminary,.  He is the author of several books, most recently, This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for Lgbtq Christians. Jim is a graduate of Georgia State University, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Columbia Theological Seminary. He received certifications in Spiritual Direction and Ignatian Retreat direction from the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. Jim enjoys running triathlons, studying Hebrew, and classical guitar.

The Rev. Liz Forney serves as a Chaplain for the Hospice of the Piedmont focuses on pastoral care and Stephen Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, VA. Liz serves as an instructor and practice group facilitator in the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program at Columbia Seminary. She is the co-author with Norvene Vest of, What is your Practice: Lifelong Growth in the Spirit. Liz earned her BA from Franklin and Marshall and her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. She also received a Certificate in Individual Spiritual Guidance from the Shalem Institute, Washington, DC, and a Certificate in Spiritual Formation from Columbia Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Dr. Julie Johnson founded HolyCreek Ministries where she serves as Spiritual Director, Congregational Consultant and Retreat Leader. She also serves as spiritual director at Samaritan Counseling Center at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA. Julie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Religion at Purdue University, her Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, her Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary and her Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary.  Julie teaches the Discernment in Spiritual Direction and is a practice group supervisor in the CSD. Julie’s hobbies include friendship, travel, photography, poetry and outdoor activities. http://holycreek.org/

The Rev. Dr. Deedra Rich is a teacher, spiritual director, retreat leader and supervisor for spiritual directors. She has worked with the Spirituality Program at Columbia for over 10 years serving in a variety of capacities – facilitator, instructor, program coordinator, former director, and practicum adviser. She serves as an instructor and spiritual direction supervisor in the Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Deedra received her M.Div. from Candler School of Theology and her Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary and is ordained through the Baptist tradition. She received training in Spiritual Direction through Sursum Corda. Deedra has served both Baptist (CBF) and Presbyterian (PC USA) churches. Her current interest and area of study is integrating Benedictine Spirituality, specifically their spiritual practices and intentional rhythm of life, into one’s everyday life and spiritual journey. She also enjoys practicing centering prayer, yoga, gardening, and hiking. She lives in Atlanta with her two young daughters and her husband, Matt.

The Rev. Mary Anona Stoops has an active practice of spiritual direction and supervision of spiritual directors and is delighted to serve as part of the leadership team for the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program and the Certificate in Older Adult Ministries Programs at Columbia Theological Seminary. Mary Anona is ordained in the PC(USA) and has served congregations in Australia, New York, Tennessee and Nebraska and currently serves as Pastor for Adult Spiritual Formation at North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA.  Mary Anona earned her M.Div. from Princeton Theological  Seminary and formation in Spiritual Direction through the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. Mary Anona loves exploring and adventure and is convinced that the greatest adventure of all is the journey into the inner landscape of the soul.

Debra Weir, MA, DASD is the Associate Director for Spirituality and Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary. She is a spiritual director, supervisor for spiritual directors, and retreat leader. Informing her sensibilities are her avocations in health and expressive arts and her deep roots in Asia where she and her family lived for ten years. She received degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of California at Berkeley. She holds the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary, has completed Together in the Mystery Supervision Training for Spiritual Directors and co-led the training. She is a ruling elder in the PCUSA. Debra enjoys travel and pilgrimage, expansive spaces in the great out-doors, good food, cooking and simple gardening.


For more information, please email Sharon Junn (mail to junns@ctsnet.edu)  Associate Director, Spirituality and Lifelong Learning.