Since the sixth century, Christians (and others) have benefitted from having a ‘soul friend’, or anam cara, to accompany them on their journey of faith through life. Usually people with deep wisdom or spiritual discernment, soul friends (often known in the modern church as ‘Spiritual Directors’) are a compassionate presence, offering prayer and support and encouragement, as we listen to God’s guidance for our lives.

The links below might help you learn more about what anam cara, or Spiritual Directors, do, and whether you would like one yourself. Many dioceses now offer one- or two-year courses for people to train as Spiritual Directors (and if you’re looking for one of these, we recommend that you go directly your own diocesan website for information).

What is a Spiritual Director?

Grove Books

Grove Books must be the first stop for quality booklets on a wide variety of topics. Affordably priced at £3.95, they are informative, with comprehensive bibliographies. Especially relevant here are the two by Anne Long, Approaches to Spiritual Direction, and Reflective Practice for Spiritual Directors.

London Centre for Spiritual Direction (LCSD)

The London Centre for Spiritual Direction offers a 3-year course to train as a Spiritual Director. This can be followed in situ in London, or remotely from home, where you can register for online access to their resources. Current course fees are currently around £1,300 pa. The Centre can also make the course material accessible to anyone interested in developing a training in the ministry of spiritual direction. For further information, email the Director, Julie Dunstan, at


Guidelines for Spiritual Direction

The Retreat Association website has recently published a useful set of Guidelines to encourage good practice for Spiritual Directors across the church.


How to find a Spiritual Director

The national SPIDIR network is a good place to start finding a Spiritual Director, and to find out more about the practice of Spiritual Direction. Similarly, the Retreat Association website also contains some clear information about spiritual direction, and can offer guidance in finding a suitable spiritual director.

Peterborough Diocese has produced a number of clear, but informative, leaflets to introduce Spiritual Direction to a wider audience. ‘What is Spiritual Direction?‘ talks about the nature of the ‘confidential relationship which creates the space for discerning the presence of God in life’s experiences, and for increasing our awareness of how to live out of that Presence’. ‘Finding a Spiritual Director‘ prompts some prayerful thinking about both the kind of person who would be suitable to accompany you on your journey of prayer, and the nature of the relationship that you are seeking.

This link (from the Diocese of Hereford) also provides a good introduction to finding a Spiritual Director, with an easy-to-read leaflet that would make a good basis for any Spiritual Direction Service.