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Spiritual Direction Certification
18 Month Training Program

A foundational conviction of The Center for Non-Religious Spirituality is that spirituality is universally relevant and significant for individual and collective well-being, regardless of one's religious, spiritual, philosophical or humanist beliefs. A growing number of people today have spiritual interests but reject traditional organized religion and belief-systems as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. There are also those who seek support and counsel as a result of suffering spiritual abuse or being damaged through their involvement in fundamentalist and toxic religion. The CNRS Spiritual Direction Training Course, trains, equips and certifies men and women in offering spiritual direction in this space of non-religious spirituality. You can read more about the role of the spiritual director in this article I recently wrote. 

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FALL 2023 Cohort Start Soon

Three Six-month Modules



Building a Spiritual Direction Foundation



Skills and Tools for
Non-Religious Spiritual Direction



Building a Spiritual Direction Practice

More Details

How many assignments are there? What is the committment that is expected? 

How has the program been designed for remote, adult learners? 

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Module 1 - Building a Spiritual Director Foundation

  • Need and purpose of Spiritual Direction

  • What Spiritual Direction is and isn't

  • The space of non-religious spirituality

  • Spiritual Direction and Religious Trauma

  • Types of Non-Religious Spiritual Direction (NRSD)

  • Spiritual Direction in a social media climate

  • Common Spiritual Direction methodologies

  • Ethics and responsibilities of a Spiritual Director

  • Laying the groundwork for your course project 

Module 2 - Skills and Tools For NRSD
  • Non-Religious Spirituality Frameworks 

    • Eastern Spirituality as NRSD

    • Wisdom Traditions​ as NRSD

    • The Sciences as NRSD 

    • Philosophy as NRSD

    • Indigenous spirituality as NRSD

    • Earth-Based spirituality as NRSD

    • Psychology as NRSD

    • The arts as NRSD

    • Body work as NRSD

    • Process thinking as NRSD

    • Stoicism as NRSD

    • Feminist theology as NRSD

    • Direct experience as NRSD

    • Critical thinking as NRSD

    • Atheism/Secular Outlook as NRSD

    • Dream work as NRSD

  • NRSD Considerations and Religious Trauma

    • Dynamics of Religious Trauma Syndrome​

    • Spectrum of spiritual abuse and toxic religious experience

    • Healing and recovery process from religious trauma

    • Co-creating a deconstruction process

  • Skills in Non-Religious Spiritual Direction

    • NRSD as "listening"

    • NRSD as "reflective listening"

    • NSRD as "offering"

    • NRSD as "inviting"​​

    • NRSD as "companioning"

    • NRSD as "hospitality"

    • NRSD as "deconstruction"

    • NRSD as "ritual"

    • NRSD as "somatic movement"

    • NRSD as "journaling"

    • NRSD as "self-expression"

    • NRSD as "art"



Module 3 - Building a Spiritual Direction Practice 
  • Creating your unique spiritual direction practice

    • Individual and Group Spiritual Direction​

    • Facilitating a Spiritual Direction meeting 

    • The business side of a spiritual direction practice

    •  Website and social media considerations

    • Ethics and responsibilities of a spiritual direction practice

    • Work/life balance as a Spiritual Director

    • Spiritual Direction: Special Considerations

    •  Ongoing spiritual/professional development for Spiritual Directors​

    • Maintaining a Mentor Relationship

    • Dealing with transference and countertransference 

    • Facilitating therapeutic referrals as a Spiritual Director

    • Additional Resources



Fall 2023 Cohort
Program Fees Structure

Spiritual Direction Certification 18 month program total cost is $3600. 

$1200 per Module

Enrollment closes October 20, 2023

Module One will begin in late October, 2023

Installment payment plan available through a third party processor.  

Choose Klarna on the payment processing page.

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What to expect in each module

  • Training provided by Jim Palmer

  • Special presentations given by "experts" in related fields

  • Virtual cohort meetings every two weeks - schedule based on cohort decision

  • Reading 3-4 books and related assignments

  • Completion of verbatims and NRSD role play

  • Watching 1-2 videos and discussing it with your cohort partner

  • Virtual video meetings 1on1 with Jim

  • One virtual intensive weekend at the end of each module

  • Timeline progress of course project 

  • Preparing and delivering a topical presentation with your cohort partner (during the intensive weekend)

  • Fulfilling your assigned role as Resource Curator, Daily Meditation Composer or Cohort Coffee/Tea Klatch Coordinator


Who is this CNRS Spiritual Direction Training Course For?

Our personal and spiritual growth and development as human beings and spiritual directors is a lifetime journey.


The CNRS SD Training Course is designed to aid in equipping you to offer spiritual direction for those who want to cultivate a meaningful spirituality outside the framework of traditional religion.

The CNRS SD Training Course falls into a few different categories:


Adult learning/education (Adult Learner) 

Adult learning can be described as, "Adults engaging in systematic and sustained self-educating activities in order to gain new forms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values."

Some common characteristics among adult learners include:

  • Works full time (35 hours or more per week) while enrolled

  • Has dependents other than a spouse (usually children, but sometimes others)

  • Is a single parent (either not married or married but separated and has dependents)

In other words, it is understood with respect to the CNRS SD Training Course that you have a life, which could include elements such as work, family, parenting, health considerations, etc. As an adult education program, the CNRS SD Training Course is committed to work with each cohort member and the limitations/challenges you may have. Though it is necessary to complete the assignments and projects to fully gain the value of the course, and to receive your CNRS SD Certification, there are adjustments we can make to achieve this.

Self-Education (Self-Learner)

Generally, self-learners are individuals who choose the subject they will study, their studying material, and the studying rhythm and time. One description of self-learning is: “a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, and evaluating learning outcomes”. There is an element of "self-education" in the CNRS SD Training Course in the ways such as:

There are many assignments that allow you to choose your study/reading material, and make substitutions based on your own needs, interests, and milieu.

The content of the SD Training Course is not meant to be rules, formulas, teachings, doctrines, and beliefs instilled or poured into you, but content, principles, tools, and concepts that you engage with critical thinking, life experience, and context of your own work as a spiritual director.

Though the CNRS SD Training Course course, content and presentations are an extension and byproduct of the personal and professional training, experience and expertise of those involved, the SD Training Course does not follow a guru model. Each cohort member brings their own training, experience and expertise to the training, and is asked to make their own contributions to it.


Cohort Learning

Cohort-based learning is a collaborative learning style in which a group of individuals advance through an educational or training program together. 

For each of the 6-month modules, you will be paired up with a different cohort partner.

The benefits of cohort partners are:

  • Developing a colleague connection

  • Mutual learning, encouragement and support

  • Completion of the partner project

Every cohort partnership will be different. How you keep in contact (email, Zoom, phone, etc) and the frequency of contact, is a matter to be discussed and arranged by you and your partner.

  • Collaboration: Especially in an online environment, a cohort learning model facilitates social interaction and collaboration with your peers. This can enhance your learning experience and sense of community as you progress through an online program.

  • Support: Cohort learning connects you to the support of peers. If you need help with an assignment or want to discuss your evolving interests and goals, you can easily connect with your cohort. You can also turn to your cohort for encouragement when you need it.

  • Structure: Because you advance through a program with others, cohort learning provides structure in the form of set due dates (weekly, monthly, etc.) and discussion forums. Cohort members also keep each other accountable (and motivated) to watch presentations, complete assignments, and contribute to discussions.

  • Perspective: A cohort learning model expands your perspectives. As you engage with your cohort members, you’ll be exposed to new views, opinions, experiences, and ideas.

  • Networking: By enrolling in a cohort, you’ll meet new people from across the world. You may have similar interests, goals, and/or experiences as some of your peers. Being part of a cohort makes it easier to further network and build relationships.

  • Engagement: you'll be assigned rotating roles to actively participate. Roles include Resource CuratorDaily Meditation Composer and Cohort Coffee/Tea Klatch Coordinator


Virtual (Distance) Learning

Virtual (Distance) Learning is conducted in a virtual learning environment with electronic study content designed for self-paced or live web-conferencing online learning and collaboration. The quality of online education depends on the proper use of digital technologies. The CNRS SD Training Course content will be available in the private Community Group. The use of CNRS Online Community and Zoom will be used for presentations and group meetings/discussions.

Fall 2023 Cohort
Program Fees Structure

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Spiritual Direction Certification 18 month program total cost is $3600. 

$1200 per Module

Enrollment closes October 20, 2023

Module One will begin in late October, 2023

Installment payment plan available through a third party processor.  

Choose Klarna on the payment processing page.

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