Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls
A Guide to Christian Approaches and Practices
By: Gary W. Moon and David G. Benner

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  • A comprehensive guide to spiritual direction's tradition and practices
  • Unique: no other book provides comparable breadth and interdenominational scope
  • Offers careful analysis of spiritual and psychological approaches to soul care
  • Suitable for classroom use in spiritual formation, psychology and counseling courses

Product Details

In recent years, many Christian clergy, laity and mental health professionals have rediscovered the ancient practices of spiritual direction. Seen as a refreshing alternative to the techniques and limitations of modern psychology, such practices offer new insights for pastoral care. But many remain unclear on what spiritual direction is and whether its methods are applicable to their own clients and parishioners.

Spiritual direction is a practice of Christian soul care that is found most notably in the Catholic, Orthodox and Episcopal traditions but is also present in Wesleyan/Holiness, Pentecostal/charismatic, social justice and Reformed communities. Predating modern counseling and psychotherapy movements but sharing key principles and insights for spiritual formation, spiritual direction offers significant resources for today’s pastors, counselors, therapists, chaplains and other caregivers attuned to the work of God in people’s lives.

In this landmark volume, editors Gary W. Moon and David G. Benner, along with a team of expert contributors, provide a comprehensive survey of spiritual direction in its myriad Christian forms. Specific chapters offer careful historical perspective and contemporary analysis of how Christians from various backgrounds have practiced spiritual direction, with particular attention to each tradition’s definition of spiritual direction, the process of authentic transformation, the role of the spiritual director, indicators of mature spirituality and other aspects of the spiritual direction process. Chapters also provide psychological and clinical insight into how spiritual direction is similar to, different from and can be integrated with psychotherapy and pastoral counseling to help others experience spiritual transformation and union with God.

About the Editors

Gary W. Moon is vice president and Chair of Integration and Professor of Counseling at the Psychological Studies Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a visiting professor at Emmanuel College, Alliance Theological Seminary (Manila, Philippines) and Georgia State University, and he has also worked in clinical psychology practice for more than a decade. He has written articles and presented papers on a variety of topics for a wide array of academic journals, popular magazines, and professional seminars and conferences. His books include Homesick for Eden: Confessions About the Journey of a Soul, Servant, The Bible Ride and Falling for God.

David G. Benner is emeritus distinguished professor of psychology and spirituality at Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta, Georgia and an associate fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. A psychologist, spiritual director and retreat leader, Benner has written and edited many books including the Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling and Care of Souls. He is the founding executive editor of the journal Conversations.


Gary W. Moon and David G. Benner are respected and visionary leaders in contemporary Christian soul care. Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls is an excellent resource for those seeking to understand major traditions of spiritual direction and distinguish among psychotherapy, spiritual direction and pastoral counseling. History, wisdom, faith and compassion meet in the pages of this book.
Mark R. McMinn, Professor of Psychology, George Fox University
Is anything more needed in our present culture than spiritual direction and soul care? I think not. So I'm elated with this comprehensive guide to spiritual direction. It is both theoretical and practical. I welcome it especially for pastors, professors and persons training for ministry. Only able advocates and practitioners of spiritual direction--Dr. Benner and Dr. Moon--could have put together this remarkable resource. I commend it.
Maxie D. Dunnam, chancellor, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky
The variety of insightful authors brought together by the editors of this book offer the reader a unique and valuable perspective on the ways eight different Christian traditions understand and practice spiritual companionship, as well as elucidating the relation of this historic spiritual practice to modern pastoral counseling and psychotherapy. The book offers a distinctive contribution to the growing literature on this vital subject.
Dr. Tilden Edwards, Founder, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Bethesda, Maryland
There is a tradition of wisdom about human life and the nature of change that has been lost to many of us in the evangelical community. Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls recaptures that wisdom from multiple perspectives and makes it available to us all. This is a rich resource for pastors, counselors, small group leaders and everyone interested in change.
John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Menlo Park, California
[This book] offers a sound alternative that taps into rich theological traditions and still seeks to answer questions that the modern soul is asking . . . The book is more than a history lesson or a "how to" guide. The book defines spiritual formation and direction, analyzes today's interest in spirituality and dares church leaders to pursue Christian soul care . . . For pastors, counselors, laity, cell leaders, students and Christians seeking a deeper understanding of soul care, the pages serve as needed literature to define and train. The information can inspire more people to give, and receive, true care for today's souls.
Chris Maxwell, Campus Pastor and Spiritual Life Director, Emmanuel College
Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls encourages us to respond to the cry of the wider Christian faith community for true transformation by examining our particular traditions--not to erase the important differences among them, but to find commonalities and overarching direction. This book helps us see how soul care is understood and practiced in the larger Christian world and among related disciplines of spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, and psychotherapy.
Helen H. Cepero, director of spiritual formation, North Park Theological Seminary