Paper: Co-authoring Stories of Hope: Narrative Approaches to Spiritual Direction, by David Crawley

David Crawley (Laidlaw College, New Zealand) delivered this paper at a session of the Christian Spirituality Group during last year’s AAR conference.  The theme of the session was Perspectives on Spiritual Direction: Historical and Contemporary. Here are a couple of introductory paragraphs from David’s paper:

While spiritual direction is not therapy, various psychological and therapeutic paradigms have influenced spiritual direction training and practice in recent decades. Rogerian principles shape our approach to listening. Elements of Jungian psychology informed my training as a spiritual director, and Freudian conceptions of projection, transference, and counter-transference were applied to the dynamics of director-directee relationships. To my knowledge—admittedly a slender resource—a thoroughgoing exploration of what narrative therapeutic perspectives might offer to spiritual direction is yet to be undertaken. Helpful work has been done in the areas of pastoral and spiritual care, and some of this has relevance to spiritual direction. Sadly, it was just before I left from New Zealand that Dr Janet Ruffing’s recent book, To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative (2011), came into my possession. It touches on narrative therapy only briefly, but is likely to influence future versions of this paper.

Drawing on narrative therapeutic principles, this paper suggests ways in which spiritual directors might facilitate hope-filled conversations with the people who come to them. ‘The archaeology of hope’ is the subtitle of a text produced by my own narrative therapy tutors. As the metaphor suggests, narrative therapists enter into conversations with the conviction that even in the most dismal of circumstances there are hints of hopeful stories waiting to be unearthed and given fresh life. I begin with a brief explanation of narrative therapy and then offer a three-stage practical application of its principles to the work of spiritual direction.

Copies of the paper are available to SSCS members by contacting the moderator.

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