Interfaith Spiritual Direction Certificate Program

Helping people discover a relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human

June 2018 - June 2019

This program is designed for those who feel called to a private practice in personal, one-on-one spiritual direction, and who anticipate working with clients from a variety of faith traditions. It is also well-suited for those who intend to do group spiritual direction, and for those of other helping professions who want to add a spiritual guidance perspective to their current work (such as psychotherapists, social workers, health practitioners, ministers and chaplains). Upon successful completion of the program, participants are qualified to provide spiritual direction in the context of their choosing.

This offering is designed to inspire, nurture and educate those who are called to serve as Spiritual Directors in an Interfaith capacity in our increasingly diverse world. Our innovative course features a combination of the study of world religions, an exploration of personal spirituality, and spiritual direction skills... all in a creatively infused and experiential context.



Our Interfaith Spiritual Direction Certificate Program teaches a non-directive Interfaith approach. We do not believe in telling people how to think, what to believe, how they are supposed to feel, or what to do in any specific circumstances. We believe that the person who comes to us for direction is the expert on his or her own spiritual life, and given time and prayerful or meditative reflection, can discern what is best. Thus, we teach skills to help people discern their own deep inner wisdom and to live with a deeper sense of connection and alignment with Spirit.


The techniques and concepts taught in this program rely on there being a Divine reality or a larger Self. How each student experiences and names this sacred presence will be quite diverse. Some students will call it “God,” or “Brahman,” “Buddha Nature,” or many other names, but however it is conceived of some acknowledgement and engagement with this Divine reality is essential. Students who do not believe in any Divine reality may be able to engage if they can rest in and trust a transcendent concept of Life seeking wholeness and harmony in all things. Students who do not believe in any Divine reality whatsoever will find this a difficult and frustrating program, since much of our practice depends on a deep trust, connection, and reliance on a Divine reality. If you have concerns about this, please contact the program director to discuss whether the program is right for you.

 Areas of Study

   Spiritual Direction (SD) Skills

  • Definitions, varieties and history of SD
  • Cultivating Holy Listening
  • Directive and non-directive SD
  • Methods of Spiritual Discernment
  • SD with the Ill, Dying & Bereaved
  • Dreamwork for Guiding Non-Religious People
  • Guiding Non-Religious People
  • Group SD and Group Supervision
  • Relationship, Generational, and Sexual Issues

 World Religions

  • Native Traditions
  • Taoism
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Judaism
  • Christianity 

  The Spiritual Experience

  • God’s presence in daily life
  • Spiritual Life Stories
  • Images of the Divine & their impact upon the spiritual life
  • Faith Styles & their impact on the SD process
  • Dark Night of the Soul
  • Varieties of prayer and devotional disciplines
  • Addiction and the Longing for Transcendence
  • The archetypal spiritual journey

  Personal Development & Integration

  • Discerning one’s call
  • Rules & Ethics: Boundaries, confidentiality, and self-care
  • Generational Issues in SD
  • Sexual Issues in SD
  • Establishing a business practice of SD


To be certified as an Interfaith Spiritual Director, students are required to complete:

4 Intensive Learning Modules - 5 days each

Four intensive learning modules for 5 days, Monday through Friday, from 9am to 4:30pm each day with occasional evening classes in Berkeley, CA. Although each module is different, each offers opportunities to practice deep listening, spiritual discernment and essential spiritual direction skills. Attendance is required on all days.

30 Individual Spiritual Direction Sessions

Each student is required to have had a minimum of 3 spiritual direction sessions prior to beginning the program. In addition, during the course of studies, students are required to complete 30 sessions with an approved spiritual director. Spiritual directors must be approved by the program director.  Spiritual Directors are hired independently of the school and are compensated for their services directly by the student. To download the Course Catalog, which includes the above information, click here.

18 Spiritual Direction Practicum Hours

Students provide spiritual direction sessions to real-world clients to develop and hone their spiritual direction skills. This contextual learning gives students the opportunity to integrate learned concepts and techniques into the flow of lived experience. This is where students can test their wings and begin to grow their skills within the supportive structure of our learning community.


12 Supervision Sessions

Students meet 12 times with a qualified Spiritual Direction Supervisor to review and reflect on their practicum hours.  Supervisors must be approved by the Program Director.

Personal Spiritual Practice

Each student is required to have a personal spiritual practice to which one is committed.  The options for a personal spiritual practice are multiple and flexible. Examples include attendance at a weekly worship service, daily meditation or prayer based on a primary faith tradition, yoga, art, journaling, and so on.

Reading as assigned

Each module has between 150 and 300 pages of reading material assigned.  Reading includes some sacred texts from faith tradition such as Islam's Qur'an, Judaism's Tanach, Christianity's Bible, Buddhism's Dhammapada, and Hinduism's Bhagavad Gita.

Course Structure

In-Person instruction

Students travel to Berkeley, California, to attend intensive learning modules that focus on practical skills, spiritual direction competencies and guiding people of particular faith traditions. Although each module is different, all of them contain elements of spiritual direction, spirituality, and personal development. During each module a team of core and quest faculty guides students in an integral learning experience, incorporating theoretical, practical, and creative elements. Class content at the modules flows between didactic and experiential artistic and reflective modalities.  Information about travel is here. 

Independent study
In addition to intensive learning modules, students work independently on reading, practicum, and spiritual practices. They communicate with faculty and classmates via email and/or social media. 

Educational Approach

ChI’s curriculum has been designed to meet the growing need for inter-religious understanding as a tool for serving the diversity of our world today. Our educational approach is one of multi-modal education, always reaching for the balance of engaging the body as well as the mind and spirit, so that our students may learn to their greatest capacity, while having useful skills and tools with which to serve others.

Read on...

In addition to recognizing the varieties of faiths and culture in our student body, the curriculum is designed based on the knowledge that individuals learn and receive information in a variety of ways. Renowned educator Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, identified a variety of styles through which individuals learn.

Over our years of teaching, we have discovered what Gardner calls “multiple Intelligences,” and what we call “ways of knowing.” Some of us know the world through movement or singing; these are kinesthetic or musical learners. We may know the Divine through walking or singing—or, like the Sufi Dervishes, as we turn or dance as a form of prayer.  ChI has found that the most effective education begins in the cultural comfort zone of didactic presentation and providing foundational context, as a strong framework for study and understanding. Subsequently we build on this foundation, weaving all the elements of our program together through experiential and creative learning modalities.

This educational methodology of interweaving promotes an exciting learning environment and encourages individual ways of knowing—as well as serving as a foundation for understanding differences in the ways that others come to know themselves and their relationships to family, community, and Divinity.


John Mabry.jpg

The landscape of Interfaith may seem as foreign to you as Morocco, or Nepal. For this reason you need guides on the journey who are knowledgeable, who speak the language because they have been there and have learned from experience, or who can join you in finding the way to ask the questions that will point to the next step on the path.   Our Interfaith Spiritual Direction Faculty help to expand students’ working language of Interfaith Spiritual Direction.  They interact with the student’s unique gifts of calling and aspiration for spiritual direction in order to support the student’s attainment of the skills and competencies necessary to being a professional and successful spiritual director.


Rev. Dr. John Mabry is the Director of the Interfaith Spiritual Direction Certificate Program for ChI. He has been teaching spiritual guidance for 10 years. A United Church of Christ pastor, John pastors Grace North Church (Congregational) in Berkeley, California and teaches spiritual guidance, world religions and comparative theology at Sofia University, Santa Clara University as well as ChI. He is the author of several books on spirituality and interfaith ministry, including Growing Into God: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism; Noticing the Divine: An Introduction to Interfaith Spiritual Guidance; and Faith Styles: Ways People Believe, among many others. The landscape of interfaith may seem as foreign to you as Morocco, or Nepal. For this reason you need guides on the journey who are knowledgeable, who speak the language because they have been there and have learned from experience, or who can join you in finding the way to ask the questions that will point to the next step on the path. Our core faculty helps to expand students’ working language of Interfaith Spiritual Direction. They interact with the student’s unique gifts of calling and aspiration for spiritual direction in order to support the student’s attainment of the skills and competencies necessary for being a professional and successful spiritual director.

 Student Testimonial


Willie Ruth Harris, ChI Interfaith Spiritual Direction student, 2014-2015, Tallahassee, Florida

ChI offers you an opportunity to become more fully connected with your spiritual sense and whatever you may call your higher power, and you leave the program with tools that you can use to help you on your way. And because it is interfaith, it gives you a sense of confidence and a sense of know-how and knowledge about the direction to go, and it just connects you with a platform from where to start. It gives you a sense of home, a place to belong, because you develop new relationships with people that you can call upon that you didn’t have before, and it doesn't matter what they may call their higher power because the language is universal. I just love everybody at ChI. It is an amazing experience.

To download the Course Catalog, which includes the above information, click here.

About Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction (or spiritual guidance) is the art of companioning people on the spiritual journey. To seek to live in alignment with path and soul can be challenging, exhilarating, sometimes even heart-wrenching. A skilled Spiritual Director listens carefully, asks lots of questions, points out things he or she notices that the client may have missed, and supports the client's spiritual unfolding. More ...

Introductory Video
Course Dates

June 25-29, 2018 - Week One

August 6-10, 2018 - Week Two

January 7-11, 2019 - Week Three

June 24-28, 2019 - Week Four

Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis.

The course is limited to a total of 20 students per cohort. 

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