SDC 100: Ongoing Conversion, Deepening Discipleship, and the Foundations of Spiritual Direction introduces students to God’s plan for the human person and His desire that the person “have life and life in abundance” (John 10:10). Students delve into the Catholic understanding of the human person and the progressive development and complete flourishing that are part of God’s plan for each person. This fundamentally positive model views the person as possessing intrinsic dignity, as free and able to make responsible choices, relational and connected to others and society, and as seeking well-being, moral character, and spiritual growth; meanwhile, each person also experiences the mysterious reality of sin. Students then consider the nature of spiritual direction, its history and the identity of a spiritual director. Finally, students assess the relationship of the program to their personal goals and create a development plan that they refine throughout their course of studies.
SDC 200 Human Development for Spiritual Direction explores the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual facets of human growth and development. This course focuses on basic processes and theories involved in the development of human relationships, as they illuminate challenges and opportunities in the spiritual life. Students will learn how human development can enlighten the process of spiritual growth.
SDC 300: Relating Skills for Spiritual Direction (with Residency in week 7) introduces foundational skills essential to become an effective spiritual director. Students focus on developing interviewing and listening skills, and building healthy relationships with directees. Emphasis is on empathetic listening, developing directee narratives (case conceptualization), the nature and boundaries of the spiritual direction relationship, and its correlation with other helping professionals. Students will participate in sessions with peers in order to practice and demonstrate basic spiritual direction skills. The course ends with a 4-day residency to assess and deepen these skills. On completion of this course, students are asked to begin accompanying 2 people as spiritual companions.
SDC 400: Discernment and Spiritual Growth: Theory and Practice builds on the previous courses and looks specifically at the factors that contribute toward or impede spiritual development and flourishing, including the growth and influence of vice and virtue, sin and grace, as well as the human and social realities that can affect growth of the supernatural life. Students are introduced to recognizing the movements of the Holy Spirit within their own soul and the souls of others, and thus distinguishing what arises from psychological or emotional factors from the spiritual. Students also learn how to recognize and refer for problems requiring psychological counseling.
SDC 500: Advanced Spiritual Direction Skills and Practicum: Putting Out into the Deep (with Week 2 Residency) provides students with an initial experience in ministering to directees from diverse backgrounds. This experience requires 48 hours of direct service, face-to-face beginning in Week 3 and continuing through SDC 600 conducting introductory sessions and initial meetings, developing an appropriate spiritual direction relationship, and conducting regular sessions. Students will participate in supervision groups in which they will review their spiritual direction sessions (in an anonymous way) for discussion and evaluation. Student progress is monitored throughout the course. Students will be able to demonstrate the necessary competencies in the areas of relating with the directee, review of personal history, summarizing the work of the Spirit in the person’s life, use of different methods of spiritual direction, and managing workload and schedule. The course includes a 4-day residency in Week 2 to assess and deepen students’ understanding and practice and embodiment of the needed spiritual direction skills.
SDC 600: Advanced Prayer and Situations explores mature stages of spiritual growth, including the ongoing development and stages of prayer, passive purifications of the spirit, and the spiritual movements of persons as they develop more deeply in their walk with the Lord. Students focus on the growth of Christ within the soul and union with God through the different stages of this growth and the collaboration that the person can contribute through a life of grace, prayer and discernment, living of virtue and service to others.
All courses are fully online, in eight-week modules, and asynchronous (i.e. students complete weekly coursework at a time of their own choosing).
Each course requires on average about 7-10 hours of work per week.
The skills-related courses (SDC 300 and SDC 500) involve some group work via video conferencing and include a required four-day residency.
None of the SDC Program courses carry transferable credit to the degree programs of Divine Mercy University.