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Professional Diploma in Spiritual Guidance / Direction


Spiritual Guidance Training at An Croí

With a background in theology and spirituality, Dr Geraldine Holton and Carmel Boyle became innovative leaders in the area of Spirituality. They have developed various spiritual programmes and the first academically recognised programme for spiritual guidance in Ireland in collaboration with Milltown Institute. They were founding members of the All Ireland Spiritual Guidance Association.  The Spiritual Guidance Training programme has been running successfully for almost twenty years. The programme responds to the current spiritual landscape with a contemplative and creative programme with a Celtic flavour. The programme is now delivered as a Professional Diploma in Spiritual Guidance and is recognised by the All Ireland Spiritual Guidance Association.


Professional Diploma in Spiritual Guidance / Direction 

Hybrid Programme Delivery with in-person and online participation options, supported by An Croí Learning Platform.

Programmes at An Croí Wisdom Institute are characterised by a contemplative, creative and compassionate approach, elements that are foundational for the Spiritual Direction/Guidance Training and soul-centred accompaniment. The programme is rooted in the Christian Tradition; however, it has an inter-spiritual perspective that focuses on perennial wisdom and is significantly enriched by the Anamchara tradition in Celtic spirituality.

An Croí Wisdom Institute offers a comprehensive professional certification programme in Spiritual Guidance and is recognised by the All Ireland Spiritual Guidance Association. We have chosen to adopt the term Spiritual Guidance instead of Spiritual Direction, and we are aware of the conversation around the limitations of any term to describe this work; however, we use both terms interchangeably for understanding in different contexts. The term Soul-Centred Accompaniment has been added more recently as we respond to the current spiritual landscape, including contemporary spiritual psychology. This programme has been running successfully for almost twenty years. It is continually updated as we respond to current spirituality and spiritual practice trends while remaining true to the ancient tradition of spiritual direction.

Programme Aim

The programme aims to provide the psycho-spiritual training in theory and practice necessary for spiritual guidance and soul-centred accompaniment. It focuses on spiritually orientated processes, practices and perspectives, drawing on ancient wisdom from the Christian tradition of spiritual direction, perennial wisdom across traditions and insights from psycho-spiritual disciplines.

It aims to provide theoretical, spiritual, and ethical foundations and prepare participants to become spiritual guides/ directors and for some who already have a professional practice, to be able to integrate soul work and spiritual perspectives into their existing practice.

The programme aims to develop a contemplative, compassionate and creative approach that enables participants to develop a personal philosophy of Spiritual Guidance and gain a critical and theoretical understanding of the nature and elements involved in spiritual guidance and soul accompaniment. There is a Celtic flavour to the programme influenced by the Anamchara-Soulfriendship tradition.


Programme Intentions

  • Prepare participants for their role as Spiritual Guidance Practitioners
  • Develop a contemplative, compassionate and creative approach to Spiritual Guidance
  • Enable participants to acquire the skills necessary for Spiritual Guidance & SCA
  • Facilitate spiritual growth and understanding of the ways of Divine Mystery in human experience and relationship with the Divine.
  • Examine some theories, approaches, models, and psychological and social contexts necessary for Spiritual Guidance and develop a working model based on the principles of the programme.
  • Gain the theoretical foundations in learning necessary for Spiritual Guidance &SCA.
  • Facilitate participants as they discern their role as Spiritual Guidance Practitioners.
  • Provide practical training in the skills of Spiritual Guidance and provide the opportunity to engage in Spiritual Guidance with Guidee’s under supervision.
  • Enable participants to develop a personal philosophy of Spiritual Guidance and gain a critical and theoretical understanding of the nature and elements involved.
  • Develop an understanding of the ethical responsibilities of a Spiritual Guidance Practitioner.

While developing spiritual accompaniment and soul-making skills, the programme also explores the relationship between spirituality and psychology, psyche and soul, spiritual direction and counselling. Other areas explored include maps of spiritual unfolding, psycho-spiritual issues, spiritual guidance approaches and traditions, and contemplative spiritual practices.

Programme Modules

Module:1. The Art of Spiritual Guidance & Soul-Centred Accompaniment

Module:2. Spiritual Guidance: Traditions, Approaches and Themes

Module:3. Spiritual Experience, Contemplative Spiritual Practices & Discernment

Module:4. Spiritual Unfolding & Soul Consciousness

Module:5. Self-Understanding & Psycho-Spiritual Themes for Spiritual Guidance:

Module:6. Transformational Learning and Integrative Practices

Learner Profile

Ideally, The programme is suited to those who wish to train in spiritual guidance/direction and become a certified spiritual director/guide. It is also geared towards caring professionals who wish to integrate a spiritual perspective into their professional practice with competency and ethical awareness. It is also suitable for those who want to lead retreats or spiritually focused groups.

Suitable candidates normally have some foundation in spirituality, counselling or a cognate area.   Participants will typically have:

  • Felt drawn to spiritual accompaniment and soul work with others that is evidenced in their life
  • Have some background in spirituality/theology/counselling or cognate area.
  • Willingness to engage in Spiritual Guidance themselves.
  • A commitment to spiritual growth and contemplative spiritual practices
  • An ability to listen to others with reverence.
  • Commitment to the duration and components of the programme
  • A personal capacity for openness, change and transformation.

Programme Structure

There are three stages in the programme.

1. The initial stage begins following application and involves a discernment conversation and an invitation to engage with some preparatory reading.

2. The Learning Stage involves monthly scheduled training days now delivered in a hybrid format that blends in-person and online. This means we can simultaneously include participants from outside of Ireland and in-person attendees. This aspect of the training provides theoretical foundations and develops foundational skills for Spiritual Guidance in various settings. 

Our online learning platform supports learning, which can be accessed throughout the programme. Monthly gatherings focus on experiential learning, integration and practice. 

This stage also includes four consecutive days of intensive training during the An Croí Spirituality Summer School.

The programme then continues to build on these foundations by providing practical training and psycho-spiritual foundations. The programme also provides an opportunity to engage in accompanying others under supervision. The programme aims to facilitate growth in understanding the ways of the Divine Presence in human experience and foster spiritual growth and human becoming. Participants will gain insights into soul work and prepare to become spiritual practitioners. The programme will develop the art and provide the professional training to become a certified Spiritual Guide/Director.

3. The final stage of the programme is the integrative stage, which provides an opportunity to integrate learning and complete required skills practice under supervision and complete a final learning portfolio.

 Programme Commitment

The programme commitment involves a discernment phase following application, monthly training sessions over a calendar year, Fridays 4-8 pm & Saturdays 10 am-5 pm from September to June (Video Conference or in-house),  and participation in a four-day intensive training component usually in late July 2024 plus an integration phase (July-December) which includes supervision of practice.

The programme adapted to the challenges of our times and restrictions on physical meetings during the pandemic. This has provided new opportunities and expanded ways of learning so it is exciting that the training will now also involve a blend of online and in-house training, which makes the programme more accessible to participants from abroad.

The programme is delivered in an integrative modular format, though each training session will focus on a particular module, with ongoing skills training, practice and integration. Successful participants who complete all components of the programme (including summer intensive, three self-schedule retreat days, a commitment to the required number of sessions of personal spiritual guidance and guiding others under supervision) will be eligible for the award of Professional Diploma in Spiritual Guidance, recognised by the All Ireland Spiritual Guidance Association.

Discernment Phase Discernment Conversation

Preparatory Reading

July – Sept 2023


at An Croí Wisdom Institute

Monthly Sessions

Friday 4-8 pm

Sat. 10-5 pm


October 2023 – June 2024

An Croí Wisdom SchoolFour DayJuly 18th -21st 2024Spiritual Guidance Engagement10 SessionsMonthlySpiritual Guidance Practice10 Sessions

(between 2 guidees)

January – OctoberSpiritual Guidance Skills Prac.25 hours video sessions May-June 2024

External Supervision5 Sessions

(also internal x3)

January – October 2024 Retreat Experience DaysMinimum Three days Self-scheduled

E-Learning & Video Conference

Self Directed learning with Resources online class On-going

Three integration Sessions3 Sessions Sept – Nov.

Outline of proposed schedule for 2021-2022


Assessment on the programme is based on the completion of both transformative and summative assessments as outlined below. Assignments are presented in a variety of formats with summative assignments and transformative evidence, which is presented and integrated into the presentation of a professional learning portfolio format for the final assessment at the end of the programme.

During the programme, participants are required to complete assignments to be submitted in a variety of formats, which may include: a book report, essay, group presentations, creative presentations with supporting documentation, reflection papers, microanalyses, verbatims, and learning journals.

Programme Director and Tutors

 Programme Director & Key Tutor: Carmel Boyle MMin, BATh

 Co-Tutor : Dr Geraldine Holton DPsych.,MSc., Adult Ed. BATh.

 Visiting Tutors online / in-person include : 

Dr Jack Finnegan SDB DD           

Paddy Greene  SJ STL, MA.   

Dr Kathleen Deignan CND Professor Emeritus Iona University NY 

Vincent O Grady MA HDSG  


The programme director may engage visiting presenters with particular expertise and experience to enhance the programme online or in person.

Programme Details 2023-2024

Fridays 4 pm-8 pm & Saturdays 10 am-5 pm

Dates Sept. 22nd/23rd, Oct. 20th/21st,  Nov. 24th/25th, Dec. 15th/16th

2024 Jan.26th/27th, Feb 16th/17th, March 22nd/23rd

April 19th/2oth, May 24th/25th,  June 28th/29th,  Sept 14th

An Croí Wisdom Summer School July 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th 2024

Programme Financial Investment  €1750 (payable in instalments)

(Retreats, spiritual guidance, supervision and accommodation not included in fee)