Spiritual direction

Spiritual direction, also sometimes called spiritual companionship, supports you in deepening your faith/spiritual life. Despite the word "direction," I am not here to give you directions or tell you what to believe. Rather, I use active listening and thought-provoking questions to help you explore and clarify your belief systems, your values, and your goals. The result is greater self-knowledge, a better grasp of your values and beliefs, deeper discernment abilities, and stronger mastery of your mind.

How does it work?

Typically, spiritual direction is a series of open-ended sessions that are about 90 minutes each in length and take place in an interval of four to eight weeks.

While one of the goals of spiritual direction is the refining of discernment, it is non-judgmental, inclusive, and accepting of all human diversity and all walks of life.

Active listening sessions hold an intentional space for you to voice your thoughts. Primarily, this is about helping you listen to your inner voice by helping you navigate the complex world of thoughts and emotions. Through pointed, clarifying questions, you will discover yourself in a new and unexpected way, opening yourself to find divine directions within.

This is not a psychotherapy or proselytizing session. While it is somewhat similar in format, it differs also from "personal coaching" sessions or pastoral counseling.

Adapted for neurodiversity.

Most spiritual direction sessions in the neurotypical community are in-person, or sometimes over the phone.

Recognizing that computer-mediated communications are often the preferred choice of our community (source), and that in-person or phone sessions could be difficult and potentially anxiety-inducing, Mind Geographic's spiritual direction sessions are available via Discord, Matrix, or Telegram -- and even by encrypted email (your choice of PGP, ProtonMail, or Tutanota).

Furthermore, you'll be glad to know that you'll be talking with an autistic person, who can relate to your lived experiences. A 2019 scientific study in Scotland confirms what we've vaguely known: there is a form of social intelligence that is specific to autistic people (source).

Privacy and confidentiality matter.

Mind Geographic takes your privacy seriously. To the extent possible, all communications with you will be encrypted. We don't ask for personal information not relevant to spiritual direction. In fact, we welcome anonymous* clients. To better protect your privacy and confidentiality, when you make your first appointment, you will be asked to create an "account ID code" consisting of one English or Spanish word and two numerals (example: mountain29) - for record-keeping purposes, you will be known only by this account ID code. Once all fees due have been received and cleared, any information linking your personally identifiable information and your account ID code will be deleted.

Some neurotypical people may predictably object to this, saying how's that for "personal authenticity"? But we know that the sense of "self" is quite different for us, and we also believe that one can benefit from the creative thinking process even if your name or life story is entirely fictitious--like a work of art is a reflection of the artist's inner state, even a "fiction" will reflect the deep part of who you are.

Frankly, the performative vulnerability only serves to reify ableism and classism.

* Fees must be prepaid upon making an appointment if you elect to be anonymous or otherwise do not provide billing information. Contact us in advance for anonymous payment options.

Our spiritual direction covenant

These are the agreements we hold in order to co-create a meaningful spiritual companionship.

This covenant is an agreement between you and me to set the ground rules and parameters of engagement.

Ground rules

Presumption of fiction: At Mind Geographic, we encourage creative thinking and this also means you might want to "invent" a persona if that would be conducive for you to get out of your normal thinking routine. Everything you share with me, therefore, is presumed to be a work of fiction or a creative retelling of your actual life experience mixed in with fictitious musings.

Confidentiality: Everything that is shared in your sessions will stay in the sessions. I keep extremely minimal records, all records will be encrypted, and nothing will be divulged. All records will be destroyed after 90 days of inactivity (counted from the last session). If you prefer encrypted email communication, I recommend using PGP, Tutanota, or ProtonMail. Having said that, however, the nature of digital communications is such that a risk of information breach and data leak is always present. Therefore, notwithstanding our best efforts, total confidentially cannot be guaranteed in case of malware and spyware infiltration, software and server failures, third-party interception of Internet traffic, hacking, or password theft. 

Synchronous versus asynchronous sessions: Because not everyone is able to do live chat, asynchronous sessions are also available upon request. Asynchronous sessions will be through encrypted email, and each "session" for this purpose will be a seven-day period. During this time, I will present you with a set of questions and/or prompts for you to use and you can respond at your leisure within the seven-day period. The fee for a seven-day asynchronous session is the same as a 90-minute synchronous ("live") session.

Cancellation and rescheduling: If you need to reschedule or cancel any synchronous session (i.e., live chat), you must notify Willow by email no later than 24 hours in advance. Conversely, your session may be canceled by a 24-hour notice if I am ill or if I have some urgent matters to attend to. We use the North American Pacific Time Zone (same as Vancouver and San Francisco). Fees are non-refundable but will be applied toward the next session if you cancel no later than 24 hours before the scheduled session. If you cancel within 24 hours of your session or if you "flake out," you will forfeit the fees paid.

Inappropriate conduct: While I recognize the diversity of sexuality and how sexuality may play an important role in people's spiritual lives (and I am fairly kink-friendly), spiritual direction is not a forum for overly sexualized or sexually explicit interactions. If I determine that your conduct is becoming inappropriate at any point, I reserve the right to terminate your session and discontinue any further sessions. Additionally, any abusive conduct, harassment, hate speech, threats of violence, suicide or self-harm, etc., will have absolutely no place in our spiritual direction sessions and will not be tolerated. It is the intention of Mind Geographic to create an intentionally safe space for everyone.

Support between sessions: You are welcome to email Willow at any time between sessions with questions, feedback, prayer requests, or anything else. However, it may take a few days before response. You are also welcome to participate in the official Mind Geographic and/or The Expeditioners Church online groups.

Suicide, self-harm, and mental health emergencies: Please be aware that this is NOT a mental health service and is NOT a substitute for appropriate healthcare. If you're experiencing a severe mental health crisis, we may suspend our spiritual direction sessions until you have sufficiently recovered. 

Waiver of liabilities: By participating in spiritual direction, you expressly indicate your agreement that you are aware that spiritual direction is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counseling or any other type of therapy or medical, legal, or financial advice. You participate with a full understanding that I will not be liable legally or otherwise, for the actions you may or may not undertake as a result of the spiritual direction sessions. No assumption of responsibility is made, or given, and the client requesting such advice agrees not to hold me responsible or liable in any form or fashion. Nothing in spiritual direction sessions that are given in no manner whatsoever, written or verbal, constitutes an agreement or liability on the part of the provider and is acknowledged to be different in many ways than clinical and medical counseling. You agree that using any of Mind Geographic's services is entirely at your own risk, and is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including without limitation. This service is requested at your own choice and with inherent singular responsibility.  

One more thing, because it's the law: Willow is an ordained member of the clergy and this means the Oregon state law requires mandatory reporting of anyone who is suspected of child abuse or elder abuse. If Willow knows that you live in Oregon and it comes to Willow's attention that you may be engaging in child or elder abuse, you will be reported to the Oregon Department of Human Services. You are warned.

Other providers

Depending on who you are, I may not be the right person to talk to. I get that. I do not assume that I am the best or even qualified spiritual director for everyone. I might seem too "Christian" to some, too "worldly" to others; too "leftist" to some, too "conservative" to others. Some people are drawn to someone who is different from them, which can give them new and fresh perspectives; while others prefer to work with people from similar backgrounds or cultures. 

For these reasons, I am happy to refer you to another (although the list I have is very small at this time) provider if I feel that would be more beneficial to you.