What is spiritual coaching
What is Spiritual Coaching?

More and more, coaches are being tasked with delving into spiritual themes with their clients, reflecting a broader societal discourse on spirituality as individuals grapple with the quest for personal meaning. Traditionally, spirituality was interwoven into coaching specialties such as life coaching, wellness coaching, or executive coaching. However, there is a growing recognition of spiritual coaching as a distinct specialty within the broader coaching field.

Spiritual coaches cater to individuals seeking to explore deeper connections and live more empowered, fulfilling lives. Spiritual Coaching is an art that introduces a holistic element to healing, prioritizing a client-centered approach over a problem-centered one. Spiritual Coaches are often more receptive to individuals with diverse faith backgrounds, embracing interfaith, multifaith, and alternative paths, and are ready to meet people at their spiritual starting point. A spiritual coach delves into the profound connections between a person and Source, as interpreted by that individual in relation to the universal life force. Their role is to help individuals cultivate a fresh or more profound understanding of the world around them and the energies coursing through it.

Spiritual coaching is forward-looking, focusing on client goals and outcomes through a spiritual lens. The coaching process integrates spirituality, providing clients with a direct or indirect experience. Many in the coaching profession now identify as spiritual coaches, regardless of other titles such as life, wellness, or executive coach. Spirituality consistently emerges as a theme for exploration, whether directly discussed during a client's recounting of a religious ceremony or indirectly expressed through the appreciation of art, community, physical activities, or nature.

It is essential to note that spiritual coaching does not necessarily involve religion. By incorporating spiritual integration into coaching practice, spiritually competent coaches exemplify cultural humility. This involves respecting and valuing differences, actively seeking to understand and explore diverse spiritual and cultural experiences, as many individuals experience religion and/or spirituality from a cultural perspective. Spiritual coaches may guide clients toward achieving their goals through a nuanced understanding of spirituality and culture.

Some coaches are faith-based; for example, a Christian coach may identify as a spiritual coach. In such cases, clients may seek support aligned with their faith, incorporating Bible passages, sacred texts, or religious practices into their coaching experience. Alternatively, spiritual coaches may operate beyond religious boundaries, drawing from various tools such as Reiki, yoga, essential oils, tarot or oracle cards, divination tools, or mindfulness techniques.

While a religion-based coach and client might incorporate prayer into their sessions, spiritually oriented pairs might opt for guided meditations or explore cards from an oracle or tarot deck. A spiritual coach recognizes the relevance of both religion and spirituality. Whether a coach is a Reiki master, practices a specific religion, or is part of a 12-step group like Alcoholics Anonymous, the ultimate goal remains consistent. Regardless of a client's existing beliefs or lack thereof, the focus is on expanding the client's inner belief system to help them achieve their stated goals.

Even clients with negative experiences from a specific religious background can discover their core strength through spiritual coaching. This holds true whether there is agreement on specific beliefs (religion) or none (unaffiliated with any specific religion). Similarly, individuals declaring themselves as unbelievers can benefit from spiritual coaching by focusing on aspects like intuition, gut instinct, or understanding their situation as existential. In essence, spiritual coaching serves as a valuable avenue for expanding personal and introspective insight.

Adapted from: Nagel, D.M. & Akridge, M.L. (2023). Case Studies in Spiritual Coaching: A Survey Across Wellness, Life and Work Domains. Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Ltd.

First published: Natural Awakenings Magazine, Ocean/Monmouth, NJ. February 2024.

Dr. DeeAnna Merz Nagel teaches self-directed coaching courses at ILCT and is a licensed psychotherapist and certified coach. She is the author of several books and offers a wide range of online courses and certifications. https://deeannamerznagel.com.