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Institute and Certificate in Spiritual Direction FAQ

Soul Shepherding Institute 

Soul Shepherding’s Institute is tailored to pastors, ministry leaders, missionaries, lay leaders and men and women serving the Lord in ministry. These Institute retreats will deepen your intimacy with Jesus and overflow in positive ways into all of your ministry work and relationships.

New cohorts begin one to three times a year. Here you will find information on current and upcoming cohorts, we typically have fall/spring cohorts and winter/summer cohorts.

Cohorts generally average about 35 participants for each retreat. Participants have come from all over the world including 15 states and 11 countries (UK, Mexico, Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, Canada, Columbia, China, New Zealand and more).

Drs. Bill and Kristi Gaultiere (therapists, pastors, and spiritual directors) developed the Institute retreats, spiritual direction certificate, and coaching certificate programs and content to integrate Jesus-centered psychology and spiritual formation. They were personally mentored by Dallas and Jane Willard for a number of years and their teachings are throughout. The retreats are five days long, rather than three days, to facilitate an immersion in God’s loving presence with an authentic community of fellow leaders. The Soul Shepherding approach emphasizes intimacy with Jesus, empathy, authenticity, and leading others out of the overflow of God’s grace in your own life.

We begin at noon on Monday and wrap up by 12:30 pm on Friday. Each day begins with breakfast, followed by teaching, group training and small group breakouts (men and women).  Afternoons are spent in what we call TLC time (To Love Christ). This time is set aside for quiet reflection in nature, scripture meditation, recreation or a nap! You will also receive personalized care and coaching in a small group. After dinner is a time for community that includes question and answer (what we call “squeeze the sponge”), brief teaching, guided spiritual experiences, and sharing with a small group or partner. And there is plenty of free time to connect with other fellow retreat participants.

For each retreat you will receive a free PDF notebook that includes introductions and outlines for each session, space for note-taking, Bible studies, guided spiritual experiences. At the retreat you can purchase a printed notebook for $25 (covers our printing costs).

You can do the four retreats in any order. Doing them in order with the same cohort has extra benefits.

The Institute retreats are subsidized by donations. Additionally, Soul Shepherding can offer partial scholarships for pastors or missionaries who are unable to pay the full tuition. These are provided on a case-by-case basis. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact Mark@soulshepherding.org.

Your first step is to complete the application and provide one reference. Have the person providing your reference use this link: Reference Form.  After we review your application and reference, you will receive an email notification from Soul Shepherding regarding your acceptance status. If you are accepted, you will be required to make a $250 deposit to secure your spot.  If you want to apply for both the Institute Retreats and Certificate in Spiritual Direction Program, please see below.

If you’ve already applied for the Institute Retreats or Certificate in Spiritual Direction Program, click HERE to register for an Institute Retreat today!

We have designed our cancellation policy to be considerate while also respecting the costs incurred by Soul Shepherding. After registering for an Institute Retreat, 30 days or more prior to the start of a retreat you may cancel and request to apply your payment to another retreat occurring within 12 months by emailing jodine@soulshepherding.org. 0-29 days prior to the start of a retreat no refunds or credits will be given. Soul Shepherding will receive what you paid as a tax deductible donation.

Certificate in Spiritual Direction (CSD) Program 

The CSD program is designed to accompany the Institute retreats for those who sense a call to become trained as a spiritual director. It is an optional 24 month program of additional training with a cohort of other like-minded people.

CSD is an online course completed with a cohort over 24 months. It includes:

    • 4 Institute retreats
    • 12 online classes (one every other month)
    • 10 group supervision sessions and 1 individual supervision session
    • Receiving a minimum of 12 spiritual direction sessions (one every other month) from one of Soul Shepherding’s Sr. Spiritual Directors 
    • Enriching reading assignments with short reflection papers on what you’re learning
    • 20 spiritual direction sessions you lead with a friend or someone you’re ministering to — using practical tools that we give you

If you have never applied for the Institute, you will need to complete our training application. You will also need to provide two references. (Have the people providing your references use this link: Reference Form.) Once you are accepted, you can confirm your participation by completing the enrollment form and making your first payment online or by mail to Soul Shepherding, 4000 Barranca Parkway, Suite 250 Irvine, CA 92604.

If you’ve already applied for the Institute Retreats and you want to add the CSD Program, please complete the CSD Application.

The cost of this program is $369/month for 24 months. This covers online classes, supervision groups and more. (The Institute retreats are included in this price).

Curriculum books and individual spiritual direction sessions are not included in the $369/month payment. Discounts for spiritual direction are available to students who meet with one of Soul Shepherding’s certified Sr. Spiritual Directors. A full breakdown of these program costs can be found at this link.

Soul Shepherding can offer partial scholarships for pastors and missionaries who are unable to pay the full tuition. These are provided on a case-by-case basis. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact mark@soulshepherding.org.

Soul Shepherding’s CSD program is a cost effective way to receive spiritual direction training without the added time commitment and expense that often comes with seminary based programs (usually requiring a Masters degree). The CSD Program exceeds the certification requirements of the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association (ESDA). You can find out more about those requirements at their website: Grafted Life Training Minimums

Graduates are eligible to be listed in our exclusive Soul Shepherding Spiritual Director’s Network. You can join the Soul Shepherding Network for access to our leadership community, ongoing supervision groups, and a vault of extensive resources and tools. Once you are certified by Soul Shepherding you can have your profile listed on our website to increase your visibility, network with other leaders, and generate referrals.


If you have further questions about our retreats and the CSD program, we would be happy to meet with you.  You can schedule a free Zoom call here or you can email Dave Rimoldi at dave@soulshepherding.org. We are here to serve and help you get started.

Soul Shepherding