Episode 104: Malia Doss, LMFT, SEP on Training to be a Spiritual Director as a Therapist


In this episode of “Soul Care for Therapists,” host Dawn Gabriel welcomes Malia Doss, a licensed marriage and family therapist with 18 years of experience. Malia’s diverse background includes roles as a certified public accountant and an executive in the music industry. She transitioned into therapy after realizing the profound impact of being part of other people’s lives and the richness it brought to her own journey.

The Intersection of Spirituality and Therapy:

Malia and Dawn delve deep into the differences between spiritual direction and therapy. While both have their merits, they emphasize that spiritual direction offers a unique approach to understanding oneself and one’s relationship with the divine. Malia recalls her initial arrogance when starting her training in spiritual direction, thinking it was similar to therapy. However, she soon realized the profound differences and the depth of spiritual direction could offer.

The Power of Spiritual Direction:

Spiritual direction provides a space for individuals to explore their relationship with God and their spiritual journey. Unlike therapy, which often focuses on problem-solving, spiritual direction is about deepening one’s connection with the divine. Malia mentions Larry Crabb’s’ work on the “upstairs and downstairs room,” highlighting the complexities of weaving in one’s relationship with the Lord into therapy. She believes that everyone is on a unique journey, and spiritual direction can be a powerful tool for those ready to delve deeper into their faith.

Community and Support:

Malia emphasizes the importance of community, especially for therapists. She reflects on the challenges she faced when starting out and the lack of generosity she sometimes encountered from peers. However, she believes in the power of finding “your people” and building a supportive community. Dawn echoes this sentiment, mentioning her initiative, “Sacred Space Groups for therapists,” which focuses on integrating spirituality and preventing burnout.

Tips/Action Steps:

  • Self-awareness: Recognize where you are on your spiritual journey. If you find yourself constantly thinking about your relationship with the Lord and seeking more, consider spiritual direction.
  • Seek Mentorship: Find a spiritual director or mentor who can guide you on your journey, ask questions, and provide valuable insights.
  • Build Community: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can support and uplift you. Whether it’s a formal group or informal gathering, community is essential.


In this enlightening episode, Malia Doss shares her insights on the profound impact of spiritual direction and its differences from therapy. Both Malia and Dawn emphasize the importance of community and mentorship in one’s spiritual journey. Whether you’re a therapist or someone seeking a deeper spiritual connection, this episode offers valuable insights and actionable steps to enrich your journey.

Links and Resources

  • Sacred Space Community Groups – with Dawn
  • Soul Care Retreats: Exclusively for therapists who want to recharge in a deep and fulfilling way. You will engage in your own spiritual journey, find some release from the work you do, as well as connect with other therapists all while enjoying the beauty of Colorado at a secluded and peaceful retreat center. Limited to 6-8 therapists.
  • Malia Doss is a therapist at Authentic Connections Counseling Center