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Agape Christian Counselling, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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George Hartwell M.Sc.


Theophostic Models of Inner Healing

© George Hartwell M.Sc., all rights reserved, last revised 2006.

I honour Theophostic models of Christian Counselling and prayer therapy.  Dr. Ed. Smith provided a needed breakthrough and a significant advance in the theory and practice of Christian prayer therapy (also known as inner healing). 
This breakthrough allows therapist and client to quickly move prayer from head to heart.  It is prayer of the heart that transforms lives.
I call my method 'Life Transformation Therapy' and I have integrated some of Smith's insight and methods in my method.
However, I do share the reservations of those who believe that Ed. Smith's personal interest in MPD, DID, SRA and an unnecessary focus on the demonic detract from the benefits of his methods.  Used by nonprofessionals or by professionals who use leading questions in their interviews there is a risk of generating unreliable memories of child abuse, which could unreliable memories of child abuse, which could lead to false accusations against innocent people.
I have an almost obsessive interest in avoiding harm and avoiding undue attention to the demonic.  This means that I would strongly advise against addressing the demons at the beginning of a counselling session.  This certainly would not look like a practice that your supervisor would understand or appreciate.

Moving Past Forgiveness as the Prime Tool of Prayer Therapy

Before Ed Smith, the focus of prayerful Christian counseling was forgiveness.  John and Paula Sandford speaking with authority said "inner healing is forgiveness." Such statements focussed prayer therapists on the identification of sin patterns and taking these into a prayer of forgiveness in the hopes of triggering the fuller healing process that is part of salvation.

Smith found that dealing with heart belief was, in fact, primary to forgiveness of sin.  Like him, I find that heart level healing of wounds brings about a God perspective that generates a new heart attitude of compassion and forgiveness.  If you follow Smith's methods you can have the delight of experiencing a heart felt sense of forgivness that follows heart healing.

 When you are experienced in this path to inner and emotional healing you will not focus as much on the conscious choice of forgivness.  Inner healing, in my view, is discovering and experiencing God's perspective on a person and situation.  God's perpective brings, even equals, healing, health and holiness.

We now know that we must deal with the belief system of the heart. 

It is helpful to know how to 'follow the feeling' to get into the key memory.  It is much more powerful than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy when one knows how to unleash the full power and authority of the revealed Word - 'God's very word spoken to me.'  All this is good, however, some problems have been created by the unwise use of the TheoPhostic method.

When Ed Smith developed his TheoPhostic model of counselling  he  brought significant new insights to inner and emotional healing. He found a way to turn on Christ's light in the dark hurting places of the human heart. Penetrating the darkness with God's light or truth is hte basis for the term TheoPhostic - (God's light; theo = God, phostic = light). However, there have been problems created by some of the practitioners of TheoPhostic Method.

I am concerned with anything in the TheoPhostic training that results in the following:

  1. Opening some sessions be addressing and binding demons is, for me, too much focus Satan and the demonic. I would never address Satan or demons at the start of a counselling session. Nothing in my practice or teaching would ever advocate or support such a practice.  I have used the tools of TheoPhostic in an integrated system I call Life Transformation Therapy in which strongholds are broken and people set free without the use of binding and commanding demons. I entrust a lot to  Jesus,  practice the presence of God and follow systematically a process that works.

  2. Through suggestion and leading questions or naivete, some of the practitioners of Ed Smith's TheoPhostic counseling have fallen into the trap of the "False Memory Syndrome." I exercise great wisdom and discretion in the way questions are put and information is sought. I never rush into the assumption of abuse when there is no clear factual history.  I hate 'check-list' psychology.  I hate the over-use of labels.  Great wisdom and maturity is needed when using listeing prayer.  Avoid a 'fishing expedition.'
  3. Great caution is needed in confirming Satanic Ritual Abuse.  Moving forward without professional training and caution, some TheoPhostic counselors have supported and perhaps created the belief that a person has experienced SRA - Satanic Ritual Abuse. This tendency is inherent in and around services, churches and ministries that focus on Multiple Personality Disorder and SRA. My counsel would be to avoid such ministries because of this danger, namely, of a focus becoming a perception and expectation of SRA.  This is a process that can begin to distort even professional judgement. The result has been families torn apart by clients who come to believe (false memory) in conjured up memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

At this point, I would suggest caution when using the services of a professional whose primary approach is TheoPhostics. When doing so bring a prayer partner who can provide discernment.  Have support. Get prayer coverage. Make use of a professional consultant if you need to check out the direction that counselling is going. TheoPhostic inner healing is powerful tool.  Be careful not to misused this power.

I would suggest the following policies: there should be professional supervision for any lay counsellor using TheoPhostic methods.  A church, agency or counsellor dealing with a lot of cases of multiple personality or Satanic Ritual Abuse should have 'spiritual direction' and pastoral covering from wise experienced professionals. Clients of TheoPhostic counselling should consult every month or so with an independent professional familiar with TheoPhostic who can help bring discernment to the process.

I would advice churches who use prayer counselling:

What the inner healing movement gained from Ed Smith's TheoPhostic is a significant forward development.  Let me affirm three things:

  1. A key to inner healing of a memory is to focus on the beliefs in the memory.  These beliefs generate negative feelings in the present.  These beliefs shape one's perceptual process.

  2. Receiving God's truth brings inner healing to the beliefs.
  3. God's truth generates good feelings, healthy perceptions, godly outlook, a compassionate attitude and heart level forgiveness.
  4. The present inordinate feeling flags a painful memory that can be reached with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  5. The healing that occurs from this method is powerful, deep, permanent and rapid.

    Do not underestimate this.  This is a significant, helpful and fruitful shift.

Previous inner healing focussed on forgiveness of sin and not on core beliefs.  Previous inner healing did not provide a method to locate the painful memories.  Previous inner healing did not make use of the power of listening to Revelation from God.  I would interpret Hebrews 4:13 as saying that God's very word spoken to me is living, active and powerful for dealing with heart issues. 

Lets note, however, that one could well argue that believing false core beliefs is one form of sin. Unbelief is sin. Uncovering false core beliefs is a form of confession. Confronting them with God's truth is a form of cleansing. With the help of the Holy Spirit God's powerful truth can be focussed on the wrong belief imbedded in the traumatic memory.

The focus of inner healing on core beliefs is compatible, in my eyes, with CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Therapy focussed on wrong belief is a well established Psychological treatment. effectiveness is best demonstrated by those methods that focus therapeutic intervention on beliefs.  has this focus.

Definitions of Inner Healing

I have described inner healing as the experience of rapid, deep and significant release from addiction or negative habit patterns, from haunting memories from trauma and abuse, from negative feelings generated by negative beliefs, from negative self-concept and identity into a more fulfilling life filled with more positive feelings and experiences.

Leanne Payne's Inner Healing Focus - Practicing the Presence of God

Leanne Payne emphasizes that our new life is a new identity; that this new identity is sustained by the focus of our listening. We need to be focused on life giving voices through the discipline of "Practicing the Presence of God." She has experienced the "Healing Presence of Christ." We become persons, find our true selves through incarnation - a descent of the Spirit into our deepest being and lives. See The Healing Presence, Preface pg xiv, Crossway Books, 1989.

John and Paula Sandford's Transformation Model of Inner Healing

John and Paula Sandford saw inner healing as an extension of the call to confession and the forgiveness of sins as seen in James 5:16. They write: "What actually transpires is nothing other than the confessional, the revealing and confession of long-forgotten sins." They describe the root problem as 'imbedded guilts' and the fruit of these are the behaviour patterns that rob Christians of their promised abundant life.

They see inner healing as the bringing "into full effect that conversion, death, and resurrection which has already happened." It is receiving more fully the blessed fact that man's sin nature has died. It is "Helping Christians reckon their life as dead in Christ (Rom. 4) in order to claim the new life." Restoring the Christian Family, page 142, Logos, 1979.

Application to Listening Prayer Therapy: The Hebrew definition of "Confession" means literally "open hands." Confession is being open and honest. Confession is bringing what is hidden in the dark chambers of our heart out into the light of day.

Ed Smith's TheoPhostic model of inner Healing

In the Theophostic approach an imbedded painful belief is brought out to the light of day. In my approach, Listening Prayer Therapy, we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the right memory.  I do not 'stir up the darkness' - enhance the feelings - but ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what we felt and believed at that time.

When we become clear and state about what we believed - that is confession. (The 'sin,' 'fault' or 'weakness' that is brought our into the light of day is our wrong belief - perhaps a form of "unbelief.")

Once our unbelief is out in the open, we are open to hear God's truth. Into our pain comes Jesus truth. The light of Christ shines into our darkness. What was hidden and dark becomes revealed and light. We gain God's perspective, a godly attitude.  God's perpective generates 'feelings' like joy, peace, freedom.  Our identity in Christ gets stronger. This is inner healing.

 The Bible notes that: "The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword &ldots;" Hebrews 4:11. So LIstening prayer is effective because it is a form of confession. It is also effective because our unbelieving heart hears the living Word of God - a personal word - God's very word spoken to me. And God's personal word for me is powerful. The skilled Listening Prayer Therapist will be able to set up situations where one receives the word of God in one's heart to be healed. When God's word hits just the right belief in a key memory much healing can happen.

Thephostics, ThePhostic Counselling, is a Christian model of inner healing. I integrate this method for penetrating painful memories into my aproach which I call "Listening Prayer Therapy."

One fact you should know about trauma is that time does not erase the pain. Second, talking about and understanding trauma does not bring relief.  Psychotherapy often brings understanding  without significant healing of one's life. In the presence of God a skilled therapist who understands the process of listening prayer therapy can guide you to emotional freedom - significant healing of core issues can happen at every session.

Adopting Ed Smith's TheoPhostic model of inner Healing

In Listening Prayer Therapy we use only certian parts of Ed Smith's TheoPhostic approach. For example, I will not state a session by commanding demons as Ed Smith sometimes feels compelled to do.

In theophostics one follows that pattern laid down and there is little room for flexibility. In Listening Prayer Therapy, as I teach it, flexibility is a virtue so that the client has some choice.

Practitioners of Theophostics seem to have become focussed on MPD, DID and SRA (multiple personality, dissociative disorder, Satanic ritual abuse). I run from these and from all diagnostic labels. My procedures do not require diagnostic labels and I refuse to treat labels. I choose to treat people.


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1.  Smith’s assumption that many people have hidden memories of abuse, as yet to be discovered, sets the stage for the biggest danger I think Theophostic Ministry poses to the public: false accusations against innocent family members.  (p26 of 160)

2.   These statements portray a person who believes all or most of us are suffering from repressed wounds received at the hands of our original biological group.  http://www.mypetra.org/eBooks/Report%20On%20Theophostic%20Ministry.pdf (p25 of 160.)

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