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Theophostic Counseling (TPM)


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About Theophostic Counseling (TPM):

The word "theophostic" comes from two Greek words: "Theos" (God) and "Phos" (light). Its originator, Ed smith, writes: "These two terms describe God bringing forth illumination into a previously darkened area of one's mind. TheoPhostic counselling offers a new and revolutionary means of accomplishing what traditional approaches to therapy I only saw produce in facsimile." 1,2

Theophostic Counseling (TPM; a.k.a. TheoPhostic Counseling, Theophostic Ministry) shares most of its fundamental beliefs with recovered memory therapy (RMT). Its promoters believe that:

bullet Memories of traumatic events, particularly those of childhood sexual abuse, are often repressed at the time of the incident.
bullet These memories are accurately stored in a part of the brain that is not readily accessible by the adult's conscious brain.
bullet Repressed memories of childhood abuse cause emotional problems in adults.
bullet Repressed memories can be accurately recovered via therapy or counseling.
bullet Recovered memories are accurate recollections of real events.

TPM thus can thus be reasonably considered to be a form of RMT.

However, TPM includes some concepts that are not part of traditional RMT. TPM promoters believe that:

bullet Associated with each of these traumatic memories is a false belief -- a lie -- implanted by Satan. It is the lie, more than the abuse memories themselves, that causes distress in adulthood.
bullet Satan, or one of his demons, continually tries to exploit these lies by causing the individual adult to engage in sinful behaviors, causing feelings of guilt.
bullet During a TPM counseling session, encourages the person to revisit the memory and then allows Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to enter the mind of a born-again Christian and cause the lies to be over-written and corrected -- much like a virus is removed from an computer disk.
bullet It is possible that a demon has actually entered the client's mind, masquerading as Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The therapist must verify the identity of the indwelling spirit before proceeding.
bullet Once the lies in the person's early memory have been corrected, the linkage to today's emotional problems and sinful practices is broken. Satan can not tempt a person to sin as easily as he could before the TPM sessions. The person is healed.

During the pre-scientific eras, sinful behavior, mental illness and physical illness were often attributed to indwelling evil spirits (a.k.a. diabolical spirits, demons, unclean spirits, devils, etc). These beliefs were universally believed in Palestine during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE when the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) were written. Conservative Protestants believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God and inerrant -- without error. Thus, they accept that the biblical accounts about spirit possession are literally true. They believe that individuals in the present generation can be also possessed. They believe that an ever-present Satan, his demons, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit can enter a person's mind and effect changes in the individual's thinking, for evil or for good.

TPM supporters and secular therapists are poles apart on mental health issues. Demonic possession, Satanic seduction, hearing the voice of Jesus, and seeing his image during therapy are normal parts of TPM therapy. The mainline mental health movement abandoned the possibility of spirit possession many generations ago.

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This web site's policy on counseling methods:

It is not normally the policy of this web site to recommend for or against a specific counseling method. However, we make an exception for  therapies which have been shown to be experimental, unproven, and extremely dangerous to clients. One such counseling method is Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT). RMT has had a very low cure rate, a history of creating false memories, and a horrendous record of destroying the mental health of tens of thousands of clients and their families of origin. Fortunately, most RMT therapists abandoned the technique in the late 1990s. We feel that it would be irresponsible for us if we did not recommend that everyone avoid RMT at all costs.  Since RMT forms an integral part of Theophostic Counseling, we also recommend that everyone steer clear of TPM as well -- at least until its safety has been established.

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Potential dangers of TPM:

To our knowledge, no independent study of the efficiency and safety of TPM has yet been conducted. No review of TPM has appeared in any peer-reviewed journal. We urge extreme caution.

Over the past two decades, many psychologists, psychiatrists, other therapists and counselors have developed new forms of therapy that were not grounded on a solid theoretical foundation. These therapies typically grew rapidly in popularity, reached a plateau of acceptance, and then went into decline. The cycle typically takes 15 to 20 years. Past examples of these psychological fads have include Recovered Memory Therapy, Multiple Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Reparative therapy (to attempt to change the client's sexual orientation), Satanic Ritual Abuse, implanting memories of abuse in young children's minds, and UFO abuse oriented therapy. The current therapy-du-jour appears to be Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

The public has no protection against these potentially dangerous and ineffective therapies.

bullet The FDA in the U.S. carefully monitors new medications for safety, effectiveness, and side effects. But there is no comparable government agency which prevents the widespread use of experimental therapies until after their safety and efficiency have been established.
bullet Professional mental health associations have acted irresponsibly and have largely failed to regulate the activities of their own members.

Of concern is that TheoPhostic counseling is performed in a religious setting, typically by conservative Christian counselors with no academic qualifications. Many believe that since prayer is involved in the sessions, that God will prevent any evil acts or false memories from emerging. It is our opinion that God is not responsible for any good effects of TPM nor is Satan responsible for any evil results. Rather, the impact of TPM -- whether good or evil -- is determined by the counselor, the client, and their interaction. During the 1980s and 1990s, RMT seriously harmed many tens of thousands of its victims, drove some to suicide, and disrupted tens of thousands of families of origin. Many of its victims were counseled in a conservative Christian religious setting. Since TPM and RMT are so closely related, we urge the reader avoid becoming involved in TPM or in any other similar experimental therapy. We suspect that TPM has the same potential for evil, if it becomes widely used.

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  1. Quoted in: Martin and Deidre Bobgan, "Theophostic Counseling: Divine Revelation or Psycho  Heresy?" Eastgate Publishers, (1999). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store 
  2. Chapter 1 of Bobgan's book is online at: You need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:

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Copyright 2002 & 2003 y Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-MAY-19
Latest update: 2003-JUL-6
Author: B.A. Robinson

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