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Miscellaneous Issues

Theophostic Prayer and Miscellaneous Issues

Critic’s concern: Smith has both referred to TPM as “counseling” and denies that it is “counseling.” Which is it?

Ed Smith’s response: When I first introduced this prayer approach in 1996 I called it Theophostic Counseling since that what is the context in which it initially emerged.  However, I stopped calling it counseling about 10 years ago. I am not sure what source you are referring to where I call it counseling. It is possible that you have an earlier edition of the training where the terms had not yet all been changed.  Please use the latest editions of the training. The reason I called it Theophostic Counseling in the early years was I was learning and developing the process and “counseling” was the only grid that I had at that time to explain what I was doing. As I applied this ministry more and more I began to realize that counseling did not define it for what it was. It is prayer and ministry. If a person starts counseling the person (giving advice, diagnosing, providing action plans, analyzing, etc., then it ceases to be Theophostic Prayer. Please see the Ministry Session Guidelines.



Critic’s concern: Does Theophostic Prayer Ministry really understand and address “core issues?”

Ed Smith’s response: I am not sure what you are exactly referring to when you say core issues.  However, I understand that people who come to me today have core beliefs that are causing them trouble in their lives and as they find the truth in their innermost parts they are walking in more consistent victory. They are reporting peace where there was pain and freedom where there was bondage. I am witnessing dysfunctional symptoms that have plagued people for years dissipate. In the years before Theophostic Prayer I used traditional approaches to counseling as I was trained to do in my schooling. I had the results that I had. People did become more functional, understood how their past had impacted them etc. However, in the years before TPM I did not see people finding complete and lasting peace in places of deep traumatic pain as I am today.  In the years prior to TPM I was seeing marriages grow stronger, relationships restored, but I was not seeing the Holy Spirit calm pain right before my eyes. I am today. I had a successful cognitive therapy practice. I am not in any way saying that other forms of counseling or ministry are not valid or helpful. Anything that causes a person to move in the direction of God’s desire for them, and brings about the peace and holiness He wants them to know, has my blessings (that is of course unless it is contrary to Scripture).



Critic’s concern: Does the TPM Basic Training address  psychological defense mechanisms thoroughly?.


Ed Smith’s response: Actually there are many areas of psychology that I do not fully address or even attempt to address in this training. TPM is not a study in psychology but prayer ministry.  I have no desire to train people in becoming a counselor but only a prayer minister.  If a person wants to become a counselor there are may avenues to pursue this.  The area of defense mechanisms has been covered in detail in a host of resources at the disposal of any student that desires to know more about such. TPM is a prayer ministry.

Critic’s concern:: Smith’s comparison of dissociation with “day dreaming” is over simplified.  Why doesn’t TPM give more training in this important area?

Ed Smith’s response: I am fully aware that dissociation is not daydreaming.  Dissociation is a complex defense against feeling, remembering or knowing that that which a person does not want to experience. I am very clear on this issue in the Basic Training. I have never said that daydreaming “is” dissociation but only used this to help the lay person to understand it in a very basic and simplified way. Here is a small portion of what I say about this in the Basic Seminar Manual:

“Psychology has much to say about the condition known as dissociation. Although I am not an expert in this field, I have learned much through experience. I also network with friends and colleagues who are mental health professionals and lean on them as needed. This is not a clinical discussion of all the characteristics of this specialist field but a brief lay minister’s overview. Minister within the limits of your understanding and skill and preferably with qualified supervision. As the Body of Christ we are called to minister to all people and pray for God’s intervention even in complex situations. As lay ministers, do just that – pray with people.

If you have not encountered this phenomenon in your ministry experience, some of what I am about to discuss may sound strange and confusing. Don’t leap to conclusions or try to do psychoanalysis, but keep learning, developing and growing in your knowledge.

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from the elements of a traumatic event, which might include emotional pain, physical sensation, and/or visual memory. It occurs to differing degrees, the most extreme being a fragmented personality, as seen with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

A dissociated person may have a visual memory of an event, without any feelings to accompany it. Another person may have strong physical and emotional abreaction, but lack any visual memory to explain it. Still another person may have complete amnesia of the event, yet suffer from chronic pain, fibromyalgia, stomach problems, eating disorders, compulsions, and addictions. However, the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that the person is dissociated. Here again, diagnosis should be reserved for those trained in this area.

Dissociation does not tend to surface unless you address the memories holding the lie-based traumatic pain where the person is using the dissociation as a mental defense. People do not tend to seek counseling or other forms of help because they believe they may be dissociated. People seek help because their lives are falling apart or they are carrying emotional pain that is disruptive to their daily living.

Each of us experiences normal daydreaming, highway hypnosis, etc., which are common means of dealing with the mundane events of life. Although these behaviors should not be classified as severe dissociation, they may help us to better grasp what the mind does when it dissociates from pain. For example, if I go out to mow the grass (which I hate to do), I will “dissociate” somewhat while doing so, but come right back into awareness afterwards and have some memory of the event. In pathological DID, however, there is dissociation at the extreme levels exhibited in highly-developed alter systems. While I return to my conscious world after mowing the grass and recall having pushed the mower, a traumatized child does not allow the memory to return to conscious memory for fear of experiencing the pain again.”


Critic’s concern: Does Smith fail to distinguish between “untruth’ and “unknown truth” when discussing “false logical data” and “lie-based experiential knowledge?”


Ed Smith’s Response: TPM focuses on lies that are producing emotional pain not on misinformation. TPM starts with encouraging the person to focus on the pain they have brought into the session. From this point they are encouraged to allow their minds to connect them to any place where the emotion seems to be related. In this place they are encouraged to identify the lies that they believe that is causing the pain. “Unknown” truth is what it is but it will not likely be a source of emotional pain.

Critic’s concern: How does TPM address current issues that are first-time experiences and not memory-based?

Ed Smith’s response: Actually everything in our mind is memory.  There is no current experience apart from the present tense. The moment that anything occurs in my life it becomes a memory. It is impossible to work on the present since it is actually immeasurable. This issue is discussed on the DVD series and also in the Basic Manual. When people come for help with memory events that are recent it is dealt with in exactly the same way. Please view the video session on the TPM website where the woman had a six day old trauma where she discovered her 3 year old strangulated by the mini blind cord. She found complete peace during the session. Two years later she is still reporting complete release of the emotional pain. However, it is important to note that during the session she also visited a childhood memory where her sister experienced an asthma attack where she thought she was going to die. This painful place was also released of its pain. This is what typically occurs when a person initially addresses a current issue.

Critic’s response: Who could be vulnerable to harm by the use or misuse of TPM?

Ed Smith’s response: I know of no reported issues where people experienced harm where the ministry facilitator followed the ministry guidelines and protocol. TPM training goes to great measures to make sure people do not do things that might result in unfortunate outcomes. However, there is always the possibility of problems where people misuse any form of helping ministry. People can be emotionally hurt by listening to a sermon, receiving cognitive therapy, or seeking advice from a trusted friend. When the survey was taken on the Internet inviting any person out there to report their TPM experiences there were no negative reports from over 2800 people who responded. There were a handful of people who reported bad experiences that they called TPM when in fact it was not TPM they received but simply bad therapy. For example, if they reported the person touched them inappropriately, ask leading questions, guided the process, made it all about demons, etc. then these people had a bad experience but it was not because of the process but the facilitator.

Critic’s concern: What situations increase the possibility of misuse of TPM with iatrogenic effects?

Ed Smith’s response: With the tens of thousands of therapist, pastors, psychiatrist and lay ministers working with people reporting deep emotional pain there is only a minimal percentage of verified cases of iatrogenic outcomes. There are a few organizations that have as an agenda to create hysteria but there appears to be a much larger portion of the helping community that sees it for what it is. This is not to say that it is impossible for a person to be implanted with false information, for it certainly is possible; just very rare. With the large number of helping professionals and lay persons doing this work (not just TPM facilitators) the reported cases of this is minute. With this said TPM overkills in avoiding this ever happening. No other form of helping ministry that I am aware of goes to the extent that we do in making sure that the facilitator NEVER inputs anything into the memory content. Please read the Ministry Session Guidelines to see this.

Critic’s concern: I question the source and reliability of the inner voices so common and essential to the TPM process.

Ed Smith’s response: I am not sure exactly what you are referring to other than we ask people to listen to their own thoughts and to the Holy Spirit and to be discerning of the voice of the enemy as well. In like fashion the facilitator is always to be keenly aware of other sources of thinking besides the person’s own thinking and point out anything that is questionable.  Having a person to report what they are thinking is a common practice in all forms of counseling and ministry.  Anytime any counselor in any arena of counseling asks a person to report what he is thinking he is doing the same thing as a TPM facilitator might do. “What are you thinking about?” is a very common question a counselor might ask. So when a TPM facilitator asks the person to listen to his own thoughts he is not operating outside of common bounds.


Critic’s concern: Are the interpretations related to first-time experiences reliable? How can someone remember a misinterpreted experience accurately? Wouldn’t the memory be unreliable because the interpretation was?

Ed Smith’s response: There is no question that a person’s lie belief will change and morph over time. Nevertheless, it what is currently believed that is causing the pain. I really do not think that whether a person’s original exact thought is relevant to finding release. This has never been an issue anywhere along the way. We aren't focused on resurrecting memories and assuring their accuracy. We are focused on finding the experiential context where a lie-based thought is held and encouraging the person to turn to God for His truth.

Critics concern: It seems to me that for TPM to be reliable, both the facilitator and the client must be free from any theological error or psychological bias related to any content or process aspect of the TPM experience. This is true because of the exceptionally significant need for discernment involved.

If a person actually held this belief then it would only leave Jesus to do the ministry of the Church. All preachers must leave the pulpit and all members stop encouraging, teaching or admonishing each other lest we misquote or misuse the Scriptures. I believe that God figured in the human element when He called us to minister. Actually, God has been using fallible mankind for a long time to accomplish His ministry in this world. Here again as with several of your other questions the same standard would have to be held up for all other areas of ministry and counseling. It goes without saying that the more stable, mature and knowledgeable the minister the more effective his service may be. But perfection is holding the bar beyond reach.

Critic’s concern: Contrary to Smith’s suggestions, research indicates that emotions lead to thoughts and behaviors as well as thoughts and behaviors lead to emotions.

Ed Smith’s response: This is not contrary to me at all. It all depends on which end you start at. That is like saying that a road in Chicago leads to New York but not acknowledging that the same road in New York leads to Chicago. Thought and feelings are connected in many ways.

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