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Theophostic Counseling

theophostic counseling

Theophostic Counseling

Theophostic Counseling

Dr. Ed Smith's Theophostic Ministries


Theophostic counseling (which at first used to be written as "TheoPhostic Counseling") is, essentially, Agnes Sanford's inner healing in a new jacket. Theos = Greek for God. Phostic = Greek for light. Theophostic counseling is said to bring God's light into a given situation. Whereas traditional counseling is said to teach coping techniques to deal with painful experiences (now or in the past), the heart of Theophostic Counseling is that Jesus is invited to address the lies and false beliefs resulting from painful experiences.

Theophostic counseling is a theory pioneered by Dr. Ed Smith, a Christian therapist from Campbellsville, Kentucky, who ...

...saw the importance of not just addressing the memory, or its emotion, but the long-term lies that the memory held in place.
Source: Healing of the Memories, by John Edmiston

On its previous web site, Cornerstone Christian Counselling Centre (Canada), described Theophostic counseling as follows:

TheoPhostic counselling is a very Biblical, user friendly, effective method which taps into a counsellee's incorrect interpretations about experiences, brings God's Spirit into the beliefs the person has assigned to the event and reinterprets the memory according to the truths from God's Word.
Source: Cornerstone Christian Counselling Centre [Article no longer online], Canada (New URL for this organization)

Perhaps significantly (in terms of the effectiveness claims made for Theophostic Counseling), the same organization currently states that it uses a "blended approach," including Theophostic Counseling:

We use a method we call Prayer Counselling. Prayer Counselling is a blended approach which we gleaned from the foundational teaching of John and Paula Sandford (Elijah House) and numerous others: Kylstra's, Olson's, Payne's, Smith's (Theophostic), Anderson's, Kraft's, McNutt's and Ellel Ministries.

In correspondence with Dr. Smith - as well as in his workshop materials - he has denied that Theophostic Counseling is akin to inner healing. However, close examination shows both approaches to be very similar.

Though is it adamantly denied, Theophostic Counseling includes a form of guided imagery and visualization, the possible acceptance of recovered memories, and Dr. Smith's belief that Christians can be inhabited with demons.

Interestingly, the Theophostic Ministries website claims that its training program has been found ''to be highly effective with,'' among other things, so-called ''Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA).'' SRA is a highly controversial subject kept alive with fantasies, hoaxes and conspiracy theories. Thus Theophostic Counseling opens up the prospect of False Memory Syndrome.

Dr. Paul Simpson, of Tucson, Ariz., an accredited Christian family counselor, and author of "Second Thoughts: Understanding the False Memory Crisis and How It Could Affect You" (1996), calls Theophostic "pretty dangerous stuff."

"While recovered memory therapy has been completely debunked in the professional community, you've got this springing up from Ed Smith. And that's what it is: a dressed up version of recovered memory therapy," said Simpson.
Source: Controversial international ministry operates from Campbellsville, Central Kentucky News Journal, July 2, 2003


Christian A Biblical Evaluation of Theophostic MinistryOff-site Link, by the Staff of Community Evangelical Free Church, Elverson, Pennsylvania. • PDF version PDF file
Theophostic ministry has been the subject of much study, discussion and prayer by the CEFC Elder Board for nearly a year. As a result, we have concluded that we can neither actively nor passively endorse this approach to Christian ministry.
Christian A Few Words About Theophostic Counseling: Pastor to Pastor [No longer online] (Contra) By Rev. Fr. Kevin L. Baker. Note his remarks about the progression:
Our counseling ministry progressed from the standard Christian counseling materials such as Rapha's The Search for Significance and Minerth-Meir materials, to adding Neil Anderson's truth and deliverance approach, to the Elijah House prophetic prayer counseling (including having a ''prophet'' in to give people ''words'' at a cost of $300/night), to step groups, and finally degenerating into Theophostic Counseling.
Christian Deliverance Debate (Neutral) "Unconventional 'Theophostic' counseling cites results in rebutting its critics." Christianity Today, Feb. 5, 2001
Grey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Healing of the Memories (PRO) Article by John Edmiston, who has had a good experience with TheoPhostic Counseling.
Christian Inner Healing by Anton Hein
Christian The Sufficiency of Scripture over Theophostic Counseling
ChristianGrey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey TheoPhostic Counseling - Divine Revelation or PsychoHeresy? (Contra). Actually a link to a book, the first chapterPDF file of which can be read online. Note: the publishers of that article, PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, take a strong and unbalanced, anti-psychology stand. It's viewpoint on the issue of TheoPhostic Counseling can be seen in this newsletter article

• Books : Online
Christian Lying Spirits "A Christian Journalist's Report On TheoPhostic Ministry" by Jan Fletcher. An in-dept, well-documented online book. • PDF version PDF file

See Also


Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox TheoPhostic Ministries Dr. Smith's official web site.

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Theophostic Counseling
First posted: Aug. 1, 1997
Last Updated: Feb. 3, 2004
Editor: Anton Hein
Copyright: Apologetics Index
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