Theophostic Prayer Ministry in Clinical Practice: Issues and Concerns

By Hunter, Linda A.; Yarhouse, Mark A. | Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Theophostic Prayer Ministry in Clinical Practice: Issues and Concerns


Hunter, Linda A., Yarhouse, Mark A., Journal of Psychology and Christianity


Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM) has been used in pastoral care settings for almost ten years and has quickly spread from the church setting into other arenas from which Christian licensed psychologists operate. While TPM appears to be a viable model for some Christian psychologists, others suggest that there are many critical concerns with the use of TPM that must first be addressed before moving forward and implementing the intervention in a licensed clinical setting. The concerns selected for this discussion will include TPM training requirements; the offering of TPM as a form of counseling; reoccurring emotions after receiving TPM; claims that TPM is maintenance free and the ensuing theological concerns; and the status of current research.

Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM) has been used in pastoral care settings for over ten years and Smith (personal communication, March 26, 2004) states that this is the setting for which he envisioned TPM as it came to fruition. Regardless of Smith's vision, TPM appears to be a model being used or considered for use by some Christian psychologists struggling to provide services to individuals desiring integrative treatment (Hardy, personal communication, April 05, 2004; Lehman, CAPS International Conference, Panel discussion, April 7, 2005; Meadows, personal communication February 23, 2004). Other Christian psychologists suggest that there are many critical concerns with the use of TPM that must first be addressed before moving forward and implementing the intervention in a licensed clinical setting (Entwistle, 2004a, 2004b, CAPS International Conference, Panel discussion, April 7, 2005; Maier & Monroe, 2003; Monroe, CAPS International Conference, Panel discussion, April 7, 2005).

It is hoped that the discussion to follow will shed light on a few on the critical concerns that have been discussed in Christian circles, published in recent literature, and presented at various conventions. The intent of this discussion is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular viewpoint or to choose sides but rather the intent is to present factual information that will give the Christian psychologist the tools by which he or she can make an informed decision regarding the viability of TPM for clinical use in a selected setting. The concerns selected for this discussion will include TPM training requirements; the offering of TPM as a form of counseling; reoccurring emotions after receiving TPM; claims that TPM is maintenance free and the ensuing theological concerns; and the status of current research.

Training Requirements

Smith (2005b) put forth a Basic Seminar Manual as a guideline for becoming equipped to apply the principles of TPM in ministry sessions. He suggested that twelve to sixteen weeks be allowed to study the manual if the trainee is part of a group training experience. Smith also conducts Basic Training Seminars in which individuals in a group setting may watch Basic Training Videos and then witness in vivo demonstrations by those selected to lead the seminars. Once the Basic Seminar Manual has been completed the individual may contact the Theophostic headquarters, give indication that he or she has successfully completed the study of the training manual, and subsequently receive a seal to place on the Certificate of Completion that came with the training packet. At the bottom of the Certificate of Completion one will find the following statement: "This certificate does not certify, qualify or credential its holder with any level of expertise in administering Theophostic Ministry but rather signifies their completion of training" (Smith, personal communication, September 29, 2005).

Those sympathetic to TPM basically agree with Smith in that the Basic Training Seminar is necessary as a starting point for training to facilitate TPM but not sufficient in and of itself to qualify one to practice TPM (Hardy, personal communication, April 05, 2004; Meadows, personal communication February 23, 2004). …

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