[Editor’s Note: Everyone has mental health experiences on the spectrum between thriving and struggling. Perhaps you (or a friend) are in a season where you need extra mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical support. In this #mentalhealth series we want to balance personal experience/story with input from mental health and medical professionals. We want to also explore, “How does our faith in Jesus relate to our mental health?” Our desire is to support you as you work towards mental well-being.
If you are considering hurting yourself or someone else, or you know someone who is, please contact a mental health emergency hotline. If you need urgent counselling support, Kids Help Phone is also available for young adults up to age 29 for phone calls, Facebook Messenger, or texting conversations.
Written by Tara Boyce. Tara has been practising clinician for almost twenty years. She earned a BA in Psychology from Trinity Western University in 2000 and a Masters in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2002 with a focus on individuals, couples, families, and groups. Since 2004, she has worked with By Peaceful Waters as a therapist serving individuals, children, and families using a variety of modalities and treatment practices geared to each client. She focuses her training in the areas of attachment, trauma, and emotionally focused therapy. She has also been trained in theophostic prayer counselling for inner healing and generational work.]
Have you ever reacted too strongly to something, where your emotions seemed out of place?
Can you think of a time where you felt emotionally paralyzed or numb?
You may have experienced an emotional trigger from a past traumatic experience.
When a present situation is similar enough to a past traumatic experience, it can trigger deep emotions, and our reaction may be out of proportion to the circumstance. We may start to question why our feelings are so overwhelming or why we are stuck in a cycle of self-destructive behaviours. We may feel we are lost and don’t truly understand ourselves.
The good news is that there is a way to heal. There can be a way out of painful feelings. By inviting Jesus into our memories, through theophostic prayer counselling, he meets us in some of our deepest wounds.
Theophostic prayer counselling is an option to facilitate healing when there is difficulty establishing clear memories of a painful event. It invites God (“theo”) to bring the truth to light (“phostic”). It is a tool that creates a real experience of shedding layers of loss and false identity to build healthy attachments instead. Brain research has shown that we heal best in the context of experience, which happens in the right brain. Prayer counselling uses the right brain and offers deliverance from the emotional power of lies or pain. The recipient learns the truth experientially, in a manner similar to how the lies were implanted in their minds in the first place. As someone who helps facilitate this kind of prayer, it is truly remarkable to journey with someone as they discover the intimacy of Jesus. He was with them in their painful experiences and he is with them in their healing.
Please note: This method of counselling should only be entered in the context of a safe, trusting relationship with a trained practitioner.
Since our emotional foundations are formed by our early life experiences that are often outside of our conscious memory, going back in time is where we can find healing. Truth needs to be interjected into those memories. That’s something only God, who transcends time and space, can accomplish.
Prayer healing involves asking God to help us submit to the logical and spiritual process of going back to the root memory. We ask in confidence that he will give us the wisdom, understanding and discernment we need. He gives us visions, words of knowledge and inner feelings, and reveals how we are to proceed through the process.
To begin a prayer counselling session, it’s important that the recipient has an understanding of prayer ministry and how it will look, so they feel safe and are not caught off guard by the process. The first step is to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Aligning with Jesus out loud and binding any demonic interference is a clear way to make known the boundary with the enemy. There is incredible power in the name of Jesus and in stating aloud that Satan is to step aside and be rendered deaf, dumb, and blind.
The Holy Spirit is invited into the session. Then with his help, the recipient is asked to go with Jesus to an earlier memory when they felt the feeling they are experiencing today. This is what makes prayer ministry unlike other therapies or theories. There are no known answers before asking the question. The facilitator does not have to figure out where these emotions originated. Both the facilitator and the recipient are relying on the Holy Spirit to lead them to the place they need to go. Since he knows us perfectly, we can be sure he knows exactly where the present problem originated. This places the responsibility for the healing on the one who is infallible and has the power to heal as well as the love to lead us with his gentleness.
Going to the memory can be painful. A safe, trusting relationship between the counsellor and the recipient is key to gauge the impact of the memory and if needed, to pause the experience. Often the recipient has been playing wrong interpretations of the memory in their subconscious every day, so the opportunity to be led into truth brings freedom. While in the memory, the recipient is asked to describe what they are sensing and feeling. The counsellor asks Jesus to reveal any negative conclusions they came to believe about themselves due to that particular memory. These negative conclusions were not the truth, but counterfeits. Because they were accepted as the truth, they hold a lot of power in the person’s life.
Once the lies are exposed, it is imperative that they are replaced with the truth. It can be helpful to have the recipient personally invite Jesus into the memory. The intimacy of this interaction is what can bring about a profound shift in thinking about their identity. Jesus coming to them in one of their most painful moments can change the course of the future and be the start of knowing who they truly are as a child of God.
Through prayer counselling and healing, we can experience the reality that Jesus was with us in our painful experiences and he is with us in our healing.