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The Inner Healing Movement refers to a grassroots counseling movement among Christians of various denominations. Its methods are largely based around the calling up of suppressed or hurtful memories in order to deal with them. Practitioners in the movement may not always have formal training in counseling or psychology. Christian psychologist and academic Fernando Garzon views this in a positive light, saying: " may serve people who might not get help otherwise, cannot afford professional therapy, do not wish to use insurance, or have access to counseling limited by managed care. Others belong to churches in which the pastor is either are not trained, not interested, or not available (due to having too many other pastoral duties) to meet the needs for pastoral counseling. Still others simply may trust lay people, whom they know, more than a therapist, whom they do not know. In addition, the training itself may benefit the lay counselors spiritually and emotionally."[1]

Agnes Sanford (1897–1982) is considered to be the mother of the Inner Healing Movement, and with her husband founded The Agnes Sanford School of Pastoral Care in 1958.[2] She was the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary in China, and the wife of an Episcopal rector. Her first book, The Healing Light, is considered classic in its field. Agnes is the mother of Jungian analyst, Jack Sanford.

The inner healing movement is also often compared and associated with Inner Healing and Healing of Memories. Other people who feature prominently in its history are Ruth Carter Stapleton[3], Leanne Payne, and Charles Fillmore. A number of organizations are currently active, including Elijah House, Ministries of Pastoral Care[4], and Sozo Ministry. Another important part of Christian Inner Healing Methods is the active involvement of God in the healing work taking place. The belief that God heals both physical and mental problems is a long-standing Christian belief, originating in traditional Jewish beliefs.

In recent years, Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM) techniques in particular have become popular amongst some Christian counselors. Others however, believe TPM is potentially dangerous, with some of its underlying principles being compared with those of Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT).[5] In the Journal of Psychology and Theology, Spring 2004, Christian psychologist David Entwistle summarised some concerns associated with Theophostic methods: 'TPM follows in the lineage of "healing of memory" techniques, though it departs from that lineage in a number of important respects. Numerous concerns exist surrounding insufficient attempts to ground TPM in biblical concepts; inadequate and often flawed explanations of basic psychological processes; dubious claims about the prevalence of DID, SRA, and demonic activity; estimates of traumatic abuse that exceed empirical findings; and the failure to sufficiently appreciate the possibility of iatrogenic memory contamination.'[6] While these are valid concerns, and have been found to be problematic in some situations, especially with the highly suggestible, TPM has had a measure of effectiveness in helping people work through their traumatic histories.

In Australia, a psychologist was found guilty of malpractice for using Theophostic methods in 2006 by the Queensland Health Practitioners Tribunal. The tribunal found that Irene Moreau, who practiced from a Christian counselling centre in Brisbane, 'inappropriately used Theophostic Prayer Ministry as a counselling technique'.[7]



  • Agnes Sanford, The healing power of the Bible, (1974) Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 0340182172
  • Ruth Carter Stapleton, The Experience of Inner Healing, (1979) Bantam Books ISBN 0553120476
  • Charles Fillmore, Prosperity, Book Tree ISBN 1585092940
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