Dr. Smith often answers individual questions sent to him regarding TPM. For those of you who do not receive the questions sent out each week, here is a recent one. I want to comment on it after Ed does.
“In the Basic Seminar Manual you say, “If you encounter what you suspect might be Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) it is best that you encourage the person to seek additional help from others more qualified. As I have overstated, unless you have had training in this area and are qualified to make an accurate diagnosis, it is best that you refer the person to others who are. It is perfectly acceptable for you to say to the person, with whom you are ministering, ‘I really am not qualified to help you beyond this point, but I will try to find someone who is.’ At the same time this is not to say that you should not continue ministry with such a person but it is best that you are not the only one involved.” So Dr. Ed are you following your own advice and refer those you have worked with to others qualified and trained in DID? Or are you qualified yourself to work and minister to them?
Ed Smiths response: I am not qualified to make a professional diagnosis of a person’s condition and therefore I never do. I am not qualified to provide a medical or psychological treatment plan for a person suffering from DID so I don’t. In the early years of offering TPM I was ministering in a very remote and small town in central Kentucky where my access to professional referral was very limited. I was however, networked to the mental health community in other parts of the country but had little to no mental health people available locally. I did try to refer people to mental health professionals in other cities when people were willing to travel to receive additional help. Many did not have the financial means to travel to other cities or pay the fee for service that would have been expected of them. So practically speaking, most did not seek out other’s help where financial investment was required. Sometimes it is easy to say that people should always seek out professional mental health as opposed to seeing a pastor or lay minister when complex issues are present. The problem is, people are not always willing to do this nor able to do this due to location and financial problems. There are many areas in our country where poverty does not allow people to receive professional care and especially from a Christian perspective. Most states provide some form of state aided mental health care but this is strictly secular and not founded on any thing biblical. When I was offering pastoral counseling (prior to TPM) I charged (mostly donation) for the sessions I offered people. However, shortly after developing TPM I stopped charging a fee and only ministered without asking for payment. I think this made it all the more difficult for people to go to a fee based mental health professional. Nevertheless, I did not provide diagnosis for people’s conditions.
Sometimes it was obvious there was some measure of dissociation as the person might switch from one alter presentation to another or manifest many of the classical signs of dissociation. Even in these situations I found that prayer ministry could still be applied apart from the diagnosis. Where I live now I have many mental health professionals near by. There are three that attend my church and who are practicing TPM in some measure.
Nevertheless, even though I do not provide mental health care as a professional, I am qualified as a member of the Body of Christ to pray, encourage and intercede spiritually for any person in any condition. I am not qualified to treat DID using psychoanalysis, drug therapy or other professional approaches. However, doing prayer ministry with a person is not the same as what a mental or medical health professional might do. In this context, experience has taught me to become much networked with both mental and medical health professionals so that I can rely upon when needed for the non-spiritual benefits that they offer.
When I offer TPM I am doing what the mental health and medical health provider typically do not do. My 12 years of doing TPM with many dissociated people has taught me that dissociation is a defense that is usually based upon lie-based thinking. I do feel that I am qualified and experienced in the area of helping people identify the lies that they believe and have a Biblical mandate to do this. Do I refer people to medical and mental health professionals for their mental and medical health issues? Yes I do if this is possible. However, if this is not available to me I still provide prayer ministry. When ever I can I seek to work in cooperative unity with the mental health professional since I bring a different ingredient to the table that is spiritual. My role is to help people to connect with the person of Christ. This is why I concluded the statement you quoted above with that it “is not to say that you should not continue ministry with such a person but it is best that you are not the only one involved.”
Question 2. As a ministry facilitator, I am not qualified and want to know if you know what I need to do if I want to be qualified working with someone who suffer from DID?
Ed Smith: If you want to be qualified to do mental or medical health treatment then you will need to go to school, get a degree and become licensed and credentialed to do so. If you want to learn how to minister and pray with dissociated people I have tried to share what I know in the 2007 Basic Seminar Manual. Please understand that what I know is limited knowledge concerning dissociation and there are probably other sources that could help you as well. However, this information is not about diagnosing, advice-giving, or about developing a long term treatment plan, but only how to help people to identify falsehood and connect with Christ in the context of possible dissociation.
Back many years ago I was much more concerned about understanding the ins and outs of dissociation. Part of what I taught in the Advanced was far too complicated and gave out way too much information. I was working with all of the alters, trying to name them, identify roles, map out the system, etc. Now, I am much more simplistic. I recognize that dissociation and multiplicity is a mental reality but it is still rooted in the belief and choice of the person. The dissociative walls and amnesic barriers are held in place by belief that is contrary to exposing and owning what is held there. Herein I do the same basic work; help the person to identify what it is he believes that is producing the defensive stance. Sometimes alters come out and create resistance. Nevertheless, the resistance is about what is believed by the person. I never lose sight of the fact that there is only one person with one mind sitting in the chair across from me. All the belief is held by one person not a multitude. Fragmentation/multiplicity is a defensive deception that allows a person to remain in denial about what he or she actually knows but is choosing not to disclose. The presence of an alter system is evidence that there is something that is known at some level but consciously being denied. If the person truly could not remember what they say they cannot remember then there would be no need for the dissociation. It is the stance of dissociation that is keeping the person from consciously knowing what they know. As the lies contrary to remembering are identified and truth is received these defenses go down, alters retreat and the person moves forward toward release.
Question 3. It is too late for me to abandon the lady I am working with that has evidence of DID?
Ed Smith’s response: You do not need to nor should you abandon her. However, you may need to refer her to a mental health professional and you work as a secondary person following his or her direction. At the same time you are not required to continue to see her for the rest of your life. However, it might be troublesome if you just suddenly dropped her. A better way might be to provide her a scheduled number of remaining sessions (for example 5 more over the course of 2.5 months) with the understanding that the fifth visit will be the final one. You will want to have a plan in place where she will have another person taking over at that time. You can make locating this new person partially her responsibility as well. If you decide to continue providing ministry then find a mental health provider that will be first in line ahead of you. I strongly encourage people to never go it alone with people who are deeply emotionally wounded where this is possible to do. However, if she is not willing to see a mental health professional then something is wrong. You should never be her “only hope.” Beware. Know that when you insist, this person may react to your referring her and even turn on you. Cover all of your bases; let the transition be as smooth as possible. Let the reason be that you simply are not capable of providing her with all the care that she needs. Be sure that the mental health professional is aware of what you are handing off. Be careful that you do not present what she has reported in memory as “fact” but only as what it is – her reality. You can share with the mental health provided your opinions but not as your diagnosis.
Question 4. I was actually thinking of letting her present her journey thus far at a ministry camp for those practicing TPM at our campsite and to follow that with intern training based on your advanced training model where we invite one or two people interested in being equipped in working with DID to spend a week with us as we minister to her. Do you think that this would be wise? What did you learn from your own experiences in this regard?
Ed Smith response: I would NOT have her give her testimony at this time. I would wait. I have done this and then was later surprised to discover that the person was not near as far along as she reported. This is very risky and you never know what is still beneath the surface when working with deeply traumatized people. As far as inviting a few people to watch you minister; if you will be doing things that go beyond what is taught in the Basic Training Seminar and are inconsistent with the Ministry Session Guidelines then do not call what you are doing Theophostic or advertise it as such. The only training that this ministry endorses is what is distributed by this ministry organization (New Creation Publishing.) I am no longer teaching what is on the Level 2 Advanced series and would not want you to promote this older materials. People are not allowed to use the name Theophostic on any training that is not an actual TPM training. If what you are doing goes beyond presenting the Basic training Seminar DVDs or beyond the study of the Basic training texts then do not call it TPM training. Please adhere to this request. It is very important that people are getting TPM from the same source. What you choose to use and teach others is of course your on decision, however please only attach the name Theophostic to that which is truly Theophostic.
Question 5. Lastly since I as well as the person I work with, have already done the Advanced Level 2 series, we find it very difficult to make the transition to not call out her alters. To tell you the truth I do not know how I will approach the initial testing with someone who suffers from DID without initially talking past the presenting host and inviting the alter system to either make themselves known to her or to come out right past her and acknowledge that reality if indeed it exists?
Ed Smith’s response: What you are practicing is what I used to do but no longer do. However, when you make an assumption by “calling out an alter” that may or may not be there, you are risking the potential of making an incorrect diagnosis. You said that you will not know how to “test” to see if a person is DID or not. Here is where you send the person to a qualified mental health professional who can make this diagnosis for you. If they come back with a diagnosis of DID you can work within that framework. You do not want to be accused of “creating” a condition. I have found that allowing the journey to be the responsibility of the person is much more effective. I no longer feel stress or anxiety if a person is stuck, can’t move forward etc. I no longer feel a need to “test” to see what they are. At some level they already know what they are and also know everything else that resides inside of their heads. Sometimes we arrive at a wrong conclusion that the “host” is a victim to the dissociated condition. Keep in mind again that there is only one mind, one person, one body. If she is dissociated then the host is playing a cooperative part in maintaining it. I work with whatever they choose to present. If they present with an alter, I work with the alter, if the host only comes out I work with this. I let it be totally the person’s choosing. I avoid all things that are directional in intent. If I start asking for an alter to come out, I am projecting my assumption onto the person. At some level they know they have alters or not. If they choose to expose this they will. I am okay with people being fully responsible for what happens or does not happen in a session. You really do not need to go looking for alters or anything else. I see the same thing happening when people make demon assumptions. When a person gets stuck, sees a “demon picture” or something else that cannot be explained, out comes the facilitator’s spiritual warfare sword. There is so much “deliverance” that is totally uncalled for. Let whatever happens, happen. People really know where they need to go, do, remember, feel etc. at some level. Just because they say, “I don’t know” does not mean they do not know. Help people to identify what they feel, identify any hesitancy or resistance to move forward, identify the belief behind it all and move toward Christ.
You can just as easily address any alters that may or may not be there by simply asking the person to listen to their own thoughts as you ask your questions. However, you need not ask the question “Do you have any alters?” Questions such as “What do you believe might happen if…” or “Do you feel any hesitation or resistance to…? will be heard by any alters in tune with what is going on. There is only one mind in the person you are working with. You do not have to have the alter “come out” to communicate with the fragmentation of the person’s mind. If it is there then it hears you. Simply ask your questions and have the host listen inside.
Question 6. I speak to the Host and she reports for example that she cannot move into the memory because she believes alter X is not willing to let her. Do I address alter X directly to help her to identify the guardian lie OR am I to believe that people really can figure this out on their own, identify alters, lies etc.? What if she says she thinks alter X needs to come out and share? Do I then call alter X out or not?
Ed Smith’s response: If the person says, “I think I have an alter blocking the way…etc” My response will be something like, “What do you want to do?” Or “What do you think needs to happen?” Or “You decide what you need to do here.” I do not ask for anything to come out or be revealed, but let it all be her decision. The truth is people know what needs to happen, where they need to go, what they need to remember, feel, and know. It is just a matter of them figuring it out and making the decision to do it. No one knows better what is going on inside of the person’s head than the person. Your role is to help them to identify what it is they believe that has them stuck.
Avoid making an assumption about a person’s condition (DID, etc.) and then projecting this onto the person. Never ask the person to go look for something, or try speaking to an alter that may or may not be there. Let whatever happens happen. I do think that it is possible to rush a person ahead of where they are ready to go when we make assumptions such as this. Let whatever happens occur in its own time. This is respecting the person’s free will choice in the matter.
Finally, if you do not have a copy of the 2007 edition of the Basic Seminar Manual (not the older Beyond Tolerable recovery) go to www.theophostic.com to obtain it. I say much about this in that new edition.
I hope that this helps
I tend to agree with Ed’s approach to alters, that is that we do not force them to the surface. It all depends if the person has an externalized alter or an internalized alter. An externalized alter will change the person’s personality to match the alter’s traits. The internalized alter will speak to the primary personality and they must report what is being said. In either case, allow whichever alter is there to surface on its own. Do not try and force it to.