As a mental health professional, can I bill insurance for Immanuel approach sessions?

An increasing number of mental health professionals have been asking questions along the lines of “Is it appropriate/acceptable/legal to bill insurance for Immanuel approach sessions?” As a psychiatrist, I bill Immanuel approach sessions as psychotherapy; and if anyone asks me to defend this practice, I honestly describe the Immanuel approach to emotional healing as a faith-based psychotherapy that incorporates many of the key principles and techniques from mainstream psychotherapies, including those that are most strongly supported by empirical research (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)). For example:

Recognizing that distorted, negative cognitions can be anchored in traumatic memories (the result of failing to successfully complete the level 5 processing task of interpreting the meaning of the painful experience), recognizing that these distorted, negative cognitions are very disruptive, and deliberately working to resolve these distorted negative cognitions are important principles and objectives in both cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and EMDR.

Establishing a “safe place” to go back to, as a psychotherapy safety net, is a technique used in EMDR (and in many other psychotherapy approaches that focus especially on resolving psychological trauma).

Helping people learn to recognize when they are being impaired by intense negative emotions, and training them to use calming tools (such as those described in Outsmarting Yourself) to help decrease the intensity of negative emotions when they notice that they are being impaired, is a technique used in cognitive behavioral psychotherapy.

Deliberately helping people to connect with painful memories, and then helping them calm in the context of the memories using interpersonal connection (with both myself and Jesus), and relaxation tools (such as the calming tools described in Outsmarting Yourself) is consistent with exposure therapy (and this is also consistent with many other psychotherapy approaches that focus especially on resolving psychological trauma).

Deliberately helping a person to successfully process past painful experiences that have been carried as traumatic memories is one of the central objectives of EMDR (and of most other psychotherapy approaches that focus especially on resolving psychological trauma).

For additional discussion of using the Immanuel approach in the context of a professional psychotherapy practice, see “The Place of Immanuel/Theophostic-based Emotional Healing In the Treatment of Clinical Disorders.” For additional discussion of the shared principles and techniques between the Immanuel approach and EMDR, see The Immanuel Approach, Theophostic, & EMDR: F.A.Q.’s and Common Misunderstandings.” (Both of these essays are available as free downloads from

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