Intro to Immanuel Approach

The Immanuel Approach is a form of interactive prayer developed primarily by a Christian psychiatrist named Dr Karl Lehman in the early 2000’s as a means to help people find emotional healing by first helping people establish an experiential awareness of God’s presence in positive memories and then in negative memories. By coaching a person through a simple process most people are able to fairly easily, safely, and consistently establish this interactive connection with God. As people maintain this interactive awareness with God and describe what God seems to be doing, showing, or communicating, they tend to experience an increase in peace, clarity, joy, rest, and feeling significant to God, as well as increasing confidence to honestly engage with God about both what they appreciate and what upsets them. This interaction tends to lead to increased peace and often to the resolution of unprocessed past and current experiences. The Immanuel Approach has since been applied in many other settings and cultures including spiritual direction, pastoral care, church small groups, large group settings, discernment conversations, church services, and a myriad of other ways. The objective of the approach, according to Dr Lehman, has shifted from ‘healing’ as the primary goal to ‘deeper intimacy with God’ as the primary goal and healing as one of the subsequent outcomes that often accompanies a sustained interactive connection with God. There are many thousand people around the world who have some experience with the Immanuel Approach or who facilitate or train others in it and this number is growing rapidly. Michael Schaefer and Andy Ross have both been trained in the Immanuel Approach by Dr Lehman and we integrate it heavily into our training groups and workshops. The following video provides a more thorough introduction to the Immanuel Approach along with a simple guided exercise that groups or individuals can practice as they watch the video together.

Additional explanation and ideas about how to use this video with groups:

This guided introduction to the Immanuel Approach for Emotional Healing and For Life is presented by Andy Ross, a clinical counselor who has been facilitating Immanuel Approach sessions and trainings since 2007. The Immanuel Approach is a model of prayer designed to help people simply and safely establish an interactive connection with God in order to receive from God and share with God at a depth that really reaches the heart and not just the mind. The Immanuel Approach is also a model of prayer that works well for building community among friends, small groups, and faith communities. Immanuel is a Hebrew word that means “God with us” and that reality affects everything. In the words of Dr Karl Lehman the primary developer of the Immanuel Approach, coming into an interactive awareness of God’s presence is not only possible in these kinds of special set aside prayer times, but can become the normal way we live our daily lives.

The vision for this video is to create a simple, relational, safe, instructive introduction to the Immanuel Approach that anyone can share with anyone as a way of introducing them to the Immanuel Approach and this type of interactive prayer.

The video is designed to be watched by groups and includes simple, optional guided exercises that can be practiced in small groups. The ideal group size for practicing the exercises 3-5 people though it can also be used with a friend or spouse that you feel safe with. If you have a large room full of people watching the video you can easily just break into smaller groups of 3 to 5 to practice the exercises. No previous experience is needed and the exercises are designed to be simple and safe.

We request that each viewer take responsibility for their own choice to participate in the exercises. In our experience, there tend to be very few negative experiences with these simple exercises which are basically sharing a memory of a time when one felt peaceful and asking what God would like to share now that will give even more peace. Please remember that these exercises need to be completely optional for everyone and please feel free to skip them if it does not feel like the right exercise or the right time for you. Also, please make sure you have good sources of support such as a mature friend, counselor, or prayer minister in the unusual event that strong negative feelings or emotions come forward.

If you watch the video and do the exercises it will probably take about 60-90 minutes depending on how many people you have in your groups and how much time you want to take to debrief. I would recommend taking time to debrief at the end as well. If you debrief at the end and are short on time, you may opt to skip the 14 minutes of extra commentary at the end. For additional thoughts and resources, please visit our website:

KARL LEHMAN: As outlined more clearly in the video, Dr Karl Lehman, a Christian psychiatrist is credited as the primary developer of the Immanuel Approach. His website is

DR JAMES WILDER: The video also mentions Dr James (Jim) Wilder a colleague of Dr Lehman who developed the Passing the Peace exercise included in this video. More can be learned about him at

IMMANUEL JOURNALING: An exercise based heavily on the Immanuel Approach called Immanuel Journaling can be learned about here.

FURTHER TRAINING BY THE PRESENTER ANDY ROSS: Andy Ross along with his colleague Michael Schaefer a counselor from Australia offer regular Immanuel Approach and related trainings which can be found at

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