The Three P’s of Fatherhood

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters, today I have been asked to talk about the importance of Father’s as we celebrate those men in our lives who have exemplified this essential role in the plan of Salvation.  I will begin with a brief overview of some of the research that demonstrates the important roles that Father’s play in their children’s lives.  I will then outline what God has revealed concerning this vital role through the scriptures and his authorized servants. I will use our Heavenly Father as the perfect example of a Father that we can all learn from.

Honoring and obeying our parents is so important that it is one of the ten commandments. In Exodus 20: 12 the Lord declares: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”  On Father’s Day, we can reflect upon how well we have kept this commandment and whether setting goals to better honor our Father’s might be appropriate.  Proverbs 13: 1 teaches: “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”

The Research

The importance of Fatherhood has been confirmed through the work of social scientists over the past few decades.  Researchers tend to look at the effects of engaged father figures vs disengaged or absent Father figures.  Engaged Fathers tend to demonstrate the following three behaviors: They have direct contact with and share interactions with their children (engaged).  Second, they are present, accessible and available to the child.  And three, they take responsibility and connect the child with resources for their development.   (

Play has been shown to be an especially important behavior that Father’s perform with their kids, just as nurturing is to mothers.  Play is stimulating and allows the child to experience and regulate a range of different emotions.  It also helps them learn healthy boundaries in a safe environment.

An actively engaged father is also associated with enhanced cognitive development in children.    In one study, infants as young as 5 months old scored higher on measures of cognitive development if they had an actively engaged father.  Toddlers have been shown to have better problem solving abilities and by the age of 3 children with engaged Fathers even show higher IQ than their peers.

Having an actively engaged Father also predicts greater social and emotional development as well.   The research shows that these children are better able to tolerate stress and have more control over their emotions and impulses. One particular study found that children with engaged Fathers displayed greater capacity for empathy than their peers.

One researcher describes the effects of engaged Father’s on young adults’ lives in this way: “As young adults, people who had nurturing and available fathers tend to be better adjusted, dependable, and friendly, and they report higher levels of self-acceptance. They’re more tolerant and understanding and have more supportive, long-term, close friendships.”

“Father-child relationships even affect a person’s future marriage. People who had involved fathers are more likely to have long-term, successful marriage and less divorce.  In fact, the quality of the father-child relationship is the single variable that is most consistently linked to positive life outcomes.” outlines some of the following statistics:  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. Father absence has been linked o nearly every social ill that exists in society today.

Researchers Alen and Daly describe some of the outcomes associated with not having an actively engaged Father: “Boys, on average, are more likely to be more unhappy, sad, depressed, dependent, and hyperactive. Girls … are more likely to become overly dependant and have internalizing problems such as anxiety and depression.”

For example, those who grow up without a Father in the home are four times more likely to live in poverty, 7x more likely to become pregnant as teens, more likely to face abuse and neglect, more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, go to prison,  commit crime and drop out of school.

The Family Proclamation

In the Family: A Proclamation to the World, we learn of the roles that Father’s perform in the Plan of Salvation.  The Proclamation Reads:  “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World.)

In other words, a Father’s duties can be summarized by the three P’s: Protecting, Presiding and Providing.  Each of these three duties will be examined in more detail but first I would like to emphasize the importance of the Family Proclamation.  President Dallin H. Oaks has suggested that our attitude towards the beliefs outlined in the proclamation are a sign of one’s standing before God.  The more out of alignment one is with the proclamation, the further one is from God.  President Oaks said:

“I testify that the proclamation on the family is a statement of eternal truth, the will of the Lord for His children who seek eternal life…Forty years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “every generation has its tests and its chance to stand and prove itself.” I believe our attitude toward and use of the family proclamation is one of those tests for this generation. I pray for all Latter-day Saints to stand firm in that test.” (Dallin H. Oaks-The Plan and the Proclamation)

Thus, on this day, we especially honor those men who have chosen to magnify their divine callings to protect, provide and preside over their families.  This is not a day in which we celebrate men but is a day in which we celebrate Father’s as not all men create families and fulfill their roles of protecting, providing and presiding over those families.  Those who do fulfill this role are truly deserving of honor.  When considering the roles that Father’s fulfill, it is important to remember the words of Elder D. Todd Christofferson who taught: “We know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.” (Fathers – D. Todd Christofferson)

When considering the importance and power of Fathers, the best example that I can think of is the example given to us by our Heavenly Father who performs this role flawlessly in our lives.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught:

“The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children. Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust.” (Fathers – D. Todd Christofferson)

The Psalmist declared that God is a “Father of the Fatherless.” Hosea said that “In thee…the fatherless findeth mercy.” (Hosea 14:3)   And James said that: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Now, let’s look at each of these three P’s in more detail, using our Heavenly Father’s as a perfect example to emulate.



First, a Father is responsible for presiding over his family.  Elder Theodore Tuttle has taught:  “In reality, each family is a dominion within itself. Father heads that government. In the beginning it was the only government on the earth and was passed down from Adam to his descendants. Properly organized in the Church, the father is the patriarch of an eternal family unit. Heaven, to us, will be simply an extension of an ideal home. As the presiding priesthood officer, the father fills an irreplaceable role.” (Theodore Tuttle-The Role of the Father)

The Family Proclamation teaches us that Father’s preside over their families in love and righteousness.  To preside means to give direction and guidance from a place of legitimate authority.  This legitimate authority to preside comes from God Himself as the Family Proclamation declares that the Father’s role has been given “by divine design.”

We are also taught in the proclamation that Father’s are to preside through love and righteousness.  The scriptures teach us that love is about sacrificing for the long-term well-being of another individual.  For example, in 1 John 4: 9 we learn that God’s love is manifested unto us through the sacrifice of His son.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Father’s emulate God and manifest their love for their families when they sacrifice that which is most precious to them including their time, talents and resources to foster the ultimate well-being of their families.

To be righteous is to live in accordance with God’s law and to be obedient to Him.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie has taught “Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest. It consists in compliance with divine law, in conformity to the mind and will of Deity, in complete subjection to God and his commands” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 539).

Thus, Father’s are expected to Preside through sincere sacrifice for their family’s temporal and eternal well-being and through living in accordance with God’s law and His will as revealed through the Holy Spirit, scriptures and priesthood authorities.

There is also a certain spirit and style that the scriptures teach us that a Father should Preside in. In D&C 121: 41-44  we read:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.

In other words, Fathers will preside primarily by using persuasion rather than force.  By being long-suffering towards the sins and weaknesses of family members rather than being impatient and giving up on them.  Father’s will be gentle and meek rather than harsh and proud. They will also demonstrate a genuine love for family members as shown through kindness and sacrifice.  When appropriate, the Father will also correct his children quickly and clearly but then show forth an increase in love.

President Howard W. Hunter warns Father’s who do not preside righteously in the following way:

“By divine appointment, the responsibility to preside in the home rests upon the priesthood holder (see Moses 4:22). The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership. Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters. For a man to operate independent of or without regard to the feelings and counsel of his wife in governing the family is to exercise unrighteous dominion” (“Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 50–51).

And D&C 121: 31-36 teaches us that once we exercise unrighteous dominion, we lose the power and authority God gave us and the Spirit of the Lord withdraws.

Another key element of presiding is providing teaching or guidance to our children. The scriptures exhort parents to teach their children the law of God.  In Psalms 78: 5-7 it is written: “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Psalms 78:5-7)

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)  In the Book of Mormon, Alma tried to teach his son wisdom on his youth.  He said: “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.” (Alma 37: 35)

This function of parenting is so crucial that the Lord has revealed that if parents fail to teach their children the gospel then the sins of the children we be upon the neglectful parents head.  D&C 68: 25 reads: “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25)

The second major duty outlined in the scriptures is to train and discipline your children.  This is one of the major themes found in the book of Proverbs which teaches:  “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)  God is the perfect example of a Father, who chastens His children when they need to be chastened.  The author of Proverbs teaches: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:  For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3: 11-12)

In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul reinforces this principle and suggests that we should accept chastening and correction from God who does so for our benefit because we are His children.  He says that discipline is never enjoyed in the moment but is necessary for long-term improvement. (Heb 12: 5-11)

Proverbs further teaches us to discipline our children, even though they may protest and even dislike you for it: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” (Proverbs 19:18)

If you discipline your children, you will save them from a literal and metaphorical hell:  “Withhold not correction from the child and thou shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23: 13-14)

Disciplining children is far more effective than disciplining adults as the brain and body are more malleable at a younger age.  Proverbs 22: 6 declares: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Parents need to train children because they are naturally foolish and need guidance from adults.  Children do not just automatically know how to behave but need to be taught by their parents.  Proverbs 22: 15 teaches: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

The consequences of failing to discipline children are outlined in the story of Eli and his sons. God cursed Eli’s house partly because Eli was a permissive parent.  1 Sam 3: 13 records: “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” (1 Sam 3: 13)



Second, Father’s are responsible to provide for their families.  Our Heavenly Father provides for our needs through the abundant earth that He has created for us.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples that God would provide for them.  In Matt 6: 28-33 the Lord teaches:

“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin summarized this duty to provide as follows:

“And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God…But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:14-15)

In the D&C we also learn that women and children have claim upon their Fathers and husbands for support: D&C 83: 2-4 reads: “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken…All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”

This duty is so serious that the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that those that do not provide for their families have denied the faith.  Paul wrote: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim 5:8)


And third, Father’s are tasked with the divine role of protecting their families from all kinds of harm.  In Alma 43: 47 we learn about the lengths the Lord expects us to go to protect our family.  It is written “And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore, for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.”  (Alma 43:47)

Once again, our Heavenly Father is an example of a Father who protects His children.  While God does not spare anyone from experiencing great trials and tribulations in this life, He does promise that He will not allow any external force to interfere with completing our essential mission on this earth.

Through the scriptures we learn that God protects us from evil and from those who seek to do harm to us.  He does allow us to experience suffering and hardship but promises to protect us from any lasting damage and to consecrate our afflictions for our gain.  He also promises to strengthen us to be able to deal with the hardships that come upon us and to accomplish the foreordained life missions each of us were given. Let’s look at each of these principles in more detail.

The scriptures contain many stories that show how God protects His saints from evil.  Paul promised the Thessalonians: “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” (2 Thess 3:3) He also told the Thessalonians that God would recompense to every man who persecuted the Saints. He said: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.” (2 Thess 1:6)

One of the most dramatic examples of this principle is found in the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6.  Elisha was surrounded by an entire army of Syrians who sought to destroy him when his servant began to tremble in fear.  Elisha said to this servant:  “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.  And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6: 16-17) God had literally sent the armies of heaven to protect Elisha from harm so that he could finish his work.

In the Book of Mormon in Jacob 3:1 we read:  “Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.”  (Jacob 3:1)  Similarly, God describes the extent to which He will go to protect His saints in D&C 35:24 which reads:  “Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound; and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good, and Satan shall tremble and Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish.” (D&C 35:24)

God promised Joseph Smith that his enemies would not be able to end his life a day sooner than God had preordained.  He said: “Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.” (D&C 122:8-9)

The next promise to consider is the idea that God will take our experiences of suffering in this life and use them for our eternal gain.  The prophet Lehi taught: “Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2)  Jesus has been compared to a master alchemist who turns base metals into gold.  However, the base metals that Jesus deals with are the experiences of suffering and affliction that we all have and He turns those experiences into the Gold of eternal life.  Speaking through Isaiah, the Lord used this metaphor when He said: “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)   Continuing with this metaphor, the prophet Isaiah promised that the Lord uses our experiences to burn away the dross of our souls and refine us into gold: “And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin” (Isaiah 1:25).

God often hears our prayers and decrees they will be answered in His own due time and that our struggles in the meantime will be consecrated for our gain.  In D&C 98: 2-3 the Lord gives the Saints this counsel: “Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.” (D&C 98:2-3)

While God promises to ease our burdens, He does not always immediately change our external situations.  Speaking to Alma and his people who were in bondage to the Lamanites, the Lord said:  “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:14)

The scriptures promise that the Lord can heal us of any sorrow, disappointment or affliction that we do experience.  In Psalms 147:3 the Psalmist writes:  “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalms 147:3)

This is because the Lord has personally experienced our hardships.  Alma testifies of the healing role of Jesus Christ when he says: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. “And he will take upon him death that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succour his people according to their infirmities.”  (Alma 7: 11‐12)

Ultimately, the Lord promises us eternal life with Him and complete victory over death and hell.  In 2 Nephi 9:10 Jacob proclaims: “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.”   In D&C 59:23 the Lord declares the reward of the righteous: “But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

As Father’s we can seek to protect our families in the same way that God does by doing our best to protect them from evil and from those who would seek to harm them.  We can also participate in helping our children turn their afflictions into gains and invite them to come unto Christ to be healed of their afflictions by our words and our deeds.

Father’s Day is a holy day, it is a day set aside to reflect and consider the role our earthly fathers have had in our lives but also in their reflection of our Heavenly Father. It is a day to Honour Him in His sacred role in our lives and fulfill and obey the commandment to honour Him. It’s an opportunity and blessing to be as He is and consider as Father’s how we can more closely approximate His example, and that of the Savior who gave the most honour to God the Father by continually saying the Honour be Thine.

I leave you with my testimony that our Heavenly Father lives and that if you seek Him out and submit to His will then He will protect you from permanent harm, provide you with everything you need in this life and will guide you towards peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.  I testify that Jesus Christ lives and close in His sacred and Holy name. Amen.

The Restoration (Missionary Lesson)

1. God is our Loving Heavenly Father

God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His children. He has a body of flesh and bone that is glorified and perfected.  He loves us and weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right.  He wants to communicate with us, and we can do so through sincere prayer.

He has given us this experience on earth so that we may learn and grow. We can show our love for him through obedience to His commandments.  He has provided a way for us to be successful in this life and to return to live in His presence.  Central to this plan is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which included His suffering the Garden of Gethsemane and his suffering and death on the cross.  Through the atonement we can be freed from the burden of our sins and develop faith and strength to face our trials.

The following scriptures teach us that God is our Father:

1. 1 Nephi 17:36: Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.
2. Mosiah 4:9: Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
3. Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
4. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
5. 1 John 4: 7-9: Beloved let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

2. The Gospel Blesses Families

The Gospel blesses and helps husbands and wives, parents and children as they strive to develop stronger relationships and spiritual strength.  Families are ordained of God and are the most important social unit in time and in eternity. He has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life.

3. Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation

One way God shows His love for us is by calling prophets, who are given the priesthood—The power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Prophets learn the gospel by revelation.  They then teach it to others and testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.  The teachings of prophets are found in sacred books called scriptures.  In Amos 3:7 the Lord teaches us: ” Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

Through the atonement we can receive eternal life if we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.  This is called the “Doctrine of Christ” and is found in the following scripture: “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21)

All people have the gift of agency, which includes the freedom to accept or reject the gospel. Whenever people reject they distance themselves from God and begin to live in spiritual darkness. Eventually this leads to a condition called apostasy and when it occurs on a large scale God withdraws His priesthood authority to teach and administer the ordinances of the Gospel.  This is called apostasy and God ends these periods by sending a new prophet.

Prophets act as stewards to oversee the household of God on earth. Such periods of time headed by prophetic responsibility are called dispensations. God revealed the gospel to Adam and gave him priesthood authority. He learned of mankind’s proper relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel.  Men eventually rejected the Gospel and God sent new ones such as Noah, Abraham and Moses.

4. The Savior’s Earthly Ministry

A few hundred years before the birth of the Savior, people again fell into apostasy. But when he began his mortal ministry He established His church again on the earth.  He sent his Son to take upon Him, by His suffering, the sins of all who would live on this earth and to overcome physical death. He provided an infinite sacrifice so that we could enter and follow the path that leads to eternal life.  He taught his gospel and performed many miracles.  He organized His church and was rejected and crucified.

5. The Great Apostasy

After the death of Christ, wicked people persecuted the Apostles and Church members and killed many of them. With their death, priesthood keys and authority were taken from the earth.  Without the Apostles, the doctrines were corrupted and unauthorized changes were made in organization and priesthood ordinances. Without revelation false ideas were taught as truth. The nature and character of God was lost and many churches emerged out of the confusion. After centuries of confusion and darkness, truth-seeking men and women protested and sought to make changes to religion which came to be known as the reformation which opened the way for the restoration.

The prophet Amos prophesied of this great apostasy in Amos 8: 11-12 which reads: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”

The Church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19-20; 4:11-14). These leaders have divine priesthood authority.  Through revelation they direct the affairs of the Church.  They maintain doctrinal purity, authorize the administration of ordinances and call and confer upon others the priesthood authority. Priesthood did not continue through Peter and thus the only way it could be restored would be through divine messengers.

6. The Restoration of the Gospel

Joseph Smith lived in the United States, at the time it was the only country to enjoy religious freedom. IT was at a time of great religious excitement and many ministered claimed to have the true gospel.  Joseph desired to know which of all the sects was right as the Bible taught there was one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).  Joseph said: “So great were the confusions and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was…to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong…In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? IF any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

Joseph then turned to the Bible and read “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) This inspired Joseph to ask God and so in the spring of 1820 he went to a nearby grove of trees and knelt in prayer.

Joseph then describes what happened after he prayed: “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon men…When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved. Hear Him!.”

God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. The Savior told Joseph not to join any of the churches for they were all wrong.  “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Even though many good people believed in Christ they inherited a state of apostasy and lost the priesthood authority to perform the ordinances of salvation. Just as God had done through Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses he called Joseph as a prophet to restore his truth.

Afterwards other heavenly messengers were sent to Joseph. John the Baptist appeared and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to baptize.  Peter, James and John followed and gave him the Melchizedek Priesthood.  With this authority, he was directed to organized the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth.  Through him, Jesus Christ then called twelve apostles.

The time in which we live is called the last days or the fullness of times just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. A living prophet directs the Church today.  This prophet is the authorized successor to Joseph Smith.

7. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Knowing that doubt, disbelief and misinformation would remain after centuries of darkness, our loving Heavenly Father brought forth an ancient volume of Holy Scripture comparable to the Bible. It is convincing evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

Joseph was directed by a heavenly messenger named Moroni to a hill where gold plates had lain hidden for centuries. These contained the writings of prophets giving an account of God’s dealing with some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.  Joseph Smith translated these plates through the power of God.  The prophets in this record knew the mission of Jesus Christ and taught his Gospel and Christ appeared to these people after his resurrection.

In order to learn the truth of this record, one must read, ponder and pray about it.

8. Pray to know the Truth through the Holy Ghost

The message of the Restoration is either true, or it isn’t. After reading and pondering the message of the Book of Mormon, any who desire to know the truth must approach God in prayer and ask him.  The Holy Ghost will teach us truth through our feelings and thoughts.

The Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught: “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”

Similarly, Jesus also taught: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

In order to pray, address your Heavenly Father, express the feelings of your heart (Gratitude, questions, requests to confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon) and then close in the name of Jesus Christ.

9. Reformers

The great reformation that occurred in Europe was preparatory work for the restoration.  The following reformers laid the groundwork for the Restoration:

1. John Wycliffe: Born in 14th century England.  Theology scholar at Oxford.  Taught the Catholic Church didn’t have priesthood keys, that the Holy Eucharist was not the actual body of Christ and that the church shouldn’t exercise political power over the people.  He translated the Bible into English.

2. Martin Luther: Born in 1483 in Germany.  Studied at Erfurt and Wittenberg.  Nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in defiance of many teachings of the Catholic church such as paying money to be forgiven of sins.

3. William Tyndale: Born in Wales in 1494.  Studied at Oxford and Cambridge and translated the New Testament into English.  Made the scriptures available to common people and was executed.

4. John Calvin: Born in 1509 in France.  Studied in Paris and was a major leader to reform the Catholic Church.

Religious Leaders:

Many other nations and cultures have been blessed by those who were given that portion of God’s word “that God seeth fit that they should have.” (See Alma 29:8) Some of these great leaders include the following:

1. Buddha (Gotama):  Born in 563 B.C. of a Hindu chieftain in Nepal.  He was concerned with suffering he saw around him so he renounced the world and lived in poverty, seeking enlightenment he discovered the path of deliverance.  Claimed to reach Nirvana, a state of oblivion to care, pain or external reality.

2. Confucius: Born in 551 B.C.. Orphaned as a child.  China’s first professional teacher and greatest moral and social thinker.  Believed that heaven had entrusted him with a sacred mission as champion of the good and true.

3. Mohammed: Born in 570 A.D. in Mecca.  Orphaned in childhood and lived a life of poverty.  He gained reputation as a trusted peacemaker and in 610 prayed and meditated on Mount Hira.  He said the angel Gabriel appeared to him and delivered a message from Allah.  Claimed to receive communication from God through Gabriel.  These communications were later written in the Koran.


Preach My Gospel

The Restoration Pamphlet

The Plan of Salvation

1. Pre-Earth Life: God’s Purpose and Plan for Us

Many people wonder, “Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?” The plan of Salvation gives us answers to these questions.  God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children and He loves us. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.  The following scriptures teach us we are children of God:

  1. Acts 17:29: Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
  2. Hebrews 9:12: Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

We also learn of our pre-existent creation in Moses 3:5 which reads: “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air.”

God’s whole purpose is to enable us to enjoy all of His blessings. He has provided a plan to accomplish this and we understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth.  Jesus Christ is central to God’s plan. Through His atonement, Jesus Christ fulfilled His Father’s purpose and made it possible for each of us to enjoy immortality and eternal life.

Gods Purpose is outlined in the following scriptures:

1.  John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
2. Moses 1:39: For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Satan, or the devil, is an enemy to God’s plan.  Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. Our eternal progression depends on how we use this gift. We must choose whether to follow Jesus Christ or follow Satan.  We are physically separated from God during life on earth, but He wants every one of His children to find peace in this life and a fullness of joy in His presence after this life. He wants us to become like him.

2. The Creation

Under the direction of the Father, Jesus Christ created the earth as a place for us to live and gain experience. In order to progress and become like God, each of us had to obtain a body and be tested during a time of probation on the earth. While on the earth we are out of God’s physical presence. We do not remember our pre-earth life and so we must walk by faith.  We learn of the creation in the following scriptures:

1. Moses 6:63: And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.
2. Abraham 3:24-25: And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.

3. Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve were the first of God’s children to come to the earth. God created them and placed them in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, with bodies of flesh and bones. While they lived in the garden they were still in God’s presence and could have lived forever. They lived in innocence and God provided for their needs.

In the Garden, God gave Adam and Eve their agency. He commanded them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Obeying this commandment meant that they could remain in the garden but could not progress by experiencing opposition. They could not know joy because they could not experience sorrow and pain.

Satan tempted them to eat the forbidden fruit and they chose to do so. This was part of God’s plan. Because of this choice they were cast out of the garden and out of God’s presence. This event is called the Fall. Separation from God’s presence is spiritual death.

Adam and Eve became mortal—subject to physical death or separation of the body and spirit. They could now experience disease and suffering. They had the ability to choose between good and evil, which made it possible for them to learn and progress. It also made it possible for them to make wrong choices and sin. They could now also have children, so the rest of God’s spirit children could come to earth, obtain bodies and be tested. Only in this way could God’s children progress and become like Him.

When first teaching this doctrine, do not teach everything you know about it. Explain very simply that God chose two of His children, Adam and Eve, to become the first parents on earth.
After their transgression they were subject to both sin and death. By themselves they could not return to live with Heavenly Father. The Lord spoke to Adam and taught him the plan of salvation and redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ. By following that plan, Adam and his family could have joy in this life and return to live with God (see Alma 18:36; 22:12–14).

4. Our Life on Earth

Life on earth is an opportunity and a blessing. Our purpose is to have joy and prepare to return to God’s presence. In mortality we are subject to physical and spiritual death. God has a perfect, glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones. To become like God and return to His presence, we too must have a perfect, glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones. However, because of the fall, every person on earth has an imperfect, mortal body and will die. If not for the Savior Jesus Christ, death would end all hope for a future existence with Heavenly Father.

Along with physical death, sin is a major obstacle that keeps us from becoming like our Father in Heaven and returning to His presence. In our mortal condition we often yield to temptation, break God’s commandments and sin. During our life on earth each of us makes mistakes and sin always leads to unhappiness. Sin causes feelings of guilt and shame and because of our sins, we are unable to return to live with Heavenly Father unless we are first forgiven and cleansed.

While in mortality, we have experience that bring us happiness. We also have experiences that bring us pain and sorrow, some of which is caused by the sinful acts of others. These experiences provide us opportunities to learn and grow, to distinguish good from evil and to make choices. God influences us to do good; Satan tempts us to sin. As with physical death, we cannot overcome the effects of sin by ourselves. We are helpless without the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The following scriptures teach us about our life on earth:

  1. 2 Nephi 2:21: And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
  2.  2 Nephi 9:27: But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
  3. Mosiah 3:19: For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

5. The Atonement
Before the world was organized, our Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to overcome the effects of the Fall. All of the prophets since the world began have testified of Jesus Christ as our redeemer.

We will all suffer physical death, but Jesus Christ overcame the obstacle of physical death for us. When He died on the cross, His spirit became separated from His body. On the third day, His spirit and His body were reunited eternally, never to be separated again. He appeared to many people, showing them that He had an immortal body of flesh and bone. The reuniting of body and spirit is called resurrection and is gift promised to each of us. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will all be resurrected regardless of whether we have done good or evil in this life. We will have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones that will never again be subject to disease, pain or death. The resurrection makes it possible to return to God’s presence to be judged but does not guarantee that we will be able to live in His presence. To receive that blessing, we must be cleansed from sin.

God sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to overcome the obstacle of sin in addition to the obstacle of physical death. We are not responsible for the Fall of Adam and Eve, but we are responsible for our own sins. God cannot look on sin with any degree of allowance, and sin prevents us from living in His presence. Only through the Savior’s grace and mercy can we become clean from sin so that we can live with God again. This is possible through exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

To fulfill the plan of salvation, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. He alone was able to do that. He was called and prepared in pre-earth life. He was the literal Son of God in the flesh. He was sinless and completely obedient to His Father. Though tempted, He never gave in to temptation. When the Father asked His Beloved Son to pay the price of the world’s sins, Jesus was prepared and willing. The Atonement included His suffering the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection. Thought He suffered beyond comprehension—so much so that He bled from every pore and asked whether it were possible that this burden be lifted from Him—He submitted to the Father’s will in a supreme expression of love for His Father and for us. This triumph of Christ over spiritual death by His suffering and over physical death by His Resurrection is called the Atonement.

Christ promised to forgive our sins on the condition that we accept Him by exercising faith in Him, repenting, receiving baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and striving faithfully to keep His commandments to the end of our lives. Through continuing repentance, we may obtain forgiveness and be cleansed of our sins by the power of the Holy Ghost. We are relieved of the burden of guilt and shame, and through Jesus Christ we become worthy to return to the presence of God.

As we rely on the atonement, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did not, however, eliminate our personal responsibility. We must show that we accept Him and that we will follow His commandments. Only through the gift of the Atonement can we return to live with God.

6. The Spirit World

Even though Christ conquered physical death, all people must die, for death is part of the process by which we are transformed from mortality to immortality. At death our spirits go to the spirit world. Death does not change our personality or our desires for good or evil. Those who chose to obey God in this life live in a state of happiness, peace, and rest from troubles and care. Those who chose not to obey in this life and did not repent live in a state of unhappiness. In the spirit world the gospel is preached to those who did not obey the gospel or have the opportunity to hear it while on earth. We remain in the spirit world until we are resurrected.

7. The Resurrection, Judgment, and Immortality

When our bodies and spirits are reunited through the resurrection, we will be brought into God’s presence to be judged. We will remember perfectly our righteousness and our guilt. If we have repented, we will receive mercy. We will be rewarded according to our works and our desires.

Through the resurrection all people will become immortal—they will live forever. Immortality is a free gift to all people, whether they are righteous or wicked. Eternal life is not, however, the same immortality. Eternal life is a gift of God given only to those who obey His gospel. It is the highest state that we can achieve. It comes to those who are freed from sin and suffering through the Atonement of Christ. It is exaltation, which means living with God forever in eternal families. It is to know God an Jesus Christ and to experience the life they enjoy.

8. Kingdoms of Glory
During our mortal lives we make choices regarding good and evil. God rewards us according to our works and desires. Because God rewards everyone according to deeds done in the body, there are different kingdoms of glory to which we may be assigned after the Judgment. Those who have repented of their sins and received the ordinances of the gospel and kept the associated covenants will be cleansed by the atonement of Christ. They will receive exaltation in the highest kingdom, also known as the celestial kingdom. They will live in God’s presence, become like Him, and receive a fullness of joy. They will live together for eternity with those of their family who qualify. In the scriptures this kingdom is compared to the glory or brightness of the sun.

People who do not accept the fullness of the gospel but live honorable lives will receive a place in the terrestrial kingdom. This kingdom is compared to the glory of the moon. Those who continued in their sins and did not repent in this life will receive their reward in the lowest kingdom, which is called the telestial kingdom. This kingdom is compared to the glory of the stars.


Preach My Gospel 




Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

Sacrifice is Greater than Increase

Principle 1: Oliver Granger was promised he would have his name held in “sacred remembrance.” 

There is a message for Latter-day Saints in a seldom quoted revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1838. “I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord” (D&C 117:12).

Principle 2: Oliver Granger was an ordinary man who didn’t accomplish anything great by worldly standards.

Oliver Granger was a very ordinary man. He was mostly blind having “lost his sight by cold and exposure” (History of the Church, 4:408). The First Presidency described him as “a man of the most strict integrity and moral virtue; and in fine, to be a man of God” (History of the Church, 3:350).

When the Saints were driven from Kirtland, Ohio, in a scene that would be repeated in Independence, Far West, and in Nauvoo, Oliver was left behind to sell their properties for what little he could. There was not much chance that he could succeed. And, really, he did not succeed!

Principle 3: The Lord cares more about the sacrifices we make than our increase. 

But the Lord said, “Let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord” (D&C 117:13).

What did Oliver Granger do that his name should be held in sacred remembrance? Nothing much, really. It was not so much what he did as what he was…..We cannot always expect to succeed, but we should try the best we can.  “For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9).

The Lord said to the Church:

“When I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings. …

“… This I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 124:49, 53; see also Mosiah 4:27).

Principle 4: The Lord is not pleased when we worry that our sacrifices to Him are not good enough. 

Some worry endlessly over missions that were missed, or marriages that did not turn out, or babies that did not arrive, or children that seem lost, or dreams unfulfilled, or because age limits what they can do. I do not think it pleases the Lord when we worry because we think we never do enough or that what we do is never good enough.

Principle 5: “Failure” is inevitable but so is being lifted up when we fall by God.

The Lord did not say of Oliver, “[If] he falls,” but “When he falls he shall rise again” (D&C 117:13; emphasis added).

Principle 6: The Lord doesn’t need us to accomplish His work so our sacrifices are what is really important.

In 2 Nephi 27:21 we read: “Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.”

Principle 7: We cannot do anything without God and are all “unprofitable servants.” 

King Benjamin taught: ” I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2: 21)

Jesus also taught: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)


The Least of These – Boyd K. Packer


Depression Protocol – Module 5

Module 5: Assertiveness Training

Depression is sometimes maintained by a passive or passive-aggressive communication style and a lack of assertiveness.  This passivity often leads to a failure to communicate needs and desires and thus failing to have those needs and desires satisfied.  Over time, the person lives a deeply unfulfilling and resentful life.

 The Main Goals for Phase 5 include:

  • Identifying your communication style using the aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive framework.
  • Education on assertiveness and identifying the underlying beliefs that prevent the client from being assertive.
  • Educating the client on other communication skills that include: active listening techniques and understanding body language.
  • Homework: Using assertiveness scripts and worksheets to practice being more assertive.

Depression Protocol – Module 4

Phase 4: Core Belief Work

After you are educated on cognitive restructuring tools and themes have been identified in thought records you can shift towards beginning to challenge those core beliefs.  If the therapist has not identified the salient core belief, then ask for a core belief list and try to identify any that resonate with you.  The therapist can also use the downward arrow technique more deliberately to identify core beliefs.

Here are some examples of using the downward arrow to arrive at core beliefs. The initial thought as recorded on a thought record is followed by responses to the therapist promptings.

  1. “My belief that marriage lasts forever has been challenged by my separation.” –>” This means that what I believe about marriage isn’t true.” → “If what I believe about marriage isn’t true, what else am I wrong about?” → “I am a foolish person.”
  2. “My wife wants to go to bed early tonight.”–>”She must not value spending time with me.” → “I am not worthy of her time.” → “I am unlovable.”
  3. “I am a bad cook.” –> “I cannot fulfill my role obligations.” → “I am a failure.”
  4. “I am never going to get a job.” → “I will not be able to provide for my family.” → “I am a failure. “

You will know when you have identified a core belief because that belief will be extremely resistant to change.  Core beliefs are those most strongly held beliefs, opinions and points of view that tend to be very rigid, resistant to change and distorted.  They are often formed in childhood and maintained through systematic information processing biases and distortions.

There are four categories of core beliefs that we are most interested in:

  • Core Beliefs about the Self: I am bad / I am strong / I am sinful / I am perfect / I am unlovable / I am entitled / I deserve bad things
  • Core Beliefs About Others: Others will hurt me / Others are my potential friends / Others are out for themselves only / Others need me, and I need them
  • Core Beliefs About the World: The world is safe / The word is my oyster / The world is mean / The world is beautiful / The world is a palette
  • Core Beliefs About the Future: Terrible things are destined to happen to me/ my future is bright / My future is grim / I believe I can achieve my important goals / I will never achieve my goals.

The most common Core Beliefs that those suffering with depression report are: “I am unlovable”; “I am incompetent”; “I don’t like other people” and “There is no hope for my future.”  Many variations of these themes manifest so that a client may use slightly different language such as: “I am bad” or “I am a failure” or “People suck.”  The overarching theme seems to be believing one is hopeless to have intrinsic needs met.

Core beliefs are identified so that they can be challenged.  There are four general steps for challenging core beliefs:

  1. Step 1: Find evidence that the belief isn’t true ALL the time. Your therapist can help you brainstorm and create a list of exceptions.  For example, if you have a belief that you are a failure then brainstorming successes or helping you recognize past successes can aid in changing the belief.  Remember, that due to the mental filter, this will be a difficult exercise for you to complete and will rely on skillful questioning from the therapist.
  2. Step 2: Develop an alternative core belief and look for evidence that this is true. The new core belief should not be unrealistic but should be a balanced recognition of strengths and weaknesses. For example, the core belief: “I am perfect just the way I am” may be unrealistic so an alternative may be: “I have the capacity to learn, grow and have my needs met.” As with the first step, you can brainstorm with your therapist to find evidence that proves the balanced core belief is true.
  3. Step 3: Finally, for very rigid core beliefs an examination of the past may be necessary. This can be a time-consuming process as it involves analyzing pivotal events in your history that you believe proves the belief is true.   It is important to analyze these pivotal moments, identify how they were interpreted and reframe them using cognitive restructuring techniques.
  4. Step 4: Changing core beliefs is a difficult and time-consuming process that takes a lot of effort and persistence. In order to successfully change a core belief, it is often necessary for you to repeatedly and purposefully look for new evidence to support your  budding new balanced beliefs.  The positive data log is a tool that asks you to record evidence everyday that supports the new belief.  This is a crucial step and ensures gains are maintained and that the brain is slowly rewired over time.

The Main Goals for Phase 4 include:

  • Identifying and determining the most relevant core beliefs to begin changing.
  • Education on what core beliefs are and how they are maintained.
  • Creating a list of exceptions to the problematic core belief.
  • Doing a historical analysis of the core belief, if needed, to reframe pivotal life experiences and reprocess them as an adult.
  • Creating a new balanced core belief to be reinforced over time.
  • Homework: Utilizing positive data logs every day to reinforce the new balanced core belief.

Depression Protocol – Module 3

Module 3: Cognitive Restructuring

The third phase of a depression protocol involves using standard cognitive restructuring techniques to identify maladaptive beliefs that can become targets for change.

This phase begins with some psychoeducation on the CBT Iceberg, the automatic nature of thoughts and the differences between the conscious and unconscious systems of the brain.  You will then be educated on cognitive distortions and asked to identify examples in your own life.  This is facilitated by describing a recent situation that caused you to feel depressed and then identifying a thought to be used to identify distortions.

After this psychoeducation, you will then be introduced to the thought record in session and then asked to begin filling out the first three columns for homework whenever you notice a large decrease in mood. Subsequent sessions involve education  on the validity and utility of thoughts and doing homework to ensure you are practicing using these new tools.

  • Validity Techniques: Evidence technique, cognitive distortions, cognitive continuum, responsibility pie, best friend technique.
  • Utility Techniques: Cost/Benefit Analysis, behavioral experiments, best-friend technique, maladaptive consequences.

If you determine that a belief is valid and not distorted, then a shift towards problem solving can be helpful. Not all beliefs are distorted and sometimes you truly are in non-responsive environments that need to be changed. The specifics of problem solving training are covered in another post.

Over time, the main objective of this phase is to begin to identify themes and patterns in the thought records that you complete in session and for homework.  Once these themes are identified then core belief work can begin.

Thought Records

Thought records form the foundation of the new house of thought (and therefore mood) that we are developing. Thought records are like training wheels when learning to ride a new bike.  They guide a certain process of thinking that is meant to be internalized and eventually done automatically on one’s own without the need for any paperwork.  CBT is learned line upon line and this is the tool to one of the most important lines for clients to know.  The Thought record is simply the five factor model rearranged with a few more columns added to help you challenge and reconstruct your beliefs.

When you first fill out a the thought record  it can be overwhelming to so you only have to fill out the first few columns at first.  You are to use the thought record whenever you notice a shift in mood and you are to record the situation you are in, what emotion you are feeling, what you are doing and finally what you are thinking.  After you have written down all of your thoughts you are to identify your “hot thought” or the thought that hurts you the most.  If you are struggling to identify the hot thought ask yourself: “If you could get rid of only of these thoughts, which one would it be?” It is important you identify which thought is most harmful because that thought will be the focus of the rest of the thought record.

Here are some pointers for how to fill out each of these columns:

  • Situation: Ideally, you want to confine a situation to a 30 minute period in your day. You want to answer the 4 W’s: Who, What, When and Where.  The 30 minute period to look at should begin when the client noticed a shift in their mood.
  • Mood/Emotion: In this column, you want to list only emotions and sensations and not thoughts or interpretations. Many clients struggle with differentiating between thoughts and emotions.  Commonly, clients will say things like “Hurt” or “Alone” which are not emotions but they probably mean “Sad” or “Scared.”  You can use emotion lists to help with emotional vocabulary and you can get some psychoeducation on what emotions are, how to recognize them and what their functions are.  This thought record provides the basic emotions that you simply need to circle and then rate how strongly you feel these emotions on a SUDS scale (1-10).
  • Thoughts: In this column, write down everything that you are thinking, no matter how stupid you might think those thoughts are. It is very important that you are honest here and do not censor yourself.  After writing down everything you were thinking you need to identify and write down the thought that is most painful to you (hot thought) so that it can be the focus of analysis and possible change in the following columns.
  • Behaviors: In this column simply record what you did or didn’t do in response or reaction to the situation. This will help us identify maladaptive coping responses that may be the target for future change.

After you have practiced filling out the first few columns you can move to the next columns.

  1. Distortions: In this column, simply identify how your hot thought is distorted using this post as a guide.
  2. Evidence: In this column, outline evidence for and against your belief.  You can use this post as a guide.
  3. Utility: In this column, determine how useful this belief is and whether it is helping you meet your goals.
  4. Balanced Belief: Create a new balanced belief that acknowledges the negatives but balances those negatives with positives.  A simple formula you can use is: “While x negative thing is true y positive thing is also true.”

Best Friend Technique

The Best Friend Technique is a simple Socratic question designed to help you gain some objectivity and take the perspective of someone else who cares about you.  It helps you escape your limited perspective and should induce some self-compassion and empathy.  The Best Friend Technique involves some variation of the following question:  “If your best friend was in this situation, what would you say to them? If you have a really wise and loving best friend, what would they say to you if you told them your thoughts? What would I/a therapist say?”  The thought record provided even gives you a column where you can ask yourself this question and fill in the answer.

Coping Cards

To make Coping Cards simply take the balanced beliefs produced through thought records and write them down on a cue card.  Next, place those cue cards in areas that are likely to trigger distorted thoughts so that you can be reminded of the new belief you are trying to reinforce.  Cue Cards should be read daily so that you can be reminded to practice reinforcing more balanced perspectives.

The Main Goals for Phase 3 include:

  • Providing psychoeducation on the CBT Iceberg, automatic thoughts & conscious/unconscious brain system.
  • Education on cognitive distortions and identifying them in sample beliefs.
  • Introducing the thought record and teaching about validity and utility techniques.
  • Homework: Collecting thought records to identify themes and core beliefs to be challenged.


Thought Record

Evidence Technique

Disputing Questions

Depression Protocol – Module 2

Module 2: Behavioral Activation

In the second phase of treatment, you will begin addressing the behavioral causes of depression by deliberately trying to “activate” yourself through vision casting, goal setting and monitoring behavior.

You begin by analyzing the weekly monitoring worksheets assigned for homework in the first phase of therapy.  These monitoring sheets ask you to record what a typical day/week looks like and to rate your mood throughout the day.  It is also useful to record your subjective experience of “pleasure” and “mastery” on a scale from 1-10.  Monitoring behavior is a potent tool for promoting self-awareness  but it also gives your therapist data that can help draw connections between certain behaviors/situations and moods.  This data can be useful when helping you set goals which is the next task of behavioral activation.

After introducing monitoring and collecting data, an examination of core values is often helpful to set the stage for setting meaningful life goals.  The research confirms that setting goals concordant with your values leads to a range of positive outcomes.  For example, see the following study which suggests self-concordant goals leads to better academic outcomes:

However, self-awareness appears to be relatively rare in the population and especially rare in those suffering with mental health disorders.  There is often a large disconnect between what clients say they value and how they are behaving.  Many depressed clients have given up on pursuing a life they would value as they do not believe it can be achieved and settle for unrewarding lives.  It is important to determine your top values before setting goals in order to ensure those goals are line with who you want to be. You can use a list of common values and go through that list to identify which ones stand out if you are unsure.

After determining what you value, some variation of the “miracle question” is helpful to allow you to begin dreaming of a life that excites you.  Ask: “If a miracle happened today and you had the life that you desired what would that look like?”  It can be difficult thinking about what your relationships/career/hobbies/family/spirituality/achievements/health would look like but keep persisting. It is important that you do not hold back out of fear but that you are honest about your deepest hopes and desires.  In the business world, Jim Collins calls this process of vision casting setting your “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” or BHAG.  It is a crucial process for engaging in a life of pleasure and meaning.

If you are struggling to visualize the future or to determine what would excite you then try asking yourself the following questions:  “Before you were depressed, what did you like to do?” What do friends/neighbors like to do?” Can I suggest some things and see if any of them sound good?”  “Consult a pleasurable activities list and see which ones stand out to me.”

After determining core values and setting your “BHAGs” you are now ready to begin breaking down what you need to do in order to make this dream a reality.  Set SMART goals that can be accomplished and measured each week.  In order to avoid overwhelming yourself, begin by only setting 2-3 goals a week and then as you build a record of success continue adding onto those goals.

For the rest of therapy, the therapist will check in with you each session concerning goal monitoring and progress.  For many clients, being “reactivated” is often enough to drastically reduce symptoms of depression but for others they need to address deeply ingrained core beliefs.

The main goals for phase 2 include:  

  • Collecting and analyzing data from monitoring worksheets.
  • Determining your core values and setting self-concordant goals.
  • Setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals by answering the miracle question.
  • Homework: Setting and following up on weekly goals that lead to accomplishing the dream.

Depression Protocol – Module 1

Module 1: Intake & Socializing to the Cognitive Model

In the initial phase of treatment, the therapist will educate you on the symptoms, epidemiology and etiology of the disorder.  The therapist will use her standard intake questions and if she determines that you are struggling with depression then she will rule out differential diagnoses such as grief, dysthymia, post-partum dysphoria and seasonal affective disorder.  The therapist will also educate you on the cognitive model using metaphors and five-factor model worksheets to ensure you understand the reciprocal nature of the human matrix.

The therapist will then set treatment goals and determine how those goals will be measured.  Most therapists use a combination of subjective self-reports on mood and more objective depression inventories such as the Beck Depression Inventory to measure progress.

It is during this phase that the therapist begins building the therapeutic relationship which remains paramount above any information/technique that is to be provided. Do not ignore rapport building and establishing a therapeutic relationship by focusing too much on technique.

The main goals for the initial phase Include:

  • Education on the symptoms, epidemiology and etiology of Depression.
  • Education on the cognitive model using metaphor and worksheets.
  • Setting treatment goals and how you will measure progress towards those goals.
  • Build the therapeutic relationship and prioritize it above technique/information.
  • Homework: Five Factor Model Worksheets & Weekly Monitoring Worksheet

Major Depression: An Overview

Major Depressive Disorder: DSM V Criteria

While you cannot diagnose mental health disorders, you should be familiar with their symptoms, as outlined in the DSM V.  According to the DSM V, a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder must meet the following criteria:

Specific symptoms, at least 5 of these 9, present nearly every day.

  1. Depressed mood or irritable most of the day
  2. Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities, most of each day
  3. Significant weight change (5 %) or change in appetite
  4. Change in sleep: Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  5. Change in activity: Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy
  7. Guilt/worthlessness: Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  8. Concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, or more indecisiveness
  9. Suicidality: Thoughts of death or suicide, or has suicide plan.

Source: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (2013). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Differential Diagnoses

Before proceeding with a depression protocol, you should rule out a few differential diagnoses.  Two common disorders that are often mistaken for depression are Seasonal Affective Disorder and Dysthymia.

According to the DSM V, a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder must meet the following criteria:

  1. The person must have had at least two episodes of depression in the past 2 years occurring at the same time of the year (most commonly, fall winter), and full remission must also have occurred at the same time of the year (most commonly, the spring).
  2. In addition, the person cannot have had other, nonseasonal depressive episodes in the same 2-year period, and many of the person’s lifetime depressive episodes must have been of the seasonal variety.

You should attempt to determine whether the symptoms are seasonal in nature (usually during the fall/winter) and whether the symptoms clear up during spring/summer. Prevalence rates suggest that winter seasonal affective disorder is more common for people living at higher latitudes (northern climates) and in younger people.

If you suspect that you may show symptoms of SAD, then a referral to a clinician who specializes in light box therapy may be necessary.  For more information on bright light therapy, please see the following article from the Harvard Health Blog:

Another common disorder that shows a lot of overlap with Major Depressive Disorder is Dysthymia.  Dysthymia is a mood disorder that can best be understood as a chronic (longer lasting) low-grade (lower intensity) form of depression.  Thus, clients with Dysthymia will have a longer history of a less intense form of depression (2 years or more).

Another common presenting issue that is often mistaken for depression is complicated grief.  Grief and depression have many overlapping symptoms, but the major difference is that grief does not lead to a loss of self-esteem while depression does.  Depression can eventually result from complicated grief, but it calls for a very different treatment protocol.

And finally, major depressive disorder should also be differentiated from postpartum dysphoria in which 50-70% of women report symptoms of depression shortly after giving birth.

Source: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (2013). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.


The Prevalence of a disorder refers to the proportion of cases in a given population and is a measure of how widespread a disorder is.  The incidence of a disorder refers to the rate of new cases each year and is a measure of the risk in developing/contracting a disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health’s epidemiological survey in 2016 indicated the following:

  • Prevalence: 7% of the American Population had at least one episode of depression in that year.
  • Lifetime Prevalence: The Lifetime prevalence of mood disorders is estimated to be around 20%.
  • Gender: Major depressive episodes were higher in females (8.5%) compared to males (4.8%). Women are known to have higher rates of trait neuroticism which may account for these gender differences.  The roles many women fulfill also tend to give them less control and research confirms that women are more likely to ruminate which exacerbates depression.
  • Age: Major Depressive Disorder was highest among those ages 18-25 (10.9%).
  • Prognosis: The World Health Organization ranked depression the 4th leading cause of disability. By 2020, it will be the second leading cause.

Source: Major Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2018, from


There are multiple causal pathways to depression with many of the causes likely being sufficient but not necessary for onset to occur.

The Biological causes of depression

  • Genes: Twin studies show a moderate genetic influence. One promising candidate is the serotonin‐transporter gene—a gene involved in the transmission and reuptake of serotonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters involved in depression. One can either have 2 short alleles, 2 long alleles or 1 of each to form three genotypes.  Some research suggests that those with 2 short alleles are at a genetic risk for developing depression when faced with stressful life situations.
  • HPA Axis Abnormalities: Some research suggests that Blood plasma levels are elevated in 20-40% of depressed patients and in 60-80% of severely depressed hospitalized patients. Trauma and intense stress in childhood can increase the reactivity of the HPA axis which becomes a vulnerability to depression later in life.
  • Hypothyroidism: Depression is correlated with low thyroid levels. If your client has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism work collaboratively with her doctor to set the course for treatment.
  • Neurological Differences: Depressed patients show lower left-side prefrontal cortex activity which is associated with approach behaviors and reward seeking.  The relatively higher right-side prefrontal cortex activity is associated with increased negative affect and hyper-vigilant behaviors.   Depressed patients also show increased amygdala activity.
  • Circadian Rhythms: Research with depressed patients also indicates that circadian rhythms become desynchronized and the size and magnitude of these rhythms is diminished. Depression may therefore sometimes be caused or exacerbated by circadian rhythm abnormalities.

The Psychological causes of Depression

  • Attributional Style: Attributional style refers to what you typically attribute the cause of a behavior or event to.  Attributional styles vary along three dimensions:  internal-external, global-specific and stable-unstable.  Depression is associated with an attributional style of internal, stable and global causes.  This means that depressed people tend to attribute negative events to individual causes (internal) that cannot be changed (stable) and that affect many different areas of life (global). This contrasts with explanatory styles that are external, specific and unstable.  This means that negative events are typically seen as being externally caused, changeable and being confined to certain domains of life.
  • Beck’s Cognitive Triad: Aaron T. Beck observed that depressed people tend to have 3 types of negative thoughts. These include negative thoughts about the self, other people and about the future.  Depressed peopled tend to see themselves as failures and as possessing unique flaws that make them unlovable. They also tend to have negative views about people in general and thus have little hope for the future.
  • Cognitive Distortions: Depression is maintained by systematic information processing biases. In level 1 we examined distortions in detail which are negative misrepresentations of reality.
  • Hopelessness Theory: Depression can also result when one perceives a lack of control over a negative outcome which makes the person feel hopeless. However, signs may begin to arise that control is possible, so depression shifts into anxiety as the person attempts to gain control.  The person then vacillates between beliefs that control is possible (anxiety) and that control is not possible (depression).   Anxiety surfaces when some hope returns. This is one possible explanation for the high degree of comorbidity that occurs between depression and anxiety.

The Social causes of Depression

  • Lack of Social Support and Social Skills: Depressed individuals have smaller and less supportive social networks, and many have a passive or passive-aggressive communication style which leads to unmet needs.  Depressed people therefore have less resources to utilize for dealing with life stressors and typically have fewer connections which leads to fewer opportunities. This creates a vicious cycle that maintains the disorder.
  • Interpersonal effects: Depressed people can become burdensome to others as those around them feel the need to provide sympathy, support and care on an ongoing basis. This can lead to resentment or simply fatigue and further strains the already weakened support network and fuels the cycle of isolation.

The Behavioral Causes of Depression

  • Learned Helplessness: Seligman did a series of experiments in which he exposed dogs to uncontrollable shocks and then put them in aversive situations where escape was possible. However, after being exposed to the shocks the dogs lost the drive to even attempt escape.  It was as if they had learned a sense of helplessness that had generalized and prevented future attempts at control even when control was available.  The dogs serve as an analogy for those people who experience uncontrollable stressors (often in youth) and learn a sense of helplessness that generalizes to become the dominant mode of being.  This general sense of helplessness is similar to the symptoms and beliefs that many depressed people experience.
  • Lack of Rewards: From a behavioral perspective, depression is also sometimes caused by an unresponsive environment or a lack of experiences that cause feelings of pleasure and accomplishment.  The passive and hopeless beliefs that depressed people adopt cause them to withdraw and cease to have rewarding experiences.

Source: Hooley, J. M., Butcher, J. N., Nock, M., & Mineka, S. (2017). Abnormal psychology. Boston: Pearson.

The Brain and Depression
In a landmark study done in 1999 by the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that exercise was just as effective in treating depression as medication is. 156 participants were divided into three
groups: the medication group, the exercise group and a group that exercised and received medication. After 16 weeks there were no significant differences between the groups as around 65% of people were no longer depressed. While the medication group became less depressed faster, after a certain amount of time exercise yields the same results.

Researchers did a follow up study with 133 of the original participants six months after the study and found that those who continued exercising had much lower rates of depression compared to everyone else.  This means exercise seems to work slower but has longer-lasting effects compared to medication.  Exercise seems to increase endorphin release which numbs the pain that depressed people feel. Exercise releases endogenous morphine as opposed to drugs that mimic the effects of endorphins.

Depression is also associated with a malfunctioning arousal-regulation system. When you are depressed your arousal system is tuned too low. In a highly stimulating environment the brain down-regulates its responsiveness too much and in a low-stimulation environment your brain doesn’t up-regulate enough. Neurotransmitters like Serotonin are thought to be involved in these processes and depressed people show deficiencies here.  Brain scans reveal that those who suffer from major depression have substantially fewer serotonin receptors in their midbrain than do non-depressed people.  The midbrain contains the hypothalamus and the limbic system and is associated with mood regulation. Depression is associated with reduced sensitivity to serotonin in these regions of the brain.

One emerging theory suggests that the key to overcoming depression is to stimulate neurogenesis or making new neurons in the brain. Research confirms that people who suffer from depression for several months have smaller hippocampus regions.

People who suffer from inflammation-related diseases are also more likely to suffer from depression. There may be a link between inflammation and depression but right now the relationship is correlational.   Some research suggests that eating fermented foods can help you with depression. Fermentation involves exposing foods to a type of bacteria called lactobacilli. These bacteria convert the sugars in foods into lactic acid which tastes sour. Some examples of fermented foods include: kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, sourdough bread, tempeh and miso.  Some research suggests that the incidence of depression is lower in people who eat fermented foods but right now this is correlational and we aren’t sure why.

Source: Outsmart Yourself