1. What is the therapy known as Induced After Death Communication?
Induced After Death Communication (IADC) is a therapy for grief and trauma that was derived from a relatively recent and very powerful evidence based psychophysiological therapy called Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Both procedures use a form of bi-lateral stimulation (e.g. the back and forth movement of the eyes) to put the brain into a higher processing mode. When the brain is in such a mode, psychotherapy simply moves much faster and more efficiently.
I worked for twenty years as a psychologist treating combat veterans with PTSD on an inpatient unit at a VA hospital. In 1995, while experimenting with variations of EMDR, I accidentally discovered that one variation reliably resulted in my PTSD veterans having an experience that they believed involved actual spiritual communication with the deceased person they were grieving. At first, I didn’t know what to make out of what my patients were telling me. I only later found out that these sorts of communications are not at all rare and that they occur spontaneously in about 30% of the population. The only thing that was clear to me from the start was that these after death communications (ADCs), as they are now called, were extremely healing. In fact, my patients routinely left sessions more healed than what has even been considered as possible in the fields of grief and trauma work.
Since then, I further refined my procedure, wrote a few journal articles and a book, and opened the Center for Grief and Traumatic Loss, LLC in Libertyville Illinois. I now devote my professional work to IADC therapy and training. IADC is now a worldwide treatment and there are about 400 IADC trained therapists in about twelve different countries.
2. Could you go into the case that inspired the therapy involving the soldier who endured Vietnam?
I discovered IADC the day I was working with a Vietnam veteran I call Sam. When Sam was in Vietnam, he developed a father-daughter relationship with a ten year old orphaned Vietnamese girl named Le. Sam wanted to adopt Le and bring her back to the states with him. Sam’s wife had already approved.
One day, however, orders came down that all of the Vietnamese children living at Sam’s base camp were to be shipped off to a Catholic orphanage in a distant village. Sam cried when he and other soldiers put the children onto a flatbed truck to be taken away. Sam again promised Le he would find her and bring her back with him.
Suddenly shots rang out and bullets were zipping over their heads. Sam and the other soldiers pulled the children off the truck as fast as they could. Once the threat was eliminated, they began putting the children back on the truck. Sam, however, found Le lying face down with blood on her back Le was dead.
I first worked with Sam using eye-movements to relieve his profound sadness. At one point he literally fell out of his chair sobbing. After some time, his sadness came way down. I gave him another set of eye-movements and he closed his eyes. Then something very usual happened.
A big smile came over his face and he sat there for a few minutes grinning. When he opened his eyes he told me that Le had privately come to him as a young woman with long black hair and in a flowing white dress. She was also surrounded by a beautiful white light. Le thanked Sam for taking such good care of her. Sam then told her “I love you Le” and that she responded “I love you too Sam”. Le then reached out and gave Sam a big hug. Sam said “I could actually feel her arms around me”.
Sam was joyous. I was concerned because I thought the intense stress associated with his grief might have caused him to lose touch with reality and hallucinate. I was wrong. Sam did much better that day forward and there were no signs that he may have psychologically decompensated. In fact, his life improved in a number of unexpected ways.
3. What is your perspective on the afterlife and death after hearing all these communications?
As a psychologist whose main focus in on healing, I generally stay out of debates about whether after death communications, near death experiences, death bed visions, and so on, are spiritually real or not. It is also not my job, as I see it, to push my beliefs on others. I like to let my patients decide for themselves what is real and what isn’t. When I am asked what I think about this issue my response is usually “Why are you asking me, I am only a psychologist. Go ask people who have had these experiences what they think. They are the only ones with a truly informed opinion”.
In fact, IADC works equally well with believers, atheists, and agnostics. No prior belief system is required. It is also true that nearly all are convinced, regardless of their prior beliefs, that their experience was spiritually authentic. There is obviously something very convincing about all of these experiences.
There have been many attempts by researchers to “explain away” these experiences by relating some part of the experience to some part of the brain. My response to that is this. When I go look at the tree in my back yard, the visual part of my brain fires. But, just because a part of my brain is involved when looking at the tree does not mean that the tree is not objectively real.
All in all, I have to admit that so far the “afterlife hypothesis” does a much better job of accounting for all the varieties and details of these experiences.
4. Would you share an interesting case with us for our readers to under this therapy in more detail?
I recently worked with a woman I’ll call Jane whose ten year old son died of a very serious medical condition. Her son John had to endure many years of very complicated surgeries. Everyone liked John because in spite of his ongoing medical difficulties, he was always upbeat and loving.
John died in the hospital following his last surgery. Jane watched as doctors tried to revive him. According to Jane, “there was blood everywhere”. Jane managed to kiss her son good-bye.
In our session, Jane’s sadness was profound. She sobbed when she told me the story, and when we began to process her sadness with eye-movements. After forty-five minutes of processing her sadness associated with different aspects of her loss, it eventually started to come down. We started the second session on the very next day. There was still more sadness to process. About half way through the second session, she was working on the sadness she felt when she left John’s room after she had kissed him good-bye. This time though she saw in her mind’s eye that John’s spirit had followed her out into the hallway. After another set of eye movements she saw John standing and smiling in front of her, and he said, “Look Mom I’m still here”. Jane was sure it was her son’s spirit primarily because the experience was not at all like what she expected.
Jane then asked John if he was mad at her for putting him through all of those surgeries, and I gave her another set of eye movements. After she closed her eyes, and then opened them, she told me that John had said, “I could never be mad at you Mom. You need to stop being mad at yourself”. You saved me enough. I just couldn’t sustain it anymore. I am happier now, and you need to know that”. John then started dancing around and acting silly to show his mother how happy he really was now. Jane smiled and laughed when that image came to her.
Prior to our two sessions, Jane ranked her anger at 3/5, her guilt at 4/5, and her sadness at 5/5. After our second session her respective rankings were 0, 0, 1. She also reported feeling an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort.
5. Death lately bothers me a lot. Seems to be the root of my depression. I wonder about my dog Jack a lot who has seizures. I wonder if he will be there when I finally croak. Have you heard anything good about pets in the afterlife from your studies?
For some people, their primary grief issue is the loss of a beloved pet. We have done a good number of IADC cases with pets. It works the same as it does with humans. Dogs and cats are the most common, and other IADC therapists have reported horses in induced ADCs. I remember working with someone who had a parrot who had died. My hope was that the parrot would appear in an ADC experience and talk. It didn’t happen. I would never say that it is not possible to do IADC regarding the loss of a parrot. IADC therapy is successful in inducing ADCs in about 75% of all cases, whether the deceased is human or a pet. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. But, even in these cases, the bi-lateral stimulation brings the sadness, and attendant anger, guilt, and irrational cognitions down close to zero.
6. From your cases and studies why do you think we come here to the Earth? Is it forced or do we choose to? I always hear the afterlife is so great. If this is the case. Why come here only to die?
Great question. But, I am sorry to say, I do not have a great answer. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that according to IADC experiences, the afterlife really is great. But that comes with a warning about suicide. I discuss that in my book.
On a fundamental view of the ultimate nature of reality, there seems to be different camps. I will provide some examples. One is that consciousness is the only reality and spirits chose to inhabit certain bodies on earth. In this view, the purpose of the lives we chose is to learn and grow as spirits. This view is more in line with the teachings and beliefs of Eastern religions and is generally consistent with reincarnation and past life experiences.
In another camp are materialistic scientists who believe that consciousness is completely tied to a functioning brain. In this view, when the brain dies, consciousness dies. There is no purpose for life built into this view, other than perhaps the altruistic idea that one can make life better for others before going into complete oblivion. This point of view, of course, does nothing to help us explain NDEs, ADCs, IADCs, and death bed visions.
I offer another possibility, which is a variation of what are called emergence theories. In this view, life, consciousness, and the afterlife can be explained as emergent properties of the universe. The physicist Paul Davies once calculated that the odds that a big bang would ultimately result in life are something like one over ten to the twenty seventh power. So, in this view, there seems to be some purpose or design built into our universe. The only argument against design is that there are one times ten to the twenty seventh power dead universes out there, and we just happen to be lucky. The purpose of the universe in this case would appear to be the creation of life, consciousness, and the afterlife. I add the latter because this would support our findings in afterlife research. This view is not tied to any particular religion, and takes on a more naturalistic or evolutionary point of view.
These various fundamentally different points of view draw upon evidence from neuroscience, quantum theory and cosmology. While people have different beliefs on this matter, I do not think we have enough evidence to come to a final conclusion. While I think that NDEs, ADCs, IADCs and deathbed visions argue that a completely materialistic view of the brain is unlikely, I prefer a more naturalistic point of view as opposed to any ideas that include some sort of ongoing supernatural intervention. Something in the big bang made this happen. While Stephan Hawking recently argued that quantum laws allowed the big bang to happen by pure chance, this view begs the question, “But, where did those laws of physics come from?
7. Would you share another interesting case with us to help us to understand this therapy and its journey?
I would like to answer this question in a somewhat different way. Many people who do not believe that IADC experiences are real, assume that the experience must be either a result of suggestion from the therapist or wishful thinking on the part of the client.
It is very clear to all IADC therapists that any attempts on the part of the therapist to use suggestion to induce an ADC simply prevent an ADC from happening. Spontaneous ADCs are naturally occurring experiences that nearly all people describe as “coming out of the blue”, or as completely unexpected. The same is true for induced ADCs. The appropriate mind set during IADC therapy is being wide open to anything that might happen. Even when one experiences an IADC in therapy, and another set of eye movements are given to further develop the experience, clients are instructed to not attempt to go back to the previous experience, and to remain wide open to anything that might happen.
There have been many cases that argue against the idea that IADC experiences are a product of wishful thinking. First, in nearly all cases, clients are rather surprised by the content of their IADC experience. It is not what they were expecting, or even what they were wanting. Second, sometimes clients do not agree with the message they were given from the deceased. One client, for example, who separated from his wife because of their marital stress associated with the death of their son, was told by his deceased mother in an IADC to forgive his wife and to reconnect with her. My client, however, completely disagreed. And third, sometimes clients do not understand the message from the deceased. One of my VA patients asked his deceased father for advice. His father told him, “Use your tools”. My patient then told me that his father’s advice did not make any sense to him because his tools, which were sitting in the back of his garage, were outdated. We then did another induction and his father told him, “Not those tools, the tools you are learning in therapy”.
8. My father died in my early 20's and it made me start living life on the edge a lot more like partying and being a trickster fool and experimenting with drugs for the first time. It felt like a huge wound in my life. Tell us more about the healing aspect after someone has been through your therapy for a while. What is the end result?
First of all, IADC therapy only takes two ninety minute sessions. So, people are not in IADC therapy “for a while”.
The reason IADC can accomplish so much and in such a short period of time has to do with two factors. First, the bi-lateral stimulation puts the brain into a much higher processing mode and therapy moves much faster. Second, in IADC, and unlike standard EMDR, the therapist directly addresses the core emotional issue of all grief—namely sadness. When the sadness is successfully processed with bi-lateral stimulation, associated anger, guilt, shame, irrational cognitions, and so on, simply vanish. We use anger and guilt, the “what ifs”, to protect ourselves from our deepest pain. We also get drunk, use drugs, become workaholics, and so on to avoid our pain. Once the deep sadness is successfully processed with bi-lateral stimulation, all of these other issues simply fade away. It is amazing what we are willing to put ourselves through to avoid the pain of that deep, profound, and unimaginable sadness.
Once the sadness is fully processed, people most often feel an overwhelming sense of relief and peace. When in this state, further bi-lateral stimulation naturally leads to an ADC experience in about 75% of all cases.
What I am saying is viewed as some sort of blasphemy by many grief therapists. According to these people there will never be a “one size fits all” therapy because grief is a very individual matter. For these therapists, sometimes writing poetry is the best thing one can do, or talking walks. What they don’t understand is that we are all hard wired for sadness, and if a therapist does not recognize that, he/she is colluding in helping the client avoid the real work that needs to be done. And of course, since all relationships are different, all sadness is very individual. But, it is still sadness.
9. What are you up to next book wise or projects wise and any links you'd like to share with us? Thank you for this interview.
Our focus now is to get IADC mainstreamed as a recognized evidence based therapy. While hundreds of [trained] IADC therapists are well aware of the profound healing associated with IADC, we need s[the hard] science to back it up. The first peer reviewed paper appeared in the Spring 2000 edition of the Journal of Near Death Studies. Two more studies were published in in the Summer 2013 edition of the same journal. These three studies provide strong evidence that IADC is a very effective treatment. The gold standard in science is the control group design study. While none of the above papers were based on control group designs, there are now a few such studies that are getting underway.
The University of Virginia is currently researching what is going on inside the brain during IADC therapy and IADC experiences. So far, the data have not been fully analyzed, but these results will likely constitute a major breakthrough in our field.
In the meantime, more and more therapists are being trained, and more people are experiencing the benefits of IADC therapy. IADC has grown very rapidly in Germany over the last few years, and there is now an “Allan Botkin Institute” in Saarbrucken Germany. The growth of IADC in Italy is not far behind. IADC is also beginning to take hold in both France and the UK. As of today, there are six members of the International IADC Board.
The reason for all of the interest in IADC is due to the fact that IADC simply works. Those familiar with IADC are convinced. Now our job is to find ways to let other people know about it. For example, there is a documentary film team (go to www.healingafterthewar.org ) that is putting together a documentary and/or Internet series on IADC. Our film team needs funding to proceed. Any ideas out there?
My main web site is www.induced-adc.com. On this site is information about IADC therapy and training. Also, [a list of trained IADC therapists in the US and around the world] is provided.
Interest in IADC exploded in 2005 after the publication of my book, Induced After Death Communication: A New Therapy for Healing Grief and Trauma. Much has happened since then. My publisher has recently updated my book, and retitled it Induced After Death Communication: A Miraculous Therapy for Grief and Loss. It is available on Amazon. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think. Thanks for listening.