April Slaughter is one of the few paranormal researchers working with a psychotherapy treatment used to help individuals recover from severe grief and trauma. The treatment, Induced After Death Therapy (IADC), provides intriguing insights into the nature of grief, the mind, and how we may be able to access different elements of our consciousness. Ms. Slaughter shares her insights about what this compelling therapy means — or not — for serious paranormal investigators.
What is IADC therapy? (Induced After Death Therapy)
IADC is a technique used in psychotherapy to help patients face, process, and recover from severe grief and trauma. Those who have undergone the procedure report seeing and conversing with the spirits of their deceased loved ones, which results in a drastic reduction and/or complete elimination of their associated grief. This technique was discovered and perfected by Dr. Allan Botkin during his many years of work with Vietnam Veterans in Chicago, Illinois.
Many readers may know very little about this. Can you briefly explain what happens during these sessions?
Typically, three sessions with an IADC trained psychotherapist are scheduled. During the first session, grief the patient is experiencing is discussed before Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is administered. It has been shown that EMDR quickly and effectively uncovers the ‘core-sadness’ the individual is grappling with, briefly accelerating the emotion, and then decreasing it dramatically.
The second session is when the IADC experience occurs. EMDR, in a particular sequence, is administered again. This assists the patient in connecting with what they believe to be the spirit of the individual(s) they are grieving. It is not hypnosis. The patient is in a relaxed state, but remains fully conscious.
Patients often report seeing, hearing, and even touching those they felt they’ve lost, helping them to resolve any ‘unfinished business’ and to move past their grief. These experiences last anywhere from just a few seconds to several minutes and cannot be predicted or controlled by either the therapist or the patient.
During the third session, the patient returns to discuss their experience and to address any issues still outstanding with their therapist. If need be, the experience can be induced again to resolve any remaining grief associated with the deceased.
It seems that the emphasis is on the emotional experience rather than the need to believe the experience is actually real. Can you elaborate?
The IADC experience is unique to every individual who undergoes the procedure. The patient is (except in rare cases and circumstances) the only individual to perceive the event. Trained therapists agree that while it seems to help their patients process their grief, they cannot claim that they are actually speaking to the dead. IADC is a therapeutic technique, not a way to prove the existence of life after death.
Dr. Botkin, who developed IADC therapy, suggests that this does not endorse a spiritual experience. However, what are your own personal conclusions?
Being that I am a ‘believer’ in life after death, and the ability to connect and communicate with those we love on the other side, it is natural for me to believe that IADCs are not only possible, but actually do occur. Being an entirely internal and personal experience, an IADC cannot be viewed as proof of anything to anyone external to the patient. I myself have undergone the procedure with overwhelming success, having seen and spoken to three individuals who have passed on. The experience was real to me, and is real to the thousands of patients who have undergone IADC therapy. That is all that is important.
This technique did not originate from within the paranormal community but how may it impact our research?
The paranormal community is often sharply divided into two groups of people: those who want to prove the existence of life after death and those who want to disprove it. I do not believe I belong to either of these groups. Instead, my goal is – and has always been – to validate my own personal beliefs, and not to convince anyone else that paranormal experiences are authentic. Every individual is uniquely motivated to pursue answers about the other side. We are hardwired to be curious, but we are also hardwired to doubt that which seemingly cannot be scientifically proven. Perhaps the information and emotional fulfillment stemming from IADC experiences will inspire people within the community to realize that there are greater implications to being ‘connected’ than capturing the next great ‘ghost’ photo or disembodied voice. There is a bigger picture to view; it’s just a matter of opening your eyes and being willing to see it.
What is appealing to you about IADC, considering your own research deals with the “unseen” rather than just emotional healing (although I know there can be links between the two)? Or, I suppose another way of to look at this question is how many paranormal experiences do point to the need for the witness/recipient to heal or treat it as a metaphysical experience?
The IADC experience intrigues me because it doesn’t seem to matter what the religious and/or spiritual beliefs of the patient are when undergoing the procedure. The results are the same. These people are reconnected to and healed by those who have loved them and passed on, regardless of whether or not they believed they still existed in whatever form. Those of us who actively seek out answers about the afterlife are most often driven by the desire to ‘know’ that all is not lost. We can put up this front that ‘ghost hunting’ is just a fun way to spend a night in the dark, but in my opinion, there is an underlying desire in all of us to be connected. We spend far too much of our time preoccupied with what equipment we can buy and use to measure something that I truly believe you can only accurately gauge by using the internal instincts you were born with. IADC experiences happen when you are in the right frame of mind to receive them. By constantly being pre-occupied with the notion of proof, we ignore the signs and positive implications these experiences can provide to us.
Do you feel it is important to distance some paranormal aspects from IADC research to honor objectivity and to make it easier for the scientific/psychological community to embrace it as a type of treatment?
IADCs are designed to help patients come to terms with their grief, to attain peace, and to live their lives in a better state of emotional health. It was not designed as a parlor trick, or as entertainment for those in search of a ghostly thrill. A dividing line between your average paranormal investigation and the IADC experience is necessary here in that this is a purely personal and therapeutic experience, the gravity of which can impact your life on much deeper levels than anything you experience ghost hunting.
Finally, what does IADC mean for those of us doing “ghost work”?
Again, I don’t know that IADCs are necessarily relevant to every paranormal investigator/researcher with relation to their goals.
You recently stated on your social networking sites that these experiences are rarely negative, if ever. That contradicts the cliched language that ghostly events are creepy or weird. What can we do to better educate ghost hunters, researchers, and the general public about this research dynamic?
There has never, in the thousands of documented cases, been an instance where the patient encountered anything negative in nature during an IADC, even if they had some preconceived notion that they might. This is interesting to me because those who would claim it is ‘all in our heads’ might have a tough time explaining how someone overcome with worry or fear would walk away from an IADC uplifted and healed rather than frightened or emotionally hurt in some way.
All we can do to better our understanding of the ‘unseen’ environment that constantly surrounds us is to approach it with an open mind, a desire to learn, and the willingness to let go of everything we were taught the afterlife is or isn’t.
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ~Roald Dahl