Grieving the loss of a friend or family member is an unavoidable part of life. We will all experience loss in our life, but how we grieve is intensely personal to each of us and will differ for each loss we experience as well. With a time and support from friends and family, most of us find ways to cope with the painful memories and grief associated with missing the physical presence of that person (or animal companion) in our lives. We will always carry pain from the losses we’ve experienced, but many of us can learn to lead fulfilling lives in time.
Some people, however, suffer crushing, traumatic pain and grief associated with the loss of a loved one and cannot find ways to cope. Their lives are significantly impaired as they continue to relive the death and associated trauma over and over again. There may be a feeling of intense guilt or anger associated with the death of their loved one, including the death of beloved pets. For people suffering from profound traumatic grief, counseling and therapy have often focused on trying to help the client talk through the feelings, rationalize them, and put it behind them. The process was lengthy, and not always successful.
In 1990, Dr. Francine Shapiro discovered a way to help heal the pain from traumatic memories and PTSD more quickly and with better results, using a series of rapid eye movements, later termed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR®). Later, Dr. Allan L. Botkin, a Doctor of Psychology, discovered a key component to EMDR treatment while working with war veterans which seemed to allow his patients to experience communication directly with the spirit of the person they lost. Repeating the process with other patients, Dr. Botkin found that his patients could both release the profound grief associated with their devastating losses while experiencing tremendous joy at seeing and communicating with the spirit of the person they missed so terribly, often giving or receiving much needed forgiveness. Often, patients found significant improvement in only two or three sessions as compared to the years required for traditional therapy. Dr. Botkin called the new therapeutic technique Induced After Death Communications (IADC®) and shared his findings with other therapists who reported similarly remarkable results. Today, IADC trained therapists can be found in nearly every state in the US, and in several European countries.
Dr. Allan L. Botkin has written a book about Induced After Death Communication with Craig Hogan called Induced After Death Communication: A Miraculous Therapy for Grief and Loss, published in 2014 by Hampton Roads Publishing.
See a video of Dr. Botkin explaining his treatment: https://youtu.be/3kukc_YNc6k
Disclaimer: The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your mental or physical health.
What is After Death Communication (ADC)?
After Death Communication or ADC is a term coined by Bill Guggenheim and Judy Guggenheim in their landmark book called ‘Hello from Heaven’, published in 1996. From the website http://www.after-death.com, ADCs are defined as “a spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a family member or friend who has died. An ADC is a direct experience because no psychics, mediums, therapists, rituals, or devices are involved. And an ADC is a spontaneous event because our deceased loved ones always choose when, where, and how they will contact us.”
After-death communications can take many forms. You may sense your loved one around you, or the sign will be symbolic in nature, like seeing a bird, butterfly, or hearing a meaningful song. Other types of ADCs include smelling their perfume or aftershave, or hearing their voice. Some spirits can use technology, actually making a phone call or sending a text message. Additional forms of ADC include full or partial apparitions, visions, dreams, out of body visitations, and more. For a full list and explanation of each type of ADC, please visit www.after-death.com
Most people who have an ADC are left with the distinct impression that they’ve experienced something extraordinary, even life-changing. ADCs can bring a sense of peace to a bereaved individual and the certain knowledge that despite the physical separation, the person they loved still exists in some form.
For a full overview of after-death communications, please see my post After Death Communications: How to Encourage Signs from Loved Ones in Spirit
What is Induced After Death Communication?
Induced After Death Communication (IADC) is a therapy usually paired with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) performed in a clinical setting by a licensed therapist and used primarily to help heal grief associated with bereavement. EMDR uses rapid-eye movement along with behavioral therapy to desensitize patients with PSTD and other trauma. IADC, however, facilitates (but does not direct) a mental and/or visual ‘communication’ between the deceased and the patient. Although the efficacy of EMDR has been studied and its effects replicated, IADC is fairly new and considered unconventional. Dr. Allan Botkin, founder of the procedure, has resisted defining the source of the communication as paranormal or spiritual.
A study was done by Drs. Hannah, Botkin, Marron and Streit-Horn on 71 patients administered IADC between 2003 and 2010. Participants completed a grief symptom questionnaire before and after their IADC. The result revealed that 79% of the patients reported experiencing an ADC during the procedure. There was a medium correlation between pre-treatment belief in an afterlife and likelihood of experiencing the ADC (r=.48). Interestingly, those with a belief in the afterlife had stronger positive coping regardless, possibly demonstrating that a belief in the afterlife may help in the grieving process. Although the study was small and preliminary, there was a positive correlation between those who experienced an IADC and reduced anger, depression and increased coping. These encouraging results should provide an impetus for more rigorous testing and independent replication. Dr. Botkin’s website states that independent, controlled testing is being planned by Professor Jan Holder at North Texas University.
Is ADC/Induced ADC Proven to be Real Spirit Contact?
Science cannot prove whether after-death communications are simply coincidences and hallucinations, or real spiritual communication. There is no objective test to determine whether the experience is externally generated, or simply the result of wishful thinking. While many people who have experienced ADCs are convinced of their genuineness, ultimately what is an ADC is completely subjective. The same can be said of the IADC experience. IADC is not directed by the therapist; merely the conditions for experiencing something similar to a visionary ADC may be precipitated by the therapy session, the EMDR, or simply the result of our expectation. The anecdotal evidence is quite positive, but there is no established science to prove causation or correlation to the EMDR or IADC technique. Dr. Botkin does not speculate on the source of the experience, preferring to focus on the positive results and his patient’s belief that the experience was genuine.
What is an IADC session like?
A typical treatment requires two to three sessions over several days. In the first session, a IADC and EMDR trained therapist will speak to the patient about their sadness, grief or a specific traumatic event, honing in on specific memories and images that produce negative emotions. The therapist will then usually administer EMDR treatment while asking the patient to focus on the traumatic event. EMDR consists generally of eye-movement back and forth, focusing on a wand or on the therapist’s fingers. Although the mechanism behind EMDR isn’t proven, the rapid eye movement is believed to improve information processing, possibly relating to the way our brain functions during REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep. This has the effect of allowing the patient to become desensitized to the pain of particular memories and traumatic experiences more quickly than with traditional therapies. If appropriate, the second and/or third session will include the IADC treatment. The therapist will administer EMDR treatment while guiding the patient to focus on the loved one they have lost. Patients may then see a visual scene featuring the deceased unfold in their mind with unusual clarity and rich emotion. The deceased individual may speak to the patient, forgiving them if necessary, and assuring the patient that they are happy. Patients frequently see the deceased in a bright, beautiful environment in full health. According to Dr. Botkin, the result of the experience is reported to be overwhelmingly positive, relieving patients of guilt, sadness and anger over their loss in far less time than traditional talk therapy.
Consider this case study of a woman who successfully underwent both EDMR and IADC treatment.
Jane is a 52-year-old nurse who reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Stuart, after a divorce at age 46. Jane and Stuart were married and looked forward to their new lives together. Only a month after their marriage however, Stuart was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Jane nursed Stuart throughout his illness and eventual death. Jane’s grief over losing Stuart so soon after their marriage was overwhelming. A year after Stuart’s death, Jane’s crushing grief was causing significant impacts on her life and she sought therapy at Dr. Allen Botkin’s office. Dr. Botkin performed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing [EMDR] treatment with Jane, and followed up with Induced After Death Communications [IADC].
The IADC procedure resulted in what Jane perceived to be a true after death communication from Stuart himself. According to Jane’s testimony, she “felt Stuart kiss her cheek”, and with her eyes closed, saw him standing in front of her, describing him as vibrant and healthy. Jane heard Stuart say, “You’re still my girl!” and teased her about not adopting his cat. Jane also claimed to see her father who apologized for childhood hurts, as well as receiving additional messages of support regarding work left to do in her lifetime.
Another patient, Graham Maxey, stated the following on nhne-pulse.org:
“I’ve worked with Dr. Botkin since 2006 when he trained me in the IADC. During the training I had to be my own subject and experienced the effect first hand. I ‘saw’ and ‘spoke with’ my unborn daughter 23 years after losing her. It was a glorious reunion, and one that allowed me to continue our relationship over the years since. IADC changes the context of grieving. No longer do people have to sign up for ‘putting the past behind them,” as if that were really possible. In targeting the ‘core sadness’ of a loss, and helping people process that sadness in record time by utilizing a strong psycho-physiological mechanism through EMDR, people can now continue their relationships with loved ones, friends, and even pets while they move into the rest of their lives, instead of having to limp along trying not to think too hard about the ones they lost for fear of reigniting that terrible sadness and emptiness.”
Primary Concerns about IADC
As this skeptic has pointed out, IADC hasn’t yet been tested with proper controls by an independent lab. A proposed experiment by Dr. Jan Holder or North Texas University is planned. While the results of the 2013 study are promising, I haven’t found any independent reviews of the procedure beyond what is available in articles about IADC and testimonials on Dr. Botkin’s website.
Time and cost might be prohibitive for some people. The procedure requires two visits and trained therapists are limited in some areas of the country (see Dr. Botkin’s site for a list of IADC licensed therapists). Internationally, there are centers in Germany, Italy and France. Although each individual IADC trained therapist will likely set their own prices, Dr. Botkin’s fees per hour are $280, with the whole two-day procedure running from $560 to $840. Insurance is not accepted at Dr. Botkin’s office, though a local IADC trained therapist might individually accept some insurance plans for the procedure. Interested clients would need to check with both the prospective therapist and their insurance company before making an appointment.
Not all clients will meet the criteria for IADC treatment, and even those that do may not have an IADC. Some patients may find their beliefs challenged by an IADC procedure.
Can I experience an ADC without undergoing Induced After Death Communication Therapy?
ADCs may be the most common spiritual experience that a person can have. A study done by Jenny Streit-Horn in 2011 showed that “It seems reasonable to estimate that 70-80% of bereaved people are likely to have one or more ADCs within a year of bereavement (p. 54). After death communications, by definition, are not initiated by the grieving individuals, but by the spirit in question. This can be frustrating for those who desperately wish to hear from a loved one who has passed on. If you are interested in learning more about spontaneous after-death communications, you can read my aforementioned post on the topic as well as visit www.adcrf.org to read some amazing ADC experiences.
The preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence offered for the EMDR/IADC procedure are very promising. According to Dr. Botkin, IADC does not require a belief in the afterlife and is said to work independently of a person’s religious beliefs. IADC therapy may be most beneficial for people whose lives are significantly impaired by traumatic grief. It may not be a suitable replacement for those who are interested in spirit contact only. If you wish to establish communication with a loved one in spirit but do not feel that intense grief counseling is necessary, please visit the Forever Family Foundation or The Windbridge Institute for a list of tested and certified mediums.
Ultimately, the grief process cannot be completely sidestepped by ADCs or IADC therapy. While spiritual experiences can reduce or re-contextualize grief, they cannot take away the pain of mourning the physical loss of a loved one. Grief is complicated; methods such as IADC can be part of a healthy bereavement, but as with all things spiritual – it should be considered just one part of your overall process of healing the pain of traumatic loss.
Questions for the reader:
- Have you tried EMDR and/or IADC? What was your experience like? Would you recommend it?
- If you haven’t tried IADC, do you think it is something you’d be interested in doing? Why or why not?
- Have you ever had a spontaneous ADC? How did it make you feel?