When our loved ones or pets pass away, we feel sad. Sometimes very sad. Sometimes incapacitatingly sad. For most of us, time is the only healer. The sadness fades over time and, eventually, the loss begins to affect us less in our everyday lives. We still miss our dearly departed, but their loss does not interfere with our ability to carry on.
Licensed psychologists like Gary R. Beaver, M.A., L.P., an Eagan-based specialist who helps people recover from grief and trauma, see clients who don’t recover well from loss over time. Such people struggle day by day to keep their jobs while silently suffering their loss. Yes, there is talk therapy, but that only goes so far. And during the past 15 years, Beaver has found some positive results using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming), a psychotherapy that uses eye movements, sound and touch to help lessen the emotions of sadness and fear. Even that does not help everybody.
Beaver began to take a much more active interest in understanding the dying process when his own mom suffered from a lengthy illness and passed away in 2012. He felt the pain of her loss deeply. But ten days after his mom’s passing, he experienced what he described as a spontaneous after-death communication, and almost instaneously his grief was gone. Beaver thrust himself headlong into a study of what had occurred. Eben Alexander’s best-selling book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, had just been released, and Beaver devoured it. He attended a regional Afterlife Awareness Conference. And he scoured the web.
Then he happened upon the work of Allan Botkin, Psy.D., a psychologist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Botkin modified EMDR and created a method that heals deep sadness associated with the loss of a loved one or pet, a treatment known as Induced After-Death Communication or IADC®. Some clients report having face-to-face interactions with their loved ones during treatment. Others see their passed loved ones in a happy state, sometimes surrounded by family and friends, on the Other Side. Almost all of them resolve their sadness and grief.
When Beaver discovered Dr. Botkin’s work just by browsing the internet, a bright light turned on inside of his mind.
“I went home,” he said, “and I said to my wife, ‘I found it. I found what I am going to do!’ And within days I had scheduled the training with Dr. Botkin.”
Beaver is now one of about 400 people who have been trained worldwide to help others with Induced After-Death Communication. In the Twin Cities, Dr. Kathy Heuser with The Alternative Wellness Resources in Burnsville also is trained in IADC. As a result of follow-up training Beaver received from Dr. Botkin this past month, he is only one of five people trained to teach IADC to other healing professionals, and he now sits on the international board overseeing the modality.
He spoke with The Edge about Induced After-Death Communication and how it can help resolve deep sadness and grief.
For whom is IADC targeted as a therapy?
Gary Beaver: It is for people who are suffering from prolonged grief and trauma. It will work in cases where the grief isn’t severe, but most of the people who are going to be seeking it out and who really are going to benefit from it are people who are stuck in their grief and are not able to get out of it. It also could work for people who haven’t been able to grieve. But in order for it to work, a person needs to be able to access their sadness about a person or pet who has passed away.
What’s the ultimate goal of Induced After-Death Communication for these people?
GB: Two things: the first is to clear the person’s sadness or at least greatly reduce it, and then for them to have an experience that most people interpret as being an authentic communication with their deceased loved one.
This is a direct experience they have. I am not a psychic, I’m not a medium. My job is simply to help bring about the conditions under which IADC can occur. We’re not making it happen. We’re creating a condition where it can happen. And sadness will block it, so we have to clear the sadness significantly before it will happen.
I understand that IADC is a 90-minute session on two consecutive days. What happens during the process? You begin by working to clear the core emotions?
GB: Yes. Generally we’re talking about sadness, and sometimes some fear may come in. We use the core-focused EMDR to clear that. We have the client focus on the saddest aspect of the memory, and then once that drops, we go to the next saddest thing, and we just keep doing that until the person says, “Gee, I’m really not able to bring up any sadness now.” Usually at that point they will be saying things like, “I feel peaceful. I feel calm.” Then they are in a state when they could have an IADC.
Most often, it takes much of the first day to clear the sadness. Clients are asked to pay attention to any sadness that may come up after the first day. On the second day, we process the remaining sadness until it’s pretty much gone.
Then the formal induction can occur. I help them formulate some meaningful questions or statements that they would like to say to their loved one, and then it’s a matter of just doing the eye movements without any specific instructions. They try to keep their mind as clear as possible, clear of chatter, clear of expectations, anything like that, to let the experience happen.
Do most people who know about this process go into it really wanting that personal connection with a loved one?
GB: Yes, desperately usually. Most of the people who come to a therapist for this are going to be feeling stuck in their grieving process. Now, this is something that really can’t be done until six months after the loss, and in some cases it may need to be longer than that if it has been a complicated experience, such as the loss of a child. Six months may not be enough, and a year can be a little bit iffy.
These people are still grieving intensely. Even six months to a year or more after the loss, their lives are far from being back to normal. They’re stuck in their grief, and miserable.
Will you give us a couple case studies where IADC was particularly effective in helping clients?
GB: Yes, I had one client whose sister had been murdered many years earlier, and he was still very sad about that and felt very guilty about it. We cleared his sadness, and that process actually went into the second day a little bit.
Then I began the IADC part. During this process, clients follow my hand with their eyes. The instructions are to close their eyes after I stop the hand movements and keep them closed for about 10 to 15 seconds. If nothing happens, then they can go ahead and open their eyes.
For this particular guy, we had done a number of sets and he just kept saying, “Nothing, nothing, nothing’s happening.” And then he closed his eyes and tears just started streaming down his face, so I knew something significant was going on. He probably had his eyes closed for about four minutes. He said that his sister had come up to him. I don’t believe he saw anything or heard anything, but he experienced a very vivid sensation of her taking his face in her hands, stroking his face, and then pulling him in for a full embrace.
It was more of a feeling experience.
GB: Yes. Totally tactile. And, it was so healing for him. I had been working with this client for a while. He did not come to me for this. He didn’t even know I did this, and I recommended it to him after hearing about his sister’s death and seeing how sad he was about that — and how unresolved it was. I had never seen him smile in the probably six or seven sessions that I had done with him — until that day.
There was just a lightness about him afterwards. After he left the session, another therapist in the clinic (Aslan Institute in Eagan) came down the hall and popped in my office and said, “Boy did you make him happy.”
I said, “Oh, was he smiling?”
He said, “All the way down the hall. What did you do, tell him your very best joke?”
Just to think of this guy smiling like that was just amazing.
I had another client who was one of the most depressed people I had ever worked with. He had a very, very low self-esteem. He felt he had done nothing but fail in his life. About 30 years earlier his mother had died. He was a client who did not come to me for IADC, and he didn’t know I did it. He never would show any emotion.
One day when he was talking about his mother’s death, I noticed he started to tear up a little bit. So, I told him about this method and suggested it. He said, “Well, I don’t think it will help. I don’t think anything can help me, but if you want to try it, then I’ll try it.”
On the first session when we were clearing his sadness, it was the most intense session I’ve ever experienced in 23 years as a therapist. He was sobbing so hard he could barely continue the process, and at the end he said he felt better than he could ever remember feeling. On the next day, he said he felt better still, and he had a really good session that second day, and felt even better at the end of that.
He came back two weeks later and said, “I don’t know how to explain this, but I feel great. I almost canceled today’s session because I don’t really have anything to talk about anymore, and I think I’ll just take a break from therapy and if I need to come back I’ll give you a call.” And he said, “It’s a different life and everybody who knows me is just asking me what happened, what happened?”
I had never seen anything like that happen before. I would not have thought that two sessions — and it was pretty much that first session — could get rid of that kind of depression.
Did he have any connection with his mom during the two days?
GB: Yes, that second day he definitely did have communication with her. Part of it was her showing him all of these experiences that he had had with her. He had felt very guilty because he basically ignored her at the time she was dying. Then during the session he had this realization, one after another, of all of the experiences where he had been there for her.
So it came back to him that he actually had supported her in different ways?
GB: Yes, that was part of his healing.
So how did you feel, particularly in these two cases? As a therapist, it must be quite rewarding for you.
GB: It’s incredibly rewarding. When I first started doing this, I was having trouble not crying because it was just so incredible, so moving, and it’s such an intimate experience.
I’ll tell you about another case I had that was really powerful.
A woman whose husband had died a year earlier was stuck. She said she had been a very bubbly, fun-loving kind of person before he died. When I saw her, she was not working. She wasn’t really doing much of anything. She was very isolated and was just totally focused on having lost her husband and being sad about that.
My two sessions were pretty much textbook as far as working the way it’s supposed to, and at the end she reported feeling really good. She felt like her grief had lifted and that she could still feel his presence in her life. I followed up with her about three months later and she said her life had turned around.
She said, “I’m really overdoing it. I’m working two jobs, I’m involved in all these activities and stuff, so I need to cut back some, because I’m stretching myself too thin.”
Are these permanent changes?
GB: Yes. That’s what all of the indications are. Dr. Botkin, in fact, just conducted a study and it’s going to be published soon in the Journal of Near Death Studies. It’s an analysis of 71 of his cases, before and after, showing how tremendous benefits were still continuing six months later.
Is there anything out there that provides as effective results for people who are grieving the loss of somebody or their pet, compared to this?
GB: I’m not aware of anything. I have used regular EMDR in these situations in the past, and that can certainly be very helpful, but this goes way beyond what that can do. When you add the IADC piece, that takes it even further.
For some people, once they have cleared their sadness, they feel pretty much done and they really don’t feel much of a need for an induced after-death communication. Most people will still want that and will still get additional benefit from it.
Other than EMDR, what’s being done for people who are in that severe state of grieving if they don’t follow these routes?
GB: For many people it’s going to be talk therapy or a medication that they’re going to be prescribed. There are other therapies that can help, but I don’t think they offer permanent results. Dr. Raymond Moody adapted a procedure from the ancient Greeks called psychomanteum, or mirror gazing. He puts people in a darkened room and has them look at the mirror, and in the forward to Dr. Botkin’s book, Induced After-Death Communication: A New Therapy for Healing Grief and Trauma, I think he says it works pretty effectively.
One thing that is significant about the Induced After-Death Communication process is because you’re clearing the person’s sadness before they have the IADC, clients get a lot more out of it.
Spontaneous induced after-death communications, like I had, are really pretty common. Recent survey research indicates that about 35 percent of people who have lost loved ones report having some kind of communication with them after that. Sometimes those are very healing and sometimes they’re not.
Is your goal to make it more known that this is available for people?
GB: Very much so. I really feel a need to educate people. Dr. Botkin discovered this in 1995, and he has said that he has been disappointed that this hasn’t taken off, because it is so effective. So many people can be helped, and so few people know about it worldwide. I have been doing everything I can to try to educate people that this exists and what it is and what it can do. Every other month I offer free informational sessions about Induced After-Death Communication.
Listen to Gary R. Beaver’s interview on Edge Talk Radio, speaking with Cathryn Taylor, host of “Edge Inner View”