Differences Between EMDR and IEMT

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT)

Both the EMDR and IETM models use eye movements but in practice that is where the similarity ends. I often tell participants that EMDR and IEMT are exactly the same in the same way that Freud's 'Psychoanalysis' and Bandler's 'NLP' are exactly the same because they both use words. Of course, for the intelligent observer such flippancy is not really required. EMDR is a model used mainly by licenced medical professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists. IEMT can be used by anyone trained in the model.

Where EMDR is primarily used to treat "trauma", something it is very effective at doing. However IEMT is much more about the Patterns of Chronicity. These are 5 primary patterns that appear common to many chronic patients with, or without a history of trauma.

These five patterns are as follows:

1. Three Stage Abreaction Process
A pattern of escalating emotional behaviour in order to create change in the external environment.

2. The Great Big, "What if..." Question
The use of a single counter-example that sabotages and counteracts any therapeutic generalisation.

3. The Maybe Man Phenomena
The Maybe Man is uncertain of his own experience and this leaks out into his language. By remaining uncertain and without precision he does not commit to his genuine experience or to his identity and thus inadvertantly sabotages effective therapy.

4. Testing for Existence of The Problem Rather Than Testing for Change
Even though 99% improvement might be made, if the person with chronicity is able to locate just 1% of the problem existing, this will generally be seen as representative of 100% of the problem existing.

5. Being "At Effect" rather than "Being At Cause"
By being "at effect" the person experiences emotional problems happening to them, rather than being something that happens by them. A person "at effect" will seek 'treatment' rather than seeking 'change'.

To summarise the differences:

Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT)

  • Is a model built around addressing and resolving The 5 Patterns of Chronicity
  • Has applications in resolving PTSD
  • Traumatic imagery is largely irrelevant to the process
  • Addresses imprints of emotion for creating kinaesthetic change
  • Addresses imprints of identity for creating change in self concept
  • Uses eye movement as the dominant mechanism for change
  • By design readily creates introspection and an alpha state with free floating imagery
  • Prior qualification is not necessary for training in IEMT
  • Developed from an original idea from Steve and Connirae Andreas by Andrew T. Austin

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

  • Is a model built around resolving trauma
  • Is an application for resolving PTSD
  • Traumatic imagery is central to the work and the client is encouraged to "observe" trauma
  • Uses eye movement as well as tapping and alternating sounds
  • Utilises affirmations and positive belief statements
  • Only psychologists and medical professionals can be officially certified in EMDR
  • Developed from an original idea of John Grinder by Francine Shapiro


If you have any additions or corrections, please email them over to me at:

3 Comments on “Differences Between EMDR and IEMT

August 2, 2019 at 9:45 am

The comments regarding EMDR are not fully accurate:
1. It is not about just resolving PTSD. Many mental health problems are trauma related – anxiety at work, for example, can often be rooted in issues from school such as bullying. Use of floatback or affect bridge can identify the root cause (trauma), which when resolved with EMDR, leads to cessation or reduction of anxiety in current life situation.
2. Affirmations and positive belief statements are used, but the idea is that they are self-generated – ie emerge spontaneously as a result of processing trauma.
3. Saying it was ‘developed from an original idea from John Grinder’ is not really true – many people have ideas and ‘originality’ is a matter of opinion.

That said, I like some of the ideas behind your ‘patterns of chronicity’ – I think they do represent some of the blocking beliefs that stop people reaching their true potential. I just wish people didn’t pigeon hole EMDR!

Andrew T. Austin
August 2, 2019 at 10:28 am

Thanks Justin, but just to note that I did not write the second half of this page regarding the differences, it was written by an EMDR trainer who attended an IEMT training.

Sarah-Jayne Harrison
August 21, 2019 at 11:47 am

Tbh i expect EMDR has been pigeon holed because its become a buzz word/abbr, like CBT, iapt and many other public health options.

These are also more commonly advertised and therefore only a portion of information is taken and run with. If people think there’s a quick fix in this busy world where time is of the essence, it sells well.

I do think both approaches have a lot to offer though.


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