October 3, 2015

On the name of “IEMT”

I never intended for all this, nor did I plan for it. What started out as a small experimental workshop grew into something so much bigger. I must confess to still being a little surprised by it all, even now after all these years.

It was back in 2004-6 that I began running experimental workshops to test for the effect of eye movement therapy upon kinaesthetic experience. What initially emerged was a small observation that eye movements often worked on a troubling recalled experience, but were never effective in reducing the kinaesthetic experience of an anticipated event.

It was in 2006 that I first began experimenting with a simple process. I’d enquire as to the client’s anticipated emotional event, and then ask them for the first time they could recall experiencing this feeling, thus moving the visual representation from the anticipatory into recall. I’d then get the client to move their eyes whilst concentrating on this recall. Many will recognise these last details as being simply EMDR, but it was the bit before that made the difference. In EMDR we go directly for the memory, in IEMT we begin with the kinaesthetics and then explore the structuring on experiences that give rise to the emotional state.

More often than not, the client reported a good effect, and thus we had the beginnings of the “IEMT Basic Pattern”, but you may wish to give it a better name than that.

As I began exploring this with groups, I needed a name and naively I was calling this process “Eye Movement Integration”. Laziness on my part meant that I’d never bothered to check if this name was already a “thing” and it was only later in 2007 in an email exchange with Steve Andreas did I learn the actual history of Eye Movement Integration as a trademarked term. In hindsight, if I knew what IEMT was going to develop into, then I’d have used a different name than “Integral Eye Movement Therapy.” But the fact was that I just needed a name for a few workshops I was doing at that time and it was actually Nick Kemp that casually proposed the name and before we'd really thought about it, I jumped on the name straight away. These days with the increased popularity and awareness of using eye movements therapeutically that has partly arisen from my work, “Integral Eye Movement Therapy” now simply sounds too much like a ‘me too’ brand of “Eye Movement Integration” and this is something that is unfortunate, but, well, it is what it is.

In 2007, what was becoming clear was that my little method was very popular and I began formalising the teaching of it. With repeated presentations, a two-hour presentation grew into a four-hour presentation, and then into a day, and then into two days. The second-day modules about identity were developed after conversations with David Grove in 2006 who introduced me and a small group of trainees to the use of pronouns and how these can be used therapeutically.

At the time of writing, what started out as a little experiment has grown into an international movement with several hundred clinicians, coaches and therapists now formally trained in the process. The IEMT therapeutic model has been taught to doctors and nurses, psychiatrists, prison officers and police officers, managers and business leaders amongst others.

The IEMT has proven to be beneficial to a wide array of problems that have an emotional component, including asthma and psoriasis, emotional problems and stuck states, chronic pain and depression.

The development of “The Five Patterns of Chronicity” which emerged formally in 2009 has transformed the lives of numerous patients and clients who would otherwise have been unlikely to find relief from their suffering. These patterns were developed based on observation of a distinct group of “hopeless cases” that were referred to me by a local doctor in 2007-2008. As a result, quick therapeutic change is now a distinct possibility for a category of patients for whom therapeutic change would otherwise be thought of as most unlikely.

And so on to the present day. We have trainers based all over the world, IEMT is taught and practised on every continent. Much of the work has been absorbed into other disciplines and I now see various references to the patterns of chronicity appearing in NLP courses, coaching and psychotherapy writings. I regard this as a good thing as clearly the work is appreciated and benefitting people beyond the realms of my own direct sphere of influence. More recently, of course, there has been the need to formalise and standardise the training courses and create The Association for IEMT Practitioners.

And of course, in recent years there have been the rip-offs and the copycats; shady characters ripping off the work and presenting it as their own. I’ve seen a number of people do this over the years, including one person who was interviewed on the BBC about her discovery of the technique. Whilst these things are unfortunate, and of course, the same accusations can be levelled at me for absorbing other people’s work and influence into my own developments, I hope that such activities will only help to develop the field.

As the work is practised ever more widely, it is my hope that more observations and learnings will emerge and that these can be combined with the rapidly advancing neurosciences so that IEMT practice is no longer seen as a “new” practice but instead becomes an established and orthodox therapy that can be made available to all who need it.

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