By Andrew T. Austin
The phenomenon of NLP's "eye accessing cues" are fairly well known these days. Regrettably the knowledge of eye accessing cues often comes complete with common misconceptions such that "if the eyes move across to the right, the person is lying" and "if they move upwards, they are a visual person." This is unfortunate.
Such misconceptions have been widely accepted by mainstream psychiatry and psychotherapy as an operating belief of NLP and related disciplines. And as a result it is common for research papers to be written about such eye movements as a way of disproving the claims of the entire field of NLP. Yet of course such claims for eye movements are not made by anyone who understand NLP correctly.
Meanwhile, in the specific application of trauma recovery and post traumatic stress disorders experience readily shows that application of specific eye movement therapies is particularly effective with regards to intrusive imagery and "flashback" phenomena. Essentially, the method involves holding the problematic imagery in mind whilst the eyes are moved in different directions. The result of this is often that the imagery loses its emotional impact and becomes far less disturbing. The sometimes effective therapeutic model of EMDR is built on this principle.
Integral Eye Movement Technique (IEMT) developed out of these models following the observation of a number of neurological phenomena that occur during the eye movements at the point that the problematic imagery changed its emotional coding. Then there was the development of a specific set of applications of this phenomena that enabled IEMT to be applied to the areas of neurological imprints – specifically, emotional imprints and imprints of identity.
Emotional imprinting occurs when a person lays down a new kinesthetic response to an experience. This teaches the person how to feel about certain things. For example, how many of us when told by the boss that he'd "like a word" in his office immediately feel like a school child about to be told off. This is an emotional imprint in action.
IEMT addresses and resolves the question, "how did this person learn to feel this way about this thing?"
Identity imprinting occurs during life long development and is constantly evolving and changing. Many aspects of identity are attributed and occur neurologically as a feedback response to the environment. An example of this is the production worker who yesterday was "one of the boys" and today, following promotion to lower management, is now officially an enemy to his former friends and colleagues.
Other "deeper" aspects of identity are more permanent and are "feed-forward" into the environment. These are the aspects of identity that tend to occur in all contexts, with some being more resilient than others. Examples of this are gender identity, identity as a father/mother, brother/sister and so forth.
Thus, IEMT also addresses the issue of, "how did this person learn to be this way?"
In some cases, the person can adopt aspects of identity that can be problematic. For example, an emotional imprint might be, "I feel unhappy" whilst and identity imprint might be, "I am an unhappy person" or even, "I am a depressive."
By specifically addressing the identity imprint this enables the therapist to by-pass the beliefs that often support the undesired identity such as, "I cannot do that because I am a depressive" and so forth.
IEMT is a proposed brief therapy and an evolving field that enables a core state change in minimal time. The two day practitioner training covers both the emotional and identity imprint models, the relevant neurological anatomy, physiology and the manifest neurological phenomena and the skills required to deliver the model effectively and elegantly.
It must be emphasised: IEMT is not the grand unified theory of therapy and change work and is still a developing model, but is a very useful adjunctive for the trained therapists and when used in the right hands can provide an excellent remedial tool for emotional change and a generative tool for identity change. Practitioners are reporting that IEMT enables excellent results where previously a good outcome might have appeared improbable.