The Eidetic Institute
3355 Bee Cave Rd I-104
Austin, Texas 78746
I am Dr. Katy Swafford, and I have had the humbling honor of working personally with Dr. Akhter Ahsen for many years. My training included workshops with Dr. Ahsen, and I continued individual work with him as long as he was able. I first knew that something had happened to him when I called on a Tuesday morning at 10:30 New York time (I'm in a different time zone, but Dr. Ahsen did not jump back and forth about my time or your time, the appointment was at his time). He did not answer. I was expecting his usual "hallo." I waited a few minutes and called back. When again he did not answer the phone, I knew something was wrong. I later found out he had suffered a stroke and, although I saw him several times over the next years, that was the end of my work with this contactful, challenging, and mythic presence that was Akhter Ahsen. My time with Akhter Ahsen is one of the most powerful events in my life.
“This time, the book will be written on the body of Man.” - Akhter Ahsen
Already a Psychologist, I was familiar with many theories and methods of treatment. I found Dr. Ahsen’s approach a beautiful integration of clear science and universal spiritual expression - a union of body and spirit with precise techniques for change. His method of changing the body through images in the mind is seminal, his focus never wavered.
This publication is created to acknowledge the passing of our beloved teacher and to express the many ways he will live on through the potential he has ignited in each of us. The following contributions are just a few examples of how his work has changed us and how his work will continue to be expressed in the world.
"Dr. Katy Swafford is one of our most respected, valued, and well-received instructors in the Master of Arts in Counseling Program at St. Edward's University!
Dr. Katy Swafford's name is synonymous with her Eidetic Institute in Austin Texas and with her Eidetic Imagery as a Systems Theory course, which is our most popular elective every semester. The master's level university course that Dr. Swafford created is the embodiment of the perfect marriage of systems theory of psychotherapy with its foundation of practice utilizing Eidetic Imagery with clients. The course itself and Dr. Katy are not only extremely popular, students report the course as a very powerful experience for them over the course of the semester.
Dr. Swafford's students and clients and colleagues adore her. I personally have spent many hours with Katy Swafford listening to her talk about Eidetic Imagery and listening rapt to stories of her studies with Dr. Akhter Ahsen and her incredible successes with her clients. Katy's face never fails to light up when she is talking about Dr. Ahsen and her work in the field. Dr. Katy Swafford's Eidetic Institute is literally taking off here in Austin with the training courses she is offering and the incredible opportunity she is offering clinicians and students to work with her."
Ellen C. Melton, PhD, LPCS
Instructor, Master of Arts in Counseling Program
Eidetics In Academia
Currently, I teach an elective at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. St Edward’s offers degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling which prepare students to be licensed by the state as counselors. In this course, Akhter Ahsen’s Image Model of Consciousness is organized through a lens of systems theory.
My early training was in Family Therapy which seeks to understand dynamic interactions in families. Family therapists have a unique way of understanding how families are structured into a system and how the family systems can be changed through changing underlying interactions. In Eidetic Imaging, the system of interaction is between seeing (the image) and the response created in the body (somatic response). This structure is the foundation of Ahsen’s ISM. (Image-Somatic Response-Meaning)
In the elective course, Dr. Ahsen’s image concepts are presented in the language of systems theory to provide context, to tell the mythic story of the image and the individual story of the subject. In addition, understanding the workings of a system and how it can be changed also offers solutions to resistance which is encountered often when a person attempts to resolve problems.
I am also working with St. Edward’s to develop Eidetic Imaging as a diagnostic to evaluate incoming students. An image is a projective device and therefore difficult to measure but, because a person’s image response can be recorded as a verbatim transcript and analyzed according to Ahsen’s ISM model, we can apply an objective measure to subjective experience.
The work of Akhtar Ali Syed is crucially important as a practical application of Dr. Ahsen’s image concepts. His Eidetic Model for Growth (EMG) puts the ISM model into action in a way that can be taught, measured, and expanded into many areas. It provides a foundation for understanding the power of Ahsen’s model.
Building Community through an Imagination Practice
The Eidetic Institute is building a community through a practice which follows Akhter Ahsen’s ISM model.
Image - Somatic Response - Meaning
Seeing - Feeling - Action
In this process, seeing ignites imagination which moves through the body to becomes manifest in the world. “I see” becomes “I show” “I hear “becomes “I tell”.
The interaction is completed when activities expressed by one person are seen or heard by another person and imagination is ignited again. In this way, Akhter Ahsen’s concept of co-consciousness becomes shared experience that is passed along from one person to another. A community of creative interaction is built as each Act of Imagination is received by another.
"I was introduced to Eidetic Imagery in 2005 by my mentor and friend Katy Swafford, Ph. D. I know Dr. Akhter Ahsen through experiencing his work and images. Eidetics changed my life, opening a portal to a deep, transformative healing from the well of my own imagination. It is my privilege to share Eidetic Imagery with my clients as they move through issues of grief and loss. Dr. Ahsen's work in the world will continue through the work of his students, even those of us who did not get the chance to meet him personally. Eidetics will continue to provide many with healing and wholeness."
Jennifer Miller Sabatier
Graduate Student working toward Masters in Consciousness and Transformational Studies
Grief Specialist and Nonprofit Consultant
In the Eidetic Elective course, students follow an “Imagination Practice” throughout the semester, recording how their images progress and how they are changed by the process. End of semester student presentations are called “Receptions”, an event in which half the class expresses how they have changed through visual storyboards, drawings, or written material as expressions of their experience. Each story is told in images. The other half of the class receives these expressive acts by bringing food and treats and by writing or drawing in response to what they see. Each response is then given to presenting student.
The feeling of union and acceptance at the reception was palpable and students have initiated and sustained contact as a group since semester’s end. Some of them have made contributions here...
Peggy Utecht, LCSW-S - From the beginning of my work in Eidetics and with Dr. Ahsen, I knew his work was special and I hung on his every word. As time passed, my understanding of Eidetics has continued to deepen and this is reflected in ongoing work with clients and my desire to express what I have learned for others to receive. I am so grateful that my life has been touched by Dr. Ahsen and his brilliant work.
Jill Adams, MA LPC - I was intrigued by Eidetics after experiencing it in a Theories class in my Master's program at St. Eds and sought out more training with Dr. Swafford during my practicum. My background is in visual art and creative learning and my experience in traditional cognitive psychotherapy felt limited in terms of actual solutions. All of theories I learned about felt like they focused on what the problem is-thinking, emotions, attachment, trauma, addiction, depression, etc… It seemed it was little directed at an actual long-lasting resolution. As a student, I kept coming back to Eidetics because it felt so different even though I couldn't explain what was happening. Working with these images positively shifted something in me in a way that completely bypassed all my cognitive "understanding" of change. There was a lightness, a playfulness, a joy to this work that resonated but what I didn't expect was how much the experience felt like a permanent shift. I'm now about 4 years in my own practice and my interest in Eidetics continues to deepen. It informs my whole-hearted belief that we are not broken people trying to fix problems. We are creative beings and we already have the solution inside our imagination.
Lorena Godbout - Through Eidetics I have found creativity, truth and community. The practice has given me the ability to embrace the complexity of my inner world and translate that into positive action in my outer world. Through Eidetics I have been able to give and receive love exponentially and feel excited to have the opportunity to share this gift with future clients, family and friends. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ahsen in person, it was easy to feel his wisdom and spirit through his words. I feel blessed to have even the slightest connection to such an incredible man.
Emily E. Harrison - Through Dr. Katy Swafford's mentorship, I have had the great pleasure of being introduced to Eidetic Imagery, and in turn experiencing the teachings and philosophy of the late Dr. Akhter Ahsen, with whom the practice is inseparable. I was personally drawn to the neurobiological healing possibilities afforded through the Eidetic practice because of my own experience as a cancer patient. As I have developed an Eidetic practice for personal healing and to foster health in my clients, I continue to find this modality transcends the limitations of circumstance and diagnosis by allowing the individual to rediscover their original potential, connect with inner resources, fully integrate body and mind, and garner the momentum to move in the direction of optimal mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing. The Eidetic practice is one of hope, affirming within us the limitless possibilities available to us in nature, in the collective consciousness of humanity, and in ourselves.
Maria Fernanda Perez - "Eidetic Therapy is the freedom to go places in your mind, beyond your imagination while encountering that special connection with your body through your feelings and emotions" (Mafer, 2019). Eidetic therapy taught me that the mind could overcome the limitations of the body; with only believing in the wonderful power we all possess, and by making use of the resilience and the neuroplasticity of the brain. Unfortunately for many people, it still lies dormant in the minds that have been victims of abuse and that have consequently been harmed in their self-esteem, as well as in those who do not believe in themselves.
As an LPC I will continue to use Eidetic therapy with my patients to help them recover their self-esteem, their potential to believe in themselves and above all to help them build that new resilient "I" that is inside each person and that can come out to light, with the right tools and help.
Claire Ashton - Eidetic Imagery was one of the first theories that I encountered as a counseling student that generated insight in a way that was approachable and non-threatening to the client. My own personal experience with Eidetics has been a journey of self-exploration that has helped be better understand myself as an individual and as a therapist. Running Stream imagery is something that I use frequently with clients in various settings -- private practice, intensive outpatient -- that seems to resonate regardless of acuity or diagnosis. Ahsen's contribution to the field of psychology has been an important one and I'm grateful for the work he dedicated to this area of study.
Laura Trione - I want to thank you for the privilege in sharing my experience of Dr. Ahsen's work. I have struggled with addiction my whole life, and at one point I had 10 years clean. I have worked closely with psychotherapists and psychiatrists for about 20 years, and it has helped some in managing my traumas and addictions. Towards the end of my completing a Master's degree I became triggered in my addiction and trauma, and experienced symptoms of second-degree trauma that resulted in a 2-year relapse. I knew I needed help, and was taking steps to get back on track. I believe it was no coincidence that one of my last courses of my degree program was with Dr. Swafford in her Eidetic Imagery course. While I did experience a great deal of resistance to some of the images and exercises, a few in particular stopped my urge to use since. In our final project for the course we were to bring in and present some of our artwork. This is where I shared my struggles and the effect my relationship with my tigers has had on my recovery with my class. I drew the images of my tigers, big, bold, strong, and beautiful. They continue to support me in making strides in my recovery and rediscovery of myself. I keep them by my front door where I see them every morning coming down my stairs, and every evening going to bed. I see them every time I leave and every time I come home. I see them every time I sit in my living room with my pets; working on whatever task I am working on at the moment. I imagine and feel them with me when I am away from home. This secure base of imagery and sensation is helping me rebuild a foundational relationship with myself. While I was saddened to hear of Dr. Ahsen's passing, I am grateful that the energy of his collective consciousness and that of his work will continue to exist.