EMDR and the Adaptive Information Processing Model–AIP

The brain has the capacity to integrate all of our experiences into our personal story so that our self-concept becomes more positive and unified—also known as Adaptive Information Processing, or AIP, developed by Francine Shapiro as the theoretical foundation of her ground breaking treatment approach, EMDR. However, our brains prevent overwhelming experiences from being integrated for years or decades afterward even when we safe from the original incident.  This results in disturbance within our neurological system–flashbacks, hypervigilance, dissociation, etc.—when situations remind us of the original event it causes us to react abnormally. The hippocampus (responsible for determining whether an experience happened in the past or is occurring now) is bypassed, giving the past traumatic experience the illusion of timelessness–the sense of being permanently stuck.   

However, under the right conditions (e.g., EMDR treatment) the conscious mind is able to recruit the resources it needs to tolerate focusing directly on the disturbance, label its various parts (image, self-denigrating belief, emotion, and sensation), and allow the unconscious mind to identify the point of origin of the trauma in the brain. Then, through collaboration between of the brain hemispheres, the trauma is integrated into our positive story. The brain actually removes the experience from its old neural network (close to the flight or fight area of the brain) and links it to a new neural network (in the front of the brain). To activate this accelerated hemispheric reprocessing, we must maintain a mindful focus on the disturbing memory while simultaneously sensing an external stimuli (scanning with eye movement, auditory, or tactile).

With EMDR, the brain ultimately removes negative beliefs and sensations from the event and attaches positive beliefs to the memory of the original event without the live sensations. The final stage of reprocessing is the ability for the mind, regardless of the situation, to view a once traumatizing event as part of our past, attach a positive meaning to it (e.g., I’m stronger for having survived it), be fully aware of the present, and imagine a hopeful future in which there is freedom to respond to situations in a functional way.  AIP, therefore, is a model which helps explain the brain’s natural internal healthy learning mechanism, and how it can be dramatically accelerated through bi-lateral stimulation to transform the way an event is experienced from the all three perspectives: past, present and future.

EMDR is well established worldwide, and is available in the Phoenix Metro area–Tempe–through Horton Counseling PLC.

Read More About EMDR

EMDR Therapy stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is a revolutionary therapy that has helped thousands of individuals deal with traumatic experiences and memories.  I have personally seen it change dozens of lives and highly recommend seeing if this could be right for you.

What is EMDR?

Description of EMDR (From EMDR.com)

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment.  Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.  As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.  For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.”  Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them.  Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.