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.