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EMDR Therapy: Recovering From Trauma using Bilateral Stimulation and the AIP Model

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Hi there! Welcome to our blog. In this blog post we will be talking about Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, or EMDR for short. This is an evidence-based therapy that helps treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. So, let's dive right in and explore how EMDR works.

EMDR Therapy

The AIP Model:

EMDR is built upon the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, a concept developed by psychologist Dr Francine Shapiro, the brilliant mind behind EMDR therapy. The AIP model suggests that our brains are naturally wired to process and integrate our experiences, including distressing ones. However, when we experience traumatic events, this natural process can become disrupted, which causes traumatic memories to remain "stuck" and unprocessed.

These unprocessed traumatic memories contain information related to what was experienced during the traumatic event e.g. sensory information, emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. The repeated confrontation with these lead to the development of the psychological symptoms of PTSD.

Bilateral Stimulation:

Now, you might be wondering, how does EMDR address these unprocessed memories? Well, here's where the magic of bilateral stimulation comes into play. Bilateral stimulation involves gentle back-and-forth movements, such as eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones, that mimic the brain's natural processing patterns during REM sleep.

During an EMDR session, the therapist would guide you to focus on distressing memories while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This process helps unlock the stuck memories and allows your brain to reprocess them in a more adaptive manner resulting in the reduced emotional intensity of the memory and a reduction in the

distressing symptoms associated with PTSD.

Other techniques used in EMDR:

Beyond the super effective bilateral stimulation, EMDR therapy also involves various other techniques that contribute to its effectiveness in helping individuals recover from trauma and in alleviating PTSD symptoms. For example, EMDR therapy involves cognitive restructuring. This is where negative thoughts/beliefs associated with the trauma memory are identified, challenged and replaced with more positive and realistic ones. EMDR therapy also teaches coping skills to help manage distress such as relaxation techniques, grounding exercises, and self-soothing strategies.

EMDR for other issues:

EMDR therapy is commonly known for its effectiveness in treating PTSD, however, it is also effective for the treatment of other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, phobias, depression and grief.

If you would like to discuss EMDR therapy with one of our therapists, contact us and we would be more than happy to help.


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