Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach guided by the adaptive information processing (AIP) model. This article provides a brief overview of some of the major precepts of AIP. The basis of clinical pathology is hypothesized to be dysfunctionally stored memories, with therapeutic change resulting from the processing of these memories within larger adaptive networks. Unlike extinction-based exposure therapies, memories targeted in EMDR are posited to transmute during processing and are then again stored by a process of reconsolidation. Therefore, a comparison and contrast to extinction-based information processing models and treatment is provided, including implications for clinical practice. Throughout the article a variety of mechanisms of action are discussed, including those inferred by tenets of the AIP model, and the EMDR procedures themselves, including the bilateral stimulation. Research suggestions are offered in order to investigate various hypotheses.
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Greenwald: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has already been defined by at least one EMDR-focused professional association as inextricably based on Shapiro’s (2001) eight-phase protocol and adaptive information processing (AIP) model. This commentary argues that given the lack of data supporting an exclusive preference for Shapiro’s constructs, EMDR’s definition should not preclude legitimate alternative conceptualizations. Since definitions may be used for many inclusive and exclusive purposes with impact on EMDR’s development, dissemination, practice, and reputation, EMDR’s definition should be reconsidered. Shapiro: Greenwald’s arguments and suggested redefinition are examined in relation to EMDR research, theory and practice. As evaluated in numerous studies, EMDR is a distinct, eight-phase integrative psychotherapy approach that consists of numerous procedures and protocols, which were formulated and are conducted in accordance with the principles of the AIP model. Research and published clinical case reports have validated both its utility and predictions of positive treatment outcomes with a variety of populations. Professional implications are explored.