By: Chelsea Robinson
What should you consider doing before reading this blog?
- Phone a friend.
- Read part 1 first. (hint: Go with this!)
- Take a walk.
What else does bilateral stimulation (BLS) do? What is the adaptive information processing (AIP) model?
During EMDR, BLS activates adaptive information processing—somewhat of a cognitive special effect that helps clients access, de-clutter, and re-organize the traumatic memories that are dysfunctionally stored in their memory network. The memory network is an intricate internal map that links everything to everything and is responsible for people associating independence holidays with fireworks, missiles, and interpersonal violence traumatic memories—for example; it’s a portal to the past. After trauma, our memory network becomes contaminated with mounds of negative memory components (e.g. images and physical sensations), which hinders long-term relief and prevents us from recalling the positive aspects of our life experiences—even the traumatic experiences.
After trauma, the brain automatically yet inadequately processes portions of what happened, which helps survivors gain insight and adopt a different, slightly more adaptive or positive outlook on what occurred. However, residual disturbing content often lingers and continues to invade the memory network. Overall, the adaptive information processing (AIP) model says that mental and even physical health challenges arise post-trauma when the disturbing memory is repressed or packed away completely, unprocessed, partially processed, and clutters the memory network channels; it also says that processing memories promotes overall health and stability. Activating AIP via BLS keeps the de-cluttering and re-organizing process moving at more of an accelerated rate so that clients can learn, heal, and experience relief sooner rather than later.
What else does adaptive information processing (AIP) do?
Via AIP, EMDR therapy changes a person’s relationship with their traumatic experience; the intervention helps clients practically divorce the trauma by creating mental and emotional distance between the person and the memory, making the past experience less vivid and triggering. EMDR also drastically reduces the dangerously high voltage connected to the traumatic memory, lowering it to substantially low or zero voltage. Know that EMDR does not ‘erase’ memories; remember that the intervention helps clients adequately de-clutter, re-organize, and store traumatic experiences—versus toss them in the garbage bin. Overall, EMDR therapy helps clients integrate their trauma or realize that the experience is now merely a mental event, a memory that traces back to the past.
We can easily compare adaptive information processing to the act of cleaning a messy room—without discarding any items. Before EMDR sessions, clients often feel trapped and forced to live in a room that’s cluttered and nearly uninhabitable, which leaves them feeling alarmed, numb, or stuck:
After consistently participating in EMDR sessions, clients feel liberated, calm, relieved—and are able to adopt a fresh perspective on the past, present, and future.
If you’re interested in consuming additional details about EMDR Therapy or want to see whether or not this could be a best fit intervention for you, consider reaching out to an EMDR Trained or Certified therapist today.