A Short Introduction to the AIP Model

The Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model is the foundation of EMDR therapy. It involves the transmutation of maladaptively stored memories into adaptive resolutions which facilitate psychological health. In order to apply EMDR effectively, clinicians need a framework to help them identify the appropriate target memories and processing order to achieve optimal treatment results. The AIP model contains a variety of predictions and tenets which involvenumerous potential agents of change.Online EMDR clinic will present some basic information on the AIP model.

The AIP model describes the basis of pathology,guides case conceptualisation and treatment procedures, and predicts positive clinical results. In agreement with other learning theories, itpostulates the existence of an information processing system which integrates new experiences into memory networks that already exist. The aforementioned memory networks are the foundation of behavior, perception, and attitudes. The perceptions of present situations are linked with associated memory networks.When working correctly, the inherent information processing system assimilates new experiences. The sensory perceptions of current experiences are integrated and associated with related information which is already stored in the memory networks.This allows us to understand our experiences. The relevant information is learned, deposited in memory networks in relation to appropriate emotions, and it remains available for future guidance.

However, inadequately processed experiences are the ones that cause problems. Shapiro’s AIP model postulates that a particularly painful experience may be stored in state-specific form, which means that it remains stuck in its own neural network, thus being unable to link with other memory networks which store adaptive information. Shapirohypothesises that when a memory is encoded in distressing, state-specific form, the initial perceptions can keep being triggered by a wide range of both internal and external stimuli, leading to inappropriate emotional, behavioral, and cognitive reactions, as well as easily observable symptoms (e.g., nightmares, high anxiety, intrusive thoughts). Due to the fact that perceptions of current experiences are connected to associated memory networks,inappropriately stored memories are considered to constitute the foundation of future maladaptive responses. Childhood events may also involve inappropriate feelings of danger for adults. Even so, these past events maintain their power due to their inappropriate assimilation into adaptive networks over time. The AIP model describes negative personality traits and behaviors as results of inappropriate lystoredmemories.

Although the AIP model considers pathology to be the result of unprocessed experiences, processed experiences are regarded as the basis of mental health. The EMDR protocol involves reaching the inappropriately stored information, using the standardized protocols and procedures (including bilateral stimulation) to stimulate the innate processing system, and enabling dynamic linkages to healthy, adaptive memory networks.These phases facilitate the change of the memory’s characteristics, due to the transmutation to an adaptive resolution.As noted by Shapiro, the AIP hypothesis seems to be consistent with several neuro biological theories of memory reconsolidation which bring forward the idea that accessed memories can be restored in an altered form.

In some ways, the AIP model is consistent with the emotional processing model,which is the foundation of the most popular exposure-based treatments. In short, Foa and Kozak suggested that two conditions must be met for fear reduction to take place. Firstly, the fear memory has to be activated. Secondly, there must be provided corrective information with components which are incompatible with the fear structure in order to generate a new memory. Once the new information is incorporated, the fear responses will diminish (through in-session and between-session habituation), thus enabling modifications in the meaning of the memory. The AIP model is similar to the extent that protocols and procedures allow the incorporation of new information and the accessing of the emotional networks. In exposure-based therapies such as prolonged exposure, the corrective information is considered to comeas a result of habituation and of the therapeutic situation. Even so, the changes which occur in EMDR indicate that clients incorporate new information not only from the therapeutic situation, but also from memories of past life experiences. The connection of information within and between memories seems to be spontaneous, without therapeutic intervention, rather than the result of recurrent and maintained memory exposure. Rogers and Silver concluded in 2002 that EMDR therapyis shown to be consistent with the process of assimilation, accommodation, and information processing, rather than with habituation. While these observations are speculative, they are nonetheless consistent with the fact that the target memory becomes adaptively stored as a result of reconsolidation, and not due to the changes that take place by forming a new memory.

As we have already discussed, the AIP model concurs with the idea that processing consists of the incorporation of new, corrective information. However, it does not consider the modifications in cognitive appraisal to be the key determinant. Instead, the AIP model describes processing as the integration of the inappropriately stored experience within already existing networks which contain adaptive information. Because of this, it highlights the fact that processing can only occur if positive memory networks have already been established. Thus, the history taking phase requires the therapist to assess whether the aforementioned positive networks exist, and topurposelyincorporate them in case they do not. This principleis also applied in EMDR clinical practice when processing stalls during treatment sessions. In such a case, the clinician has to imitatespontaneous processing, and they do so by accessing the next available positive network in the client’s history, or by infusing the information needed in order to form a positive network which can be linked in. Online EMDR clinic embraces the AIP model when using the standard protocol with EMDR processing.

While there are still many questions regarding the AIP model and its accuracy, there is also a growing body of research indicating that memories can contribute to pathology when it comes to numerous mental disorders. Research findings seem to support the extension of the range of disorders which are connected to inappropriately processed memories beyond PTSD and other trauma-based disorders. This is in accordance with the EMDR literature, in which the AIP model of EMDR has already predicted that there are other memory-based disorders besides PTSD and has connected many other disorders to inappropriately stored memories.

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