Belief focused EMDR


The EMDR Approach to Psychotherapy is anchored by the Adaptive Information Processing Model. The Adaptive Information Processing Model is grounded on the theory that experiences, at their inception, are composed of sensory input, thoughts, emotions, and sensations. These experiences, along with all their associated components, become memories. These experiences shape our attitudes, behaviors and perceptions of self. When language is available, a core belief, which encapsulates all the components of that memory, becomes affixed to that memory. Once a memory is established, experiences of similar composition cluster to the initial memory, and over time memory networks develop.

The Adaptive Information Processing Model suggests that as new experiences are added to the memory network, that memory network upgrades itself, adding more adaptive perspectives and discarding the now no longer useful information. With each upgrade, our attitudes, behaviors and perceptions of self are also upgraded in an adaptive manner. The Adaptive Information Processing Model further suggests that when information is dysfunctionally stored, while additional experiences may cluster around the initial memory, that memory, and its growing memory network continues operating from its initial perspective. As such, emotions, sensations, attitudes, behaviors, do not have access to additional adaptive information. That memory network cannot be upgraded with new information. Therefore, that memory network continues to operate based upon its past learned core belief and perceptions. In this case, while the responses were adaptive at its inception, the responses now, are no longer functional. In some cases, the responses are now considered maladaptive or dysfunctional. Interventions are necessary to help link maladaptively stored memory network with more adaptive, current memory networks. In many cases, EMDR reprocessing is necessary to help facilitate the linkage and transmutation of the dysfunctionally stored memory network with existing, adaptive memory networks.

While many understand the EMDR Approach to Psychotherapy and the importance of the Adaptive Information Processing Model, many do not fully understand the value of clearly identifying the core negative and positive belief systems that resonate with the client’s presenting complaint. Many clinicians, believing they should stay out of the way regarding the client’s presenting complaint, simply ask the client what negative belief goes with the worst image representative of their disturbing experience, or give them a list of beliefs from which to select. and in between session.

This workshop will assist participants in understanding the value of collaboratively developing core beliefs that resonate with the client’s presenting complaints. Participants will learn and practice how to distil the client’s presenting complaint’s negative belief into a core, irrational belief as established during childhood. Additionally, participants will also learn and practice how to guide the client toward the most adaptive, adult positive belief that will allow the client to activate essential learning, behavior change and reconsolidation of learned experiences.






Roy Kiessling

Original Work Citation

Kiessling, R. (2011, April). Belief focused EMDR. Presentation at the 7th Western Mass EMDRIA Regional Network Spring Conference, Amherst, MA



“Belief focused EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 27, 2021,

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