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STEPS

 and INTERVENTIONS in  the  ATTACHMENT INJURY RESOLUTION MODEL (AIRM)

Cycle   De-­‐escalation   Related   to   the   Injury  

Step  1.  The  injured  partner  articulates  the  injury  and  impact  of  an  event  in  which  she  
/  he  felt  betrayed,  abandoned,  helpless,  and  experienced  a  violation  of  trust  that  
damaged  belief  in  the  relationship  as  a  secure  bond.  The  recollection  is  not  calm  but  is  
painfully  alive.  

Therapist’s  task:  Process  injured  partner’s  account  of  the  incident  of  injury  –  
(repainting  scene   and  articulating  the  “never  again”  impact.  Validate  secondary  
emotions.    
Interventions:  
Empathically  reflect  secondary  emotions  
Validate  emotional  realities,      
Track  and  Reflect    

Step  2.  The  offending  partner  frequently  discounts,  denies,  or  minimizes  the  incident  
and  his/her  partner’s  pain  and  moves  into  a  defensive  stance.    

Therapist’s  task:  Process  offending  partner’s  response  and  account.  


Interventions:  
Empathically  reflect  secondary  emotions  
Validate  emotional  realities,      
Track  and  Reflect  

Step  3.  Injured  partner  integrates  narrative  and  emotion  and  accesses  attachment  
fears  and  longings  associated  with  injury  event.  

Therapist’s  task:  Support  injured  partner  to  stay  in  touch  with  the  injury  –  unpack  
secondary  emotional  reactions  and  access  the  core  pain  of  the  experience.    

Interventions:  
Reframing  in  the  context  of  the  cycle  and/or  underlying  attachment  
emotion  and  needs    
Empathic  Conjecture  
Evocative  Responding  
Heightening    
Validating  
Empathic  Reflection  of  secondary  emotion  reactions    

Step  4.  Offending  partner  begins  to  hear  and  understand  the  significance  of  the  event  
and  to  expand  on  how  it  evolved,  so  that  he/she  becomes  predictable.  
Therapist’s  task:  Support  offending  partner  to  unpack  secondary  emotional  reactions,  
and  to   become  accessible  to  the  attachment  significance  of  the  incident  for  the  partner,  
and  to  elaborate  on  how  the  incident  evolved.    
Interventions:  
                         Reframe  in  the  context  of  the  cycle  and/or  underlying  attachment    
                           emotions  and  needs    
Empathic  Conjecture  
Evocative  Responding  
Heightening    
Validating  
Empathic   Reflection   of   underlying   attachment-­‐-­‐-­‐related   emotions    
     
 
   
New  Cycles  of  Emotional  Engagement  –  Forgiveness  and  Reconciliation  
 
Step  5.  Injured  partner  moves  toward  a  more  integrated  articulation  of  the  injury  and  
ties  it  to  attachment  bond.  
 
Therapist’s  task:  Process  injured  partner’s  primary  emotional  experience  of  
the  injury  and  expression  to  partner,  letting  partner  witness  his/her  
vulnerability.  
Interventions:      
Empathic   Reflection   of   underlying   attachment-­‐-­‐-­‐related   emotions  
Evocative  Responding  
Heightening  
Restructuring  and  shaping  enactments  
 
Step  6.  Offending  partner  becomes  more  emotionally  engaged  and  accesses  a  “felt  
sense”  of  partner’s  pain   and  is  moved  by  partner’s  pain.  His  or  her  face  mirror’s  
partner’s  pain  and  s/he  acknowledges  responsibility  for  his  or  her  part  and  expresses  
empathy,  regret,  and/or  remorse.    
 
Therapist’s  task:  
Process  offending  partner’s  primary  emotional  responses  (sadness,  remorse,   regret,  
empathy  for  injured  partner)  -­‐-­‐-­‐  to  facilitate  a  “felt  sense”  of  partner’s  pain.  Promote  
owning  responsibility,  expressing  empathy  &  regret/remorse  –  while  staying  
attuned  /  engaged.  (I  feel  your  hurt.    Your  pain  impacts  me).    
Interventions:      
Empathic   Reflection   of   underlying   attachment-­‐-­‐-­‐related   emotions  
Evocative  Responding  
Heightening  
Restructuring  and  shaping  enactments  
 
 
Consolidation  

Step  7.  Injured  partner  risks  asking  for  the  comfort  and  caring  (or  accepting  if  it  has  
already  been  offered)  that  was  unavailable  at  the  time  of  the  injury.  

Therapist’s  task:  
Process  injured  partner’s  accessibility  and  responsiveness  to  partner’s   emotional  
expressions  (acceptance  of  apology  and  empathy  for  offending  partner’s  
experience).  Support  expression  of  attachment  needs  related  to   injury.  
Interventions:      
Empathic   Reflection   of   underlying   attachment-­‐-­‐-­‐related   emotions  
Restructuring  and  shaping  enactments  
Validating  client  emotional  realities  

Step  8.  Offending  partner  responds  in  a  caring  manner  that  acts  as  an  antidote  to  the  
traumatic  experience.  This  bonding  event  is  an  antidote  to  the  traumatic  experience.  
Relationship  is  redefined  as  a  safe  haven.  
Therapist’s  task:  
Process  offending  partner’s  responsiveness  to  injured  partner’s  expressed  
needs.  Support  partner’s  response  
Interventions:      
Empathic   Reflection   of   underlying   attachment-­‐-­‐-­‐related   emotions  
Restructuring  and  shaping  enactments  
Validating  client  emotional  realities  
Heighten  the  antidote  bonding  event.  (Relationship  is  redefined  as  
potential  safe  haven.)  
Therapist’s  task:  
Support  partners  to  create  new  narrative  of  event:  
Interventions:      
Evocative  Responding  
Empathic  Reflection  

From:    Zuccarini,  D.,  Johnson,  S.  M.,  Dalgleish,  T.L.,  &  Makinen,  J.  A.  (2013).  Forgiveness  
and  Reconciliation  in  Emotionally  Focused  Therapy  for  Couples:  The  Client  Change  
Process  and  Therapist  Interventions.  Journal  of  Marital  and  Family  Therapy,  39,  pp,  
148-­‐162.