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Last updated on 1 August 2019

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR Therapy) 


Valé Francine Shapiro (PhD)
(18 August 1948 - 16 June 2019)
the originator and developer of EMDR therapy
Welcome to EMDR Therapy Training, the website of Dr Darra J Murphy.
I am a GP / Family Physician. The Basic Training in EMDR Therapy provided by me was written and developed by Dr Francine Shapiro herself on behalf of the EMDR Institute, the Training and Research organisation established by her in 1990. I was trained as a trainer by Dr Shapiro herself and two of her Senior Faculty Instructors and I was admitted to the EMDR Institute Faculty in 2015.

What is EMDR Therapy ?

EMDR Therapy  is a 'trauma-informed' and phased approach to psychotherapy, which integrates a host of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic (psychoanalytic) strategies with the use of bi-lateral stimulation (BLS).

Repetitive BLS (most commonly eye movements) appears to accelerate 'free association', through the physiological induction of an orienting response (OR). This may be similar to what occurs during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.


Eye Movement Desensitisation (EMD) was discovered by Dr Francine Shapiro as an effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 1987. The word Reprocessing (R) was added in 1991 and thus was 'EMDR' born. Later, in 2001, Shapiro wrote that if she had her time over she would have called it 'Reprocessing therapy'. This is reflected in the title of the last edition of her book: Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy:  'Basic principles, protocols and procedures' (Guilford Press, 2017). The reason is this:

Using the abbreviation 'EMDR' by itself leads to confusion as to whether one is talking about:

- EMDR Therapy:        Phases 1-8 of a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy, based on a 'trauma-informed' model;
- EMDR treatment:     Phases 3-6 of EMDR therapy (i.e. the 'procedure' for reprocessing a disturbing memory).
EMDR Therapy signifies the evolution of EMD into Reprocessing Therapy (Rand was Dr Shapiro's preferred term. In respect of her preference, therefore, the following abbreviations will be used as consistently as possible to define:
- EMD:                       the original procedure, developed to deal with PTSD related to a single event / memory;
- EMDR:                    the 'Standard Protocol' and 'Phased' approach, developed to address more than one memory);
- EMDR treatment:   targeting and reprocessing a disturbing memory, or Phases 3-6 of the 8-Phase approach;
- EMDR Therapy:      Phases 1-8, flexibly applied with variations to the 'Standard Protocol' and developed to address a                                        wide spectrum of psychopathology, from the most simple to the most complex.
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