Dr Darra J Murphy
Dr Darra J Murphy MB, BCh, BAO, MICGP (Ire), FRACGP, MFamMed, FASPM (Aus)
I am a medical graduate of University College Dublin (1976), a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP, 1983) and a Master of Family Medicine (Monash University, 1996). I am a Fellow and former President of the Australian Society for Psychological Medicine (ASPM) and have represented the RACGP on the Board of the Mental Health Professionals Network. I am the current Chair of the Psychological Medicine Group of the RACGP (2017-2019).
I spent 25 years in rural general practice, mostly in Gippsland (Victoria). This involved both community and hospital practice in emergency medicine, obstetrics, paediatrics, adult medicine and psychiatry. Along the way, I helped establish an Indigenous Health Service, a Rural Teaching Practice, a Regional GP Training Program, a Rural University Centre and a Division of General Practice. I finished my rural career as Director of Medical Services and Primary Care at Echuca Regional Health. Since 2004, I have been in private practice in Yarraville, an inner-western suburb of Melbourne.
As a GP with a specific interest in psychological medicine, I am deeply concerned about the overuse of psychotropic medication. When President of the ASPM (2014-2016), I helped to develop and implement a Basic Skills Program for GPs in Focussed Psychological Strategies, which was accredited by the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC). In 2015, I was admitted to the EMDR Institute as a Faculty Instructor in EMDR therapy.
I first learned about EMDR therapy in a lecture given by Dr Bessel van der Kolk in 1998, regarding 'trauma-informed' practice. I completed the EMDR Institute Basic Training with Sigmund Burzynski and Anthony Smith in 2000. Since moving to Melbourne, EMDR therapy has grown from representing ~25% of my clinical practice to ~75% . I trained as an EMDR Institute Facilitator with Sigmund (2010-2011) and went on to undertake 'trainer-training' with Dr Shapiro (2014), Sigmund and Dr Roger Solomon (2012-2015).
I am interested in the physiology of EMDR therapy and what it is teaching us about the brain, the body and the mind. I am concerned to distinguish 'EMDR treatment' (a set of procedures) from 'EMDR therapy' (a distinct approach to therapy). In keeping with Dr Shapiro's preference, I do not use the acronym (EMDR) on its own, as it fails to make this distinction and hence lacks clarity. My goal now is to educate the next generation of mental health professionals (GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and counsellors) about the science behind this physiological approach to therapy.
Finally, although I am not a trained psychoanalyst, I was fortunate to be mentored by a number of psychoanalytically trained GPs early on in my career. I regard psychoanalysis as the original 'trauma-informed' practice, particularly in terms of how to conceptualise and approach mental health problems. The renewed interest amongst neuroscientists in Sigmund Freud confirms to me that his relevance to psychotherapy and neuroscience is poorly understood and grossly under-estimated. Indeed I have been known to describe EMDR therapy to my colleagues as: 'psychoanalysis - on steroids'!