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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. 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 movement) 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, she wrote that if she had her time over she would call it 'Reprocessing therapy'. Indeed, this reflected in the title of the most recent edition of her "Basic principles, protocols and procedures.: (2017). The reason is this:

Using the abbreviation 'EMDR' 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 'procedures' for reprocessing a disturbing memory).
EMDR therapy signifies the evolution of EMD into Reprocessing therapy (R) and 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', used to address more than one event / memory);
- EMDR treatment:   targeting and reprocessing a disturbing memory, or Phases 3-6 of the Eight Phase approach;
- EMDR therapy:      Phases 1-8, flexibly applied, with variations to the Standard Protocol (Past / Present / Future) and 
                                  used to address a wide spectrum of psychopathology, from the most simple to the most complex.
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