EMDR Therapy Update on Theory, Research and Practice from Dr. Francine Shapiro

Dr. Francine Shapiro was a keynote speaker at the 2011 EMDRIA Conference. She emphasized that Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) is still the working hypothesis in why EMDR works. The wonderful part of EMDR therapy is that the client’s brain has inherent wisdom of how to heal. The bilateral stimulation used in EMDR therapy helps activate this inherent wisdom of the brain, so that the client can heal from traumatic events. Dysfunctional symptoms decrease and clients feel more positive about themselves.

EMDR therapy works on three levels:

  1. working on the past traumatic event
  2. any present day triggers, issues or symptoms
  3. future fears

When traumatic material is worked on in each of these levels, the memory integrates fully so that the client feels at peace with the past, empowered in the present, and able to make choices for the future. This is done in 8 Phases of treatment so that client feels ready, safe, and resourced to be able to do this work.

Important in this process is the rapport between the client and therapist. This connection allows clients to feel support enabling them to trust that they are capable of moving through past traumas.

Dr. Shapiro shared a story of what a client said about EMDR: “My therapist is the banister of the stairs that I climb.” This is a beautiful metaphor of how the therapist is there to support the client as the client is navigating traumatic material. The lasting effects of EMDR can change one’s life profoundly. Clients report that they relate to others in new ways, see new possibilities in their lives, feel stronger about themselves, and find a deeper appreciation for life

The last thing that Dr. Shapiro emphasized was the continued need for research in the field of EMDR, and that funding is necessary because of cutbacks. Anyone who can dedicate money for research should contact the EMDR Research Foundation (www.emdrresearchfoundation.org). Also, any research that can be done in your practice can benefit the support of EMDR throughout the world. The research foundation can help guide you on how to set-up case studies in your own practice.

I encourage those of you who have never attended an EMDRIA conference to check it out in 2012 in Washington DC. And those of you who did attend this year, to share the knowledge your learned with your fellow colleagues through networking events and consultation groups. Or you can comment on this blog.

Together we can support each other to make a difference in the world.


Click HERE if you like to make a donation to the EMDR Research Foundation:

Click HERE if you would like to attend the 2012 EMDRIA Conference: