Francine Shapiro

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Francine Shapiro
Alma materBrooklyn College
New York University

Francine Shapiro is an American psychologist and educator who originated and developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a form of psychotherapy for resolving the symptoms of traumatic and other disturbing life experiences.[1][2]

In 1987, she made the chance observation that moving her eyes from side to side appeared to reduce the disturbance of negative thoughts and memories.[3] This experience led her to examine this phenomenon more systematically. Working with approximately 70 volunteers, she developed standardized procedures to maximize therapeutic outcomes, conducted additional research and a published randomized controlled study with trauma victims.[4] After further research and elaboration of the methodology, she published a textbook in 1995 detailing the eight phases of this form of psychotherapy.[5] EMDR is recommended as an effective treatment for trauma in numerous international practice guidelines, including those of the American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Defense.[6]


Shapiro holds a BA (1968) and MA (1974) in English Literature from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. In 1974, while employed full-time as an English teacher, she enrolled in a PhD program in English Literature at New York University. In 1979, having completed all but her dissertation, she was diagnosed with cancer. Her post-recovery experiences shifted her attention from literature to the effects of stress on the immune system, based on the work of Norman Cousins and others.[7]

Over the next few years she participated in numerous workshops and programs exploring various stress reduction and self-care procedures. During that time, she enrolled in the Professional School of Psychological Studies, San Diego (which was not regionally accredited, but was approved by the state of California for psychologist licensure and is now defunct).[8][9][10] Her observations regarding the beneficial effect of eye movements, and the development of procedures to utilize them in clinical practice, became the basis of her dissertation. She received her PhD in 1988, and her thesis was published in the Journal of Traumatic Studies in 1989,[4] followed by an invited article that was published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.[11] She has since devoted herself to the development and research of EMDR therapy,[12] and founded the EMDR Institute, Inc.

Affiliations, presentations, publications[edit]

Shapiro is a senior research fellow emeritus at the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, California, executive director of the EMDR Institute, Watsonville, California, and founder and president emeritus of EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs, a non-profit organization that coordinates disaster response and pro bono trainings worldwide. The organization is a recipient of the 2011 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence. Shapiro was designated as one of the “Cadre of Experts” of the American Psychological Association & Canadian Psychological Association Joint Initiative on Ethnopolitical Warfare, and has served as advisor to a wide variety of trauma treatment and outreach organizations and journals. She has been an invited speaker at psychology conferences and universities worldwide,[13] and has written and co-authored more than 60 journal articles, chapters, and books about EMDR,[14] including the primary text Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures.[15] She is a licensed clinical psychologist currently residing in Northern California.


As the originator of EMDR, Shapiro is a recipient of a variety of awards, including the International Sigmund Freud Award for Psychotherapy of the City of Vienna in conjunction with the World Council for Psychotherapy, the American Psychological Association Trauma Psychology Division Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice in Trauma Psychology, and the Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology Award presented by the California Psychological Association.


  • Shapiro, F (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. Guildford Press. ISBN 1-57230-672-6
  • Shapiro, F (Ed.) (2002). EMDR as an Integrative Psychotherapy Approach: Experts of Diverse Orientations Explore the Paradigm Prism. APA. ISBN 1-55798-922-2
  • Shapiro, F. (2012). Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy. New York: Rodale. ISBN 1-59486-425-X
  • Shapiro, F & Forrest, M S (2004). EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Trauma. Basic books. ISBN 0-465-04301-1
  • Shapiro, F., Kaslow, F., & Maxfield, L. (Eds.) (2007). Handbook of EMDR and Family Therapy Processes. Wiley. ISBN 0-471-70947-6
  • Solomon, M.F., Neborsky, R.J., McCullough, L., Alpert, M., Shapiro, F., & Malan, D. (2001). Short-Term Therapy for Long-Term Change. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-70333-9


  1. ^ Shapiro, F. & Solomon, R. M. (2010). EMDR. In I. Weiner and W.E.Craighead (Eds.). The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology (4th edition). Vol. 2 Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  2. ^ Olga Khazan. "EMDR Eye Movement Therapy for Victims of Trauma and PTSD - The Atlantic". The Atlantic.
  3. ^ "History of EMDR | EMDR Institute – EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  4. ^ a b Shapiro, F. (1989). Efficacy of the eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of traumatic memories. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2, 199-223.
  5. ^ Shapiro, F. (1995). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. New York: Guilford Press.
  6. ^ "What is EMDR?".
  7. ^ Cousins, N. (1979). Anatomy of an illness as perceived by the patient: Reflections on healing . NY: Norton
  8. ^ "Diploma mill". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved December 28, 2011. Dr. Francine Shapiro--the creator of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy--got her doctorate from the now defunct and never accredited Professional School of Psychological Studies.
  9. ^ California Postsecondary Education Commission (1990). California Colleges and Universities. “Approved: Section 94310.2 of the Education Code permits the Superintendent of Public Instruction to grant approval to those institutions that have been evaluated favorably by the Private Postsecondary Education Division as being consistent with accredited institutions in terms of quality.” (p.286)
  10. ^ "Accredited Programs in Clinical Psychology". American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  11. ^ Shapiro, F. (1989). Eye movement desensitization procedure: A new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 211- 217.
  12. ^ Luber, M. & Shapiro, F. (2009). Interview with Francine Shapiro: Future directions for EMDR. Journal of EMDR Science and Practice, 3, 217-31.
  13. ^ Presentations Archived November 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Publications Archived November 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures (2nd edition). New York: Guilford Press.

External links[edit]