Book Review: Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

Francine Shapiro’s landmark text on EMDR is the starting point for the EMDR practitioner. Shapiro is clear and articulate in her exposition of EMDR and works through the book in a logical and systematic manner. The book is 472 pages long and begins with Shapiro’s story of overcoming cancer and moving away from English Literature and developing an interest in the emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology. There is the story of how she was walking in the woods and on looking upwards, noticed a change in the emotional content of a memory she was recalling – a story which has now almost reached mythical status in EMDR circles.

Shapiro moves through her initial period of developing the EMDR protocol through repeated testing which involved her varying the technique and monitoring the results. There is then a description of the eight stages of the EMDR process and each stage has an extensive section of the book devoted to it, focusing down from the top level to the subtle nuances that Shapiro has noted whilst developing the system. There are various other techniques covered in more detail including the cognitive interweaves to overcome blocked processing. Then the book finishes off with some theoretical considerations. Here Shapiro shows the breadth of her insights into different forms of psychotherapy as well as relevant neurbiological considerations before focusing on the scientific testing of EMDR.

This book is a very important one in the field of psychotherapy, as it details the origin of EMDR by the creator of the system herself. The most impressive theme running through the book is Shapiro’s unrelenting need to look at the evidence base and to push research forwards. This no doubt has contributed to the burgeoning evidence base for EMDR and to its rapid inclusion within many national and international guidelines for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This book is indispensable for EMDR Practitioners.


Francine Shapiro. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures. Second Edition. 1992.

Potential Conflict of Interest

I practise EMDR and may therefore have been biased in selecting this book for review.


The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s