American psychologist Francine Shapiro, best known as the originator of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), has died at age 71.
Dr. Shapiro reportedly passed away on Sunday, June 16, 2019. Her cause of death was not revealed in any public statements.
EMDR International Association paid a tribute to her life and work with Carol Miles, the President of EMDRIA, saying in a statement in the wake of Dr. Shapiro’s death:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Francine Shapiro, the originator of EMDR therapy. Dr. Shapiro dedicated her life’s work to the development of this transformative psychotherapy model. Her research, perseverance, dedication, and passion led the way to create a path to recovery for an inestimable number of people around the world. Dr. Shapiro’s legacy lives on through her work, the EMDR community, and those who have found healing and hope through EMDR therapy.”
What is EMDR?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a psychotherapy treatment developed by Dr. Shapiro in the late 80s and early 90s.
The treatment involves the patient recalling traumatic events while the EMDR trained therapist directs their eye movement. According to Healthline, EMDR is believed to reduce the effects of PTSD and other traumatic events by diverting your attention. It can help reduce the psychological response of the trauma.
Dr. Francine Shapiro’s accomplishments
Francine Shapiro received numerous awards for her work in EMDR including the International Sigmund Freud Award for distinguished contribution to psychotherapy.
She authored numerous articles and books about EMDR. Dr. Shapiro was a Senior Research Fellow Emeritus of the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. She founded the EMDR Institute and the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs.
Many tributes have poured in celebrating Dr. Shapiro’s contributions to psychology.
Francine Shapiro has died. She not only invented EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and enabled tens of thousands of traumatized people find relief. She helped practitioners help with minimum compassion fatigue because both client and practitioners saw results. pic.twitter.com/p7W8OCJFB1
— Charles Figley, Ph.D. (@charlesfigley) June 18, 2019
— EMDR Academy (@emdracademy) June 19, 2019
On behalf of the Dutch EMDR Association, I want to express my condolences for the loss of Francine Shapiro. We will guard her ideas well and continue on the path she has taken. She will never be forgotten. R.I.P. Francine pic.twitter.com/D7SGzOcrCu
— Annemieke Driessen (@AnneDrie73) June 18, 2019
EMDR associations operate in numerous countries and many patients credit the therapy for treating their PTSD and associated disorders.