Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a:

is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In EMDR, the person being treated recalls distressing experiences whilst doing bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movement or physical stimulation, such as tapping either side of the body.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a:

pseudoscientific approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States, in the 1970s.

NLP Akademie Schweiz published a history of EMDR and similar treatments, with articles by, among others, Connirae Andreas and John Grinder. They suggest that EMDR was derived from earlier NLP principles.

In particular, they claim Francine Shapiro worked for Grinder:

John Grinder is quoted (from an email):

Francine Shapiro worked in my office (the company of Grinder, Delozier and Associates, Inc., GDA) on17th Ave in SantaCruz, California in the early ’80’s. She was a harding working woman and we all appreciate the quality of her work there.

The document also includes a copy of an article Shapiro purportedly wrote for Holistic Life Magazine in 1985. In it, she describes the NLP theory of eye accessing cues.

If that's true, it makes sense to see EMDR to be heavily inspired by NLP, yet in Francine Shapiro public accounting of how she invented EMDR she doesn't speak about her NLP influence.

Are the claims of her having written that article and worked for Grinder true?


1 Answer 1


Gerald M. Rosen wrote an article Revisiting the Origins of EMDR for the Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. In it, he writes:

It was in 1985 that Shapiro published an article in Holistic Life Magazine and discussed Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) theories on various topics including the importance of eye movement patterns (Shapiro, 1985, pp. 41–43)

The article also suggests that she had a working relation with Grinder:

In a separate interview that same year (Bonasia, 1985) Shapiro reported: “We can be objective because we have no vested interest in any of the technologies we study. And right now, NLP is absolutely the most effective because of its wide range of applications.“ Bonasia reported that Shapiro also claimed NLP could improve one’s personal life, health and love relations, as well as one’s career. The article closed with this announcement: “Shapiro and Grinder have scheduled two free NLP workshops on January 23 and 30, for those who would like to learn more. The pair can be contacted at the Human Development Institute.“

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