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Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy Hardcover – February 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Real People, real life stories, and real emotional healing of past hurts and traumas!  In this book, Dr. Shapiro offers a collection of self-help techniques facilitating emotional healing based on EMDR therapy, used by thousands of clinicians and proven successful. Her true stories depict how stressful, painful or traumatic experiences influence our lives and block our potential – and how they can be changed and even resolved. An eye-opener to the layperson!
- Ruth Colvin
Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Co-Founder of ProLiteracy

Dr. Francine Shapiro presents a panoply of practical and powerful methods for processing unresolved memories and thus overcoming the anxieties that hold us back. A treasure trove of research-supported and EMDR-inspired techniques for achieving self-change and moving forward in life. Read it, try it, and reap the rewards!
- John C. Norcross, PhD, ABPP
Distinguished University Fellow, University of Scranton
Editor, Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session

Dr. Shapiro is a pioneer in the field of helping people overcome trauma and negative past experiences. Getting Past Your Past is a powerful book that will help people understand their own behavior and more importantly give them a set of tools to immediately help them be happier and more effective. I highly recommend it.
- Daniel G. Amen, MD
Author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

Francine Shapiro has given a life-transforming gift to the world by her rigorous development of a science-validated approach to soothing the suffering of our small and large life traumas. Through case examples and clearly articulated instructions within Getting Past Your Past our skillful guide takes us through the powerful and practical steps, derived from the treatment of literally millions of people, that can transform trauma into triumph. Explore this book with someone you love...beginning with yourself!"
- Daniel J. Siegel, MD
Clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine
Author of The Developing Mind and Mindsight

In Getting Past Your Past, Dr. Francine Shapiro, the developer of EMDR and one of the leading clinical innovators in psychotherapy, translates her groundbreaking method into practical suggestions for those who have been stuck in past events from which they have been unable to free themselves. Eminently readable, Dr. Shapiro has written a volume that is a wonderful resource for those in psychotherapy, as well as those seeking to help themselves. This is a valuable companion for anyone who seeks an understanding of how the past can be carried in our memory networks influencing how we perceive the world, as well as offering practical strategies for growth.
- Jeffrey J. Magnavita, Ph.D., ABPP
Past President of the Division of Psychotherapy of the American Psychological Association
Founder of the Unified Psychotherapy Project

Francine Shapiro's discovery of EMDR is one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of psychotherapy. Having used it as part of my practice for the past 15 years, I, and many of my patients, still marvel at the depth and speed with which it can help heal and change the minds and brains, and even bodily symptoms of people who have been locked in, and suffering from trauma, often for decades. Getting Past Your Past is a wonderful place to begin to understand how such mental healing can occur, filled with case histories of people that are so transformed that these accounts may seem exaggerated. They are not. This book has all the sobriety of a master clinician who has worked in the field of trauma for decades, and is clear, serious, helpful, as it shares with the reader a method of healing trauma that has already helped millions.
- Norman Doidge, MD
Author of The Brain That Changes Itself

In Getting Past Your Past, Francine Shapiro takes her innovative therapy, EMDR, to people everywhere, making the insights and strategies of EMDR treatment available to a broad audience. The transformation of EMDR treatment strategies into self-help techniques is yet another step in Shapiro's journey to make healing from trauma available to all. This book will be a valuable resource for therapists and clients alike, as well as for the many individuals who struggle with the effects of painful life experiences but who do not seek formal treatment.
- Laura S. Brown, Ph.D. ABPP
Past-President, APA Division of Trauma Psychology
Director, Fremont Community Therapy Project

I am forever indebted to Francine Shapiro and EMDR therapy, which helped me to heal from a terrifying panic disorder. People in pain will now be able to read this groundbreaking book and understand how disturbing memories can be reprocessed. Our lives can become joyful instead of fearful. We can live in the present instead of the past.
- Priscilla Warner, author of Learning to Breathe and coauthor of The Faith Club

Getting Past Your Past provides readers with powerful new insights to understand how traumas and disturbances of all kinds disrupt human potential, and how they can deal with their own distress. Through well-chosen case studies the reader shares the profound experiences of a wide range of individuals and learns the EMDR treatment strategies that have enabled clients to strip "visceral" feelings from memories as a turning point on their path to self-regulation and personal safety.
- Stephen W. Porges, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and self-regulation.

I am grateful to Francine Shapiro for having written Getting Past your Past, a lucid and practical book for transforming people's lives and helping them to savor living in the moment. EMDR is a powerfully effective treatment for overcoming the traumatic imprints of the past.
- Bessel van der Kolk MD
Medical Director Trauma Center, Justice Resource Institute
Director, National Complex Trauma Treatment Network
Professor of Psychiatry
Boston University School of Medicine

It appears that Dr. Francine Shapiro has discovered a profound linkage between the mind and body so that each might be healed. These stories of the rebalancing and revivifying of our dynamic nature reminds us that there are successful approaches to healing that are presently offering remarkable cures.
- Stephen and Ondrea Levine, authors of Who Dies?: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

Are you painfully enslaved by emotional roadblocks and/or poor relationship choices? Unprocessed memories could be the problem...and EMDR could be the answer. EMDR is a powerful, scientifically validated process that has helped millions of people reclaim their freedom. In Getting Past Your Past, Francine Shapiro makes her practical methods available to the public for the first time. This is self-help at its finest.
- Jeffrey K. Zeig, PhD
Director, The Milton Erickson Foundation
Director, Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

This self-help book is a cause for tremendous optimism. With EMDR the world finally has a therapy against the damaging effects of trauma, one that is scientifically proven to be effective and quick, low-cost, and widely applicable in a range of settings and cultural milieus. The future of the human potential‹and the world-- looks so much brighter for Francine Shapiro's discovery of EMDR.
- Rolf C. Carriere, former UN development professional and UNICEF
Representative in five Asian countries

About the Author

Dr. Francine Shapiro is the originator and developer of EMDR therapy. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, Director of the EMDR Institute, and founder of the non-profit EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs, which provides pro bono training and treatment to underserved populations worldwide. She is a recipient of the International Sigmund Freud Award for Psychotherapy of the City of Vienna, the American Psychological Association Trauma Psychology Division Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice in Trauma Psychology, and the Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology Award, from the California Psychological Association. As a result of her work, over 70,000 clinicians have treated millions of people during the past 20 years. She is an invited speaker at psychology conferences and universities worldwide, and has authored numerous articles, chapters, and books about EMDR therapy, including the primary text Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures. Her new book for both laypeople and clinicians is called Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159486425X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594864254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Francine Shapiro, PhD, is an American psychologist who is the originator and developer of EMDR (acronym for 'Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing'), a form of psychotherapy that was developed to resolve symptoms resulting from traumatic and other disturbing life experiences. Based on the positive results of many rigorous scientific studies, EMDR therapy is now recommended as an effective treatment for trauma in numerous international practice guidelines, including those of the American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Defense.

Dr. Shapiro is a recipient of the International Sigmund Freud Award for distinguished contribution to psychotherapy presented by the City of Vienna in conjunction with with the World Council for Psychotherapy, the American Psychological Association Division of Trauma Psychology Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice in Trauma Psychology, and the Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology Award presented by the California Psychological Association.

Dr. Shapiro is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, California, Executive Director of the EMDR Institute, Watsonville, CA, and founder and President Emeritus of the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs, a non-profit organization that coordinates disaster response and pro bono trainings worldwide. This organization is a recipient of the 2011 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Patti Levin on February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Life is cumulative. Past experience builds upon more experience and we
become who we are whether we're conscious of it or not. Memories of these
experiences are stored physically in the brain. Dr. Shapiro's book helps
people think about their lives and provides specific techniques to find the
links to make sense of who we are. She provides real life examples to which
one can relate, then suggests hands-on strategies and exercises that enable
the reader to connect the dots, make new decisions, take different actions,
and achieve the means to effect change and growth. However, nowhere in this
book does she recommend or mention moving one's eyes, nor does she suggest
self-administered EMDR, because that would be clearly unethical and
irresponsible. Rather, when an emotional problem is described, she offers a
variety of self-help techniques that can be safely used. In addition, she
offers guidelines for readers to decide if it would be useful to get
professional help with an experienced EMDR clinician.

Getting Past Your Past is full of accessible, empowering self-help
resources. It's a delight to read, difficult to put down, and has something
beneficial and fruitful for everyone.
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87 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Claire McCarthy on February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I first talked with Dr. Francine Shapiro about EMDR back in 2001 when her Humanitarian Assisstance Program was gearing up to work with emergency personnel and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. I found it a fascinating and important subject then, and was recently delighted to hear about this new book which explains in detail and in plain language, using real life examples, how EMDR works.

EMDR is best known for its effectiveness in treating people who have experienced major trauma--like natural disasters, war, rape or other crime, an abusive childhood and so on--quickly and hence inexpensively.

But what about the rest of us? Fortunately most of us are not combat veterans or rape victims. We may have made a few bad decisions in our lives, or occasionally have nagging thoughts about the past. Maybe a certain type of person always pushes our buttons, perhaps we find ourselves becoming anxious in situations that don't bother most people, or we may have trouble relaxing, concentrating or sleeping. Can EMDR work for us? This book shows how it can.

The book is enjoyable to read, and the exercises are easy to understand and to do. I have read a number of self-help books over the years, and this is certainly one of the best. I highly recommend it.
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103 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Miller on February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's not as if Francine Shapiro, the author of this important new book, hasn't already given more than a life's worth of gifts to us through the blessing of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Now she shares with us this marvel of a jewel that is a virtual manual for removing the effects of past pain and abuse and finding a deep inner peace. It puts a powerful self-healing tool into the hands of everyone - even those who don't have or can't afford a qualified therapist.
Not long after I met Dr. Shapiro for the first time at a training I was teaching in hypnosis and age regression techniques back in the 1980s, she began stopping by my office to share her remarkable research. She showed me videos of Vietnam Vets who had been suffering the effects of PTSD (flashbacks, insomnia, social avoidance) for more than ten years. As they responded to her carefully structured questions about their inner experiences and memories, she moved a finger back and forth in front of their eyes. Within as few as two or three sessions their symptoms would disappear. Each time she visited there were even more amazing things happening.
Soon she had developed a protocol and was teaching classes in how to apply this tool in a therapy session. I hurried to become certified, and now, some 25 years later, I have used this tool thousands of times - nearly always successfully, and often remarkably so. The principles of EMDR Therapy have become important elements in my practice of mind-body medicine and psychotherapy, as it has in the practices of so many others. I have integrated EMDR therapy with my cognitive restructuring and guided imagery approaches with remarkable success.
Read more ›
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Avid on April 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a feeling that the two people that wrote 3 star reviews with criticism didn't read the whole book. I just finished it, and I feel like the light has been turned on for me. Actually, it is better than that: I now know where the light switch is (the exercises used within the context of Dr Shapiro's model.) The stories of other people's lives are great, but the exercises that Dr Shapiro suggests have really connected the dots for me. I understand myself, my feelings, my automatic reactions, and my knee jerk responses. I also understand my strengths - and why some things get to me at times and not at other times. I am more understanding of why others behave as they do. You know how people always say "don't take it personally" or "it isn't about you?" Well I get it now - it really IS about their own past experience. I also get why the self care things people say are so important ARE so essential - in order to be present and respond to life from TODAY rather than the experiences of the PAST. I might decide to see an EMDR therapist at some point, but what I have gained so far is like finally being able to breathe. It is fascinating and freeing to have a window into myself and some techniques for change.

The book provides a link to some impressive research you can download: just google "EMDR GPYP Trauma Research Findings and Further Reading" AND I just found that Dr Shapiro has a column in the New York Times website that is pretty interesting too: just google "EMDR NYTimes"
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