EMDR primer gives theoretical information in bite-size pieces

An EMDR Therapy Primer: From Practicum to Practice 3rd Ed.

Barbara J Hensley

Springer Publishing Company


Since starting my basic training in EMDR, the second edition of this text had been my constant companion. Well thumbed, decorated with splashes of fluorescent marker pen and a smattering of coffee cup rings, it has lived either by the side of my laptop and, more recently, underneath it for optimum height during Zoom sessions. And then earlier this year, along came the third edition in both paperback with digital access and kindle versions. Not wanting to miss out on any new applications to practice, I invested in the paperback as soon as my Amazon account would allow.

Fully revised, this third edition is written to reflect the development of EMDR into an integrative psychodynamic approach. As in earlier editions, this text is intended for use as a companion to Francine Shapiro’s book Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy (2018), now also in its third edition.  The preface, written by Shapiro herself opens with Aristotle’s words “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit”. For me, this sentiment highlights the foundation of autonomous learning that is needed before the Standard Protocol (SP) can be used intuitively and creatively to enable change for the person sitting with you.

We are what we repeatedly do

As with the second edition, this latest offering breaks down theoretical information drawn from the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model into manageable bite-size pieces that help with the overwhelm that is often felt when first using this approach. It is written in an accessible and conversational style and, over eight chapters, leads the reader through a comprehensive review of the AIP model, EMDR principles, protocols and procedures, making it relevant to both new and experienced clinicians.

Hensley has woven an impressive amount of new information relating to components of memory, precepts of EMDR therapy and adaptive information processing throughout the eight chapters. In terms of content and structure of the text, there are three significant changes worth noting. Firstly, chapter six includes reworked case examples. These take the reader through examples of working with the eight-phase protocol in the past, present and future. This chapter ends with a useful section focussing on what Hensley calls “Derailment Possibilities” which provide a comprehensive list for troubleshooting.  Chapter seven begins to attend to difference and considers issues particular to specific populations. Work with military and veteran, child and culturally diverse populations are included here. Lastly, chapter eight has been reworked from a collection of appendices into a comprehensive collection of resources, scripts, and exercises.

This edition has already earnt its place by my side. However, no text is ever without its growing edges and, for me, Hensley might have included more on our diversity as humans. Future editions could usefully attend to other intersections of diversity such as socio-economic status religion, age, and disability. Lastly, a shout out to another favourite text that keeps this one company and, in my opinion, complements it well: Jamie Marich’s (2011) EMDR Made Simple: 4 Approaches to Using EMDR with Every Client has her wonderfully creative approach stamped all over it and includes chapters that specifically address complex PTSD, addictions, grief, loss and spiritual concerns which I have found particularly useful in my clinical work.

Dr Sione Marshall is an Independent Clinical Psychologist and Accredited Europe EMDR Practitioner.


Marich, J. (2018) EMDR Made Simple: 4 Approaches to Using EMDR with Every Client. Premier Publishing and Media, Eau Claire.