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Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,091 ratings  ·  180 reviews
A totally accessible user’s guide from the creator of a scientifically proven form of psychotherapy
for healing ailments ranging from PTSD to minor anxiety and depression

Whether we’ve experienced small setbacks or major traumas, we are all influenced by memories and
experiences we may not remember or don’t fully understand. When we are stuck, talk therapy often
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Rodale Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  2,091 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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Jun 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I usually don't really like self-help books very much, but a friend recommended this to me after we had a conversation about EMDR therapy. It's a very interesting idea. Francine Shapiro discovered that traumatic experiences often caused problems for people down the line because they had been improperly processed - instead of storing them so that they could be used as a learning experience and placed within a healthy context, the trauma overwhelmed the brain's typical processing system. She also ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Getting Past Your Past is about trauma, PTSD and an exciting (if controversial) treatment modality (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) that reportedly gets very rapid, very dramatically effective results where other trauma treatments fail.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It's such an important subject. I have a very positive personal experience with Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). But it's not (in my humble opinion) very well written. So I didn't find it to be a v
Hester Rathbone
Jun 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I read this book for work, about a month after getting trained in how to use EMDR (the psychotherapy technique this book focuses on). This had been on our suggested reading list before the training, but I'm happy that I read it after. A lot of the techniques made much more sense having some basis and training in them.

There are parts of this book that I appreciated as a clinician - particularly in the early chapters, it gives a good sense of what happens that can make past memories and experience
Sarah Goodner
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've spent nearly my entire adulthood in therapy, trying to get past the first 15 years of my life. If someone had introduced me to EMDR 30 years ago, I think my path might have been much different. I could have skipped the painful self-sabotaging addictions, multiple divorces, always choosing the wrong men, etc., etc. This shit is like magic. Seriously. It's so simple, it seems stupid. But it WORKS.

So many of my triggers are gone now, neatly put away on a shelf in their proper order and importa
301 pages.
This is a very helpful book. Took lots of notes.
Rose Boyer
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
I like this book a lot and am going to read it again. The issue I had in the beginning was the occurrence of disturbing thoughts that came up by attempting to use the techniques. After getting a therapist and working through unprocessed memories I was able to return and read the rest of this book. It was a little over two years later. I wouldn't actually recommend this book to anyone who knows they have significant trauma. I would suggest figuring out a way to get therapy first. Today I am in a ...more
Amy  Katherine Wolff
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book very interesting. While I have had some sessions of EMDR and found those sessions to be successful, and reading this book helped me further understand EMDR, it raised questions for me too.

The way EMDR is presented in this book makes it sound like it is a basic "cure-all". It almost sounds too good to be true. This is where I become conflicted, as I have benefited personally from EMDR therapy, but I've found myself (as I read the book) emailing my counselor (who is trained in EM
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book for work and it was interesting and inspiring. Lots of case studies. Some would argue, too many case studies. it's bit hard to believe that EMDR could be this much of a cure all, because as we know from the seminal podcast Saw Bones, "cure alls cure nothing." However, I believe this approach has helped many, and I find that the techniques are helpful to me. ...more
Ali Hussein
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book. Surprising to see how even the smallest childhood memories can remain unprocessed within us and subconsciously harm us for many years. Highly recommend everyone to read this book.
Jul 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is perfectly titled, as the book provides exactly what it states. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and is a technique that has helped numerous people discover their unprocessed memories and learn to store them in a way that is no longer damaging. According to the author, the average individual has between ten to twenty unprocessed memories that are the source of our problems. Because these memories were never fully processed we still react to them with the ...more
Meg Kimball
Dec 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book is horrible.

I only read a little before bailing. The author's tendency to justify abusive actions was triggering to me, and I hoped and prayed that I was imagining things, but another reviewer here said the same thing. For example, a little boy's mom grabbed him and started spanking him because he was near the top of the stairs and wanted to chase a ball down. The author bends over backward to tell us that this wasn't abusive, and that the boy didn't grow up in a violent environment,
Tanja Berg
The stars is a reflection of the book, and not on EMDR therapy. EMDR is short for “Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” by bilateral stimuli that mimics REM sleep. When you process painful memories this way, your mind will desperately and automatically search for positive connections so that you reprocess it to be less distressing.

I’ve recently had some sessions and processed two episodes from about 20 years ago that were stuck in “fresh mode”. Every time I thought about it - I will no
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help, quotes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jerry Lane
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really amazing that she's unveiling so much. In fact I'm surprised that she's telling this much. However she does a good job of informed consent I think recommending seeing a therapist for people who experience discomfort or distress when doing some processing on their own. There is some concern that not everyone will be able to find a trained clinician however. As a newly trained clinician this has helped solidify my experience though. ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was required reading for an EMDR course I’m about to take. I’m still skeptical but looking forward to include this as a part of my practice. The book has a good overview about trauma and EMDR and lays out good arguments and support. The examples were helpful but I felt there were way too many.
Wendy LaCapra
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Years of therapy are behind me, but on occasion I still find myself neck deep in oppressive anxiety. I first read about EMDR in The Body Keeps the Score and wanted a deeper understanding. I wish I had found this book years ago. This is an excellent book full of helpful suggestions.
Oct 31, 2022 rated it liked it
The major thesis of this book is that unprocessed memories are the cause of most mental health concerns. Shapiro gives helpful exercises to explore the connections between troubling memories and associated pain, with a goal of replacing the pain with feelings of safety and helpful thoughts. I don’t like the miracle-cure language that’s used throughout the book (e.g., symptoms “disappear, never to return”) but I also think the techniques of EMDR hold real potential and I look forward to training ...more
Nov 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It explains emdr more in depth and gives studies to help prove it works. I listened to it and want to own the physical copy so I can go back and look at charts and other things she suggests we do.
Mar 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Extremely detailed and gives me an enormous amount to think about, as well as tools I could use on my own and substantive commentary on what I should take to therapy.

The thing is that it's just too insanely optimistic about how much EMDR can be useful for. I reserve the right to come back here and

Also, probably not a great pick for an audiobook. Way too much in the way of exercises to try on your own sometime OTHER than driving a company truck through rural Missouri to go log soil.
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Shapiro is the founder of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. This form of therapy looks at the events that cause specific emotional or physical reactions and traces these triggers back to the root cause. Then, using guided imagery, these unresolved events are processed.

EMDR Therapy is surprizing simple but the effects are phenomenal. It’s interesting to see how an unprocessed childhood memory, trauma, or simple misunderstanding can lead to unhealthy patterns and u
Molly Lyon
Aug 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Some of Shapiro’s techniques are pretty great, if seemingly a little “hippy-ish” on the surface. Her issues lie not in her technique but in how regularly apologetic she is on behalf of abusers and perpetrators. There is very few people that don’t understand that there were likely moments in their lives that led them down such a negative, destructive path, but KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. People are buying this book for help, therefore they are a victim, and don’t need your apologetic towards rapists driv ...more
Cindy Mccoy
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to read before first time EMDR session. Easy read and the excercises were helpful. I learned about myself. I had to take breaks from reading because my thoughts were overwhelmed with memories and feelings.
Patricia Murphy
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as an assignment since I am about to start EMDR therapy to treat my PTSD. I am looking forward to some relief. I was already able to implement some of these techniques to address triggers.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very good book fro the lay person on an introduction to EMDR concepts and how we respond to and heal from trauma.
This book was loaded with good stuff. If I took as many notes as I wanted I would just copy the whole thing.

Let's dive into the notes because these are good.

If there is a symptom then there is something that caused it.

Time doesn't always heal all wounds.

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR therapists The only therapist worth seeing so they can iron out all my flaws and get them rooted from my breast. How many unprocessed memories do I have? Dang (view spoiler)
Sep 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: therapy
This is an layperson's introduction to EMDR. The first few chapters are well-written, and I now better understand some of the basic techniques of EMDR, many of which I think can be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, things eventually begn to drag, and the second half of the book is a largely repetitive slog. ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Jack & Mary, Sonja's story were relatable, I would like to work on this process when I can return to a clinician's office. ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it
A very interesting type of therapy, conveyed in a light read. The unprocessed trauma and its harmful effects topic goes hand in hand with Gabor Mate's "When the body says NO". I recommend this book.

Jan 11, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EMDR therapy has been life changing for me and I think anyone would gain a lot of valuable information from reading this book.
Vanessa Werle
Jul 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
Read if for a six day EMDR training and great info but my brain is tired😄
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