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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,375 ratings  ·  115 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 4.07  · 
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 ·  1,375 ratings  ·  115 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
Erica Henry
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
Sarah Goodner
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: opi-hawaii
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
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.
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
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
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.
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tammy by: Dr W
Shelves: quotes, self-help
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Maria Virginia
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Frankly, I think every adult should read this book as it shows us how unprocessed memories from our past affect our perceptions and behaviors. As you read, you will learn if you can apply EMDR therapy to yourself, or if, due to deeper traumatic events in your life, you need to seek clinical EMDR therapy from a quality and qualified professional. Check out my full book review here: ...more
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.
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.
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.
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.
Colette Fehr
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)
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.

Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book describes the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. The author is the inventor of this therapy and explains the reasoning why it helps and the way it works. Namely, by processing memories in the past you are ready to move forward and get rid of the belief/fears/thoughts that hold you back. The real gem of the book is the plethora of examples that are provided in the book. Each example is an indicator or at least provides some ground to think about things that mig ...more
Darrell McCauley
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-health
Provided a clear picture of the basis and approach used in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars. This was great for me personally.
Cheryl Bradshaw
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mental-health
A book that can make the ideas from EMDR accessible to everyone - if you are thinking of trying this therapy (highly recommend!) then start with this book. It can save you time (and money) when then sitting down with your therapist when you're ready to start in-session work. Definitely something every person should have a look at when they are ready to tackle the big things from their past.
Nicole Perry
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I'm starting to notice a trend in the books I appreciate most. They often include unique experiential exercises to try out to support healing. This is what I love so much about this book. After trying the techniques out of myself, I wrote them out and tried a few out with clients, and overall people really seemed to like them.

The exercises are geared strongly toward folks who feel like their past is still running their lives - whether in the form of visual flashbacks, feelings of overwhelm, pai
William Schram
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Getting Past Your Past by Dr. Francine Shapiro utilizes Eye Movement Desensitization and Remodeling (EMDR) therapy to help you overcome your struggles. My first impression is one of confusion because I don’t actually know what EMDR is. However, it does sound quite interesting so I continue reading.

The idea of EMDR is to allow yourself to process memories or sensations that might be affecting your cognition in the present. It is based on the idea of digesting experiences when you sleep using Rapi
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
I appreciated the fact that this book didn't feel like a manual and wasn't bogged down by research. It was an easy read that was interesting. The author spoke about how she came up with EMDR and how it transformed into a therapy that is helpful to many people all over the world. I found it interesting to read about each of the case studies that were presented though out the book. It made the concepts easier to understand by looking at them through the examples of clients of the authors and her c ...more
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am finding this book interesting. It was written by the person who founded this therapy, Francie Shapiro and delves into many different aspects of "problem" area that could be addressed by this therapy. These range anywhere from pyschosomatic areas such as phantom limb pain to relationship issues, etc.

She also gives techniques to follow, self help steps, etc. which are very useful.

All in all, not a cure all, like she claims but interesting theory of how unprocessed memories (beliefs?) drive u
Tom Britz
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good read for those that want to learn about EMDR and how it can help trauma survivors. It gives a lot of short personal stories to illustrate various aspects of EMDR and how it was able to help. However Francine Shapiro (the "inventor" of EMDR) makes it sound like EMDR has flourished throughout the world. I live near a large city and when I tried to contact someone, I found that they were few and far between, or wouldn't accept my insurance. Though the title proclaims to be a guide fo ...more
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“Changing the memories that form the way we see ourselves also changes the way we view others. Therefore, our relationships, job performance, what we are willing to do or are able to resist, all move in a positive direction.” 3 likes
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