Skip to main content

Founder’s Month Recap: Celebrating Dr. Francine Shapiro

We recently wrapped up our Founder’s Month campaign dedicated to honoring the remarkable life and contributions of our founder, Dr. Francine Shapiro. Throughout the month of June, we came together as a community to remember her legacy and the impact she made on our organization and the world.

Here’s a recap of the highlights and activities from our Founder’s Month campaign.

Community Board: Memories and Teachings from Francine

During June, we invited you to share memories, stories and teachings from Francine that inspired you. We received touching testimonials and expressions of gratitude from individuals whose paths were positively impacted by her contributions. We’d like to share some of those for anyone who didn’t get a chance to read them.

Rosalie Thomas, PhD

I was impressed by Francine from the first moment I met her in my EMDR training. Her knowledge, her teaching skills, and her ability to inspire others were all powerfully evident. Several years later, after becoming involved with the Institute and then with EMDRIA, the two of us stepped into an elevator together. I fumbled with words to convey my admiration about how she had taken a chance observation and developed it into the most exciting treatment option in psychology, including her support of research to understand and validate EMDR. She looked me in the eye and with incredible warmth said, “You would have done the same if the gift had been given to you.” Well, I doubt that I could have, or even would have. But those few words from her encapsulate the challenge that she passed on to each of us. She challenged us to observe, to look for opportunities for healing, to research our ideas, and to teach what we know. She challenged us to support others and to work together in community, and to hold on to our values of bringing healing to those I need. In that way, she gave that gift to each of us. I’ll be forever grateful for that encounter and for the change EMDR, now EMDR therapy, has made in my life and in the lives of many around the world.

Marsha Kaplan Ciccone, LCSW

In 1991, I saw Francine on 60 Minutes. Enthralled!! I took 1 and 2 that fall, and I’ve never looked back. Not only was the training amazing, speaking with Francine, who actually grew up in the same neighborhood that I did, sealed the deal…EMDR, thanks to the late and most certainly kind and great Francine Shapiro, changed my life, and therefore thousands of others.

Debbie Korn, Psy.D.

I’d like to share a story about Francine that is near and dear to my heart. It’s a story about family and friendship and EMDR. AND, it’s about an event and a conversation that inspired me to think more expansively about how and when to use RDI—Resource Development and Installation—with my clients. Francine got to know my son, Adam, when he was very young. Adam is now 19 years old and a sophomore at Northeastern University.

When Adam was about 6 years old, we visited a playground with Francine. It was one of those playgrounds with a very complex climbing structure. A tiny little girl got stuck very high up in the climbing structure with no parent(s) anywhere in sight. She was crying and calling out for her Mommy and appeared frozen and unable to move forward or backward. Adam yelled out, “Don’t move. I’ll help you!” and quickly made his way to her. He took her hand and helped her navigate through the netting and the tunnels, stopping along the way to reassure her and to make sure that she was okay. Once they were back down on the ground, we overheard him say to her, “It’s okay. I’m right here. You’re safe now. I’ll take care of you until we find your Mommy.” After hugging Adam and acknowledging his chivalrous behavior, Francine and I looked at one another and just started bawling.

Francine commented on the words that Adam had used with the little girl, “You’re safe now.” She laughed, and said, “The kid has the perfect positive cognition!” She then remembered two other incidents involving Adam that I had previously shared with her. Yes, her brain did a spontaneous “floatback.” When Adam was three years old, he slipped and fell into the deep end of a swimming pool and started to sink. My husband immediately jumped in after him (in his clothes) and rescued him, handing Adam out to me as I anxiously waited at the edge of the pool. Once I had him in my arms, I kept saying to him, “It’s over. You’re safe now,” while tapping on his shoulders. About six months after that pool incident, I was lifting Adam out of the bathtub and he looked me straight in the eye, wrapped his arms around my neck and said, “I’m safe now and I love you, Mommy.”

As we sat down for lunch later that day, Francine and I talked about RDI. She had always been very supportive of using RDI in the early stage of therapy with complex trauma survivors. She thought about RDI as a state change strategy, a way of accessing resources in the moment to help with self-regulation. She saw it as a valuable tool for self-soothing but did not view it as a strategy for trait or personality change. She believed that reprocessing was necessary for transformative, long-lasting changes.

Francine told me months later that, as a result of that memorable experience with Adam and the conversation that followed, she had started to think differently about RDI. She somehow had started to open to the possibility that a strong, reparative therapeutic relationship combined with RDI (i.e., Bring up a picture of a time when you felt seen and validated in this relationship.) could potentially lead to a transformation of identity and attachment status. As we offer our clients all kinds of healing experiences, we also need to be sure that those experiences—with their associated cognitions, emotions, and sensations—get adequately processed and integrated. With RDI, we focus on the integration of new, positive memories and as a result, clients begin to experience themselves and the world differently.

Though I had been teaching and writing about RDI for almost a decade at that point in time, that conversation with Francine gave me the confidence to share more about how I was using the therapeutic relationship in combination with RDI to increase clients’ capacity for secure attachment and positive self-esteem. With relationally-focused RDI, clients were able to see themselves through my eyes—with compassion and acceptance.

Support for the Scholarship Fund

The newly launched Scholarship Fund was the focus for this year’s Founder’s Month fundraising campaign. Thanks to your generosity, we have raised over $10,000 towards our $20,000 goal to fund one year of the Scholarship program. Each contribution has made a significant impact on the lives of deserving students who will now have the opportunity to become EMDR trained clinicians.

Donations to the Scholarship Fund go far beyond a monetary value; they represent the hope, ambition, and potential of countless individuals who aspire to make a positive difference in the world through EMDR therapy. Your belief in the power of education and your willingness to invest in the future of EMDR therapy are truly inspiring and help carry on Dr. Shapiro’s legacy.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Scholarship Fund, click here.

Congratulations to the June 2023 Scholarship Fund recipients:

Chloe Bachman
Lauren Brenny
Matthew Cole
Raelee Dubyk
Zachary Galasi
Emmalynn Goddard
Jasmine Jackson
Sarah Katz
Phillipia Pottinger
Shambhavi Naga Prathap

Click here to learn more about the Scholarship Fund and this round of recipients.

Founder’s Month was a heartfelt tribute to Dr. Shapiro, who envisioned and drove our organization with dedication and determination. Her pioneering work in the treatment of trauma and the development of EMDR therapy has not only transformed countless lives but has also inspired a global movement of healing and hope.

We’re very grateful for this community and your commitment to growing together and supporting each other as we continue the work that Francine set out to do when she founded Trauma Recovery, EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs nearly 30 years ago.