Online collection is on PTSD eye therapy

Northern Kentucky University recently unveiled the Francine Shapiro Library, an online collection of nearly 4,000 citations to writings about a form of psychotherapy called Eye-Movement-Desensitization-Reprocessing (EMDR).

EMDR treats post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the EMDR International Association Web site. Eye movement is thought to be involved in the brain’s memory processes. To treat the disorder, EMDR’s patients watch the rapid movement of a clinician’s finger while recalling a traumatic event.

Marilyn Schleyer, an NKU professor and EMDR-trained clinician, said, “EMDR eradicates the trauma stuck in memory and consolidates a more functional way of seeing the world in PTSD sufferers.”

Experts think PTSD occurs in about one out of every five Iraq war veterans, according to the National Center for PTSD, and about eight percent of the U.S. population will eventually show PTSD symptoms.

“The library is going to help a lot of people — practitioners with information on specific disorders, researchers, doctoral students and people getting certified in EMDR,” said Dr. Barbara Hensley, past president and current member of the EMDR International Association.

The library references 20 years of newsletters, books, journals, articles and anthologies in 13 languages.

Hensley, a friend of Schleyer’s, began collecting EMDR literature in the early 1990s. Schleyer brought Hensley and NKU together to create the library, by sending hundreds of pages of citations to Steely Documents Librarian Philip Yannarella. He spent more than a year methodically confirming or correcting every detail.

“The idea is not speed but accuracy,” Yannarella said. “All the information had to be checked against an original copy and then made into a form that could be put into a Web site and be searchable.”

Yannarella verified details like whether a comma or a dash fit in a citation translated from the Korean language. To find out, he either had to find the original article or find someone who reads Korean.

“It’s a game of not only putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but finding the pieces sometimes,” Yannarella said.

If you like to do puzzles and you buy a 3,000 piece puzzle, you take it one piece at a time and you don’t think of the hours,” he said to explain how he focused on details to verify the collection. “But I like puzzles.”

“It will be a site that’s continually growing. We keep up with new things coming out,” Yannarella said. “And there’s undoubtedly some we missed along the way.”

The Francine Shapiro Library is dedicated to Francine Shapiro. Visit the library at