In Celebration: John Marquis



A beloved member of our EMDR community left us on March 16, 2016 after living 87 vibrant years bringing his wonderful spirit to the world. This is a tribute to John Marquis and a celebration of his life based on an earlier article I wrote in 2001, an interview with his daughter, Priscilla, and some memories from our colleagues.

Since John Marquis recently told me that he rides his bicycle almost 60 miles a week going home and to work, I have been having this wonderful vision of him riding across the skies of California… sort of like E.T.! This may be a loose association, but truthfully, I have always thought that there is a touch of the magical about John. I think it is that strange mixture of dependability and sturdiness with that great twinkle in his eye and imperturbable spirit that has endeared him to me. John truly marches to the beat of his own drummer.

When I think back to my early days as part of the EMDR community, I always think of John Marquis because he is one of the old-timers of EMDR. As a deeply concerned psychologist and academi­cian, he always provided an aura of respectability to this new, strange and wonderful method we call EMDR.

John was first introduced to psychology as a freshman at Maryville College in Tennessee through three texts: William James’ Principles of Psychology, Sigmund Freud’s General Introduction to Psychoanalysis and Watson’s Behaviorism. By the end of the semester, he was hooked and decided to declare his major in psychology. He transferred to the University of Illinois to broaden his horizons and graduated with a B.S. in Psychology in the class of 1950.

At that point, the Army drafted John and he was off to Fort Sam Houston. There he was a Clinical Psychology Technician and continued his interest in human behavior by administering psychological tests. At the end of his military service, John attended Ohio University and received an M.S. in Psychology. With his interest in clinical work growing, he worked at a State Hospital in Logansport, Indiana for one year to gain more experience. Convinced that clinical psychology was his future, John enrolled at the University of Michigan where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on “Fantasy Measures of Aggressive Behavior”. He was thoroughly trained in psychoanalytic theory as well as other areas of psychology. He worked summers at the University of Michigan Fresh Air Camp for disturbed children and spent his winters as a teaching fellow in Introductory Psychology. He was awarded his doctorate in Personality Theory in 1960.

During his doctoral work, John began his sojourn at the Veteran’s Administration Hospitals as an intern in Ann Arbor and Dearborn. He continued this interesting work after graduation when he moved to Palo Alto, California and worked in the VA hospital there until his retire­ment in 1984. He thought that Palo Alto was the best placement in the VA system because it gave psychologists a great deal of responsi­bility. During his time at the VA, John served as a Ward Psychologist and Program Director for eight years, and Principal Psychologist for the Mental Hygiene Clinic for eight years. He also served on the Social Learning Unit, an Out-placement Unit, a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit and a Co-ed Psychiatric Ward.

While he was there, John had the opportunity to work along with some of the luminaries in psychology such as Lenny Krasner, Al Bandura, Arnold Lazarus and Jack Atthowe. John retired from the VA in 1984 at age 55 after 30 years of service including his time in the Army.

John was a behaviorist when he moved to California and became one of the first ones in the state and was involved with the American Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT). After the VA, he became interested in Psychologists for Social Responsi­bility and served as the chair of the chapter in Northern California. He was on the steering committee that resulted in the beginning of the APA Division of Peace Psychology. During this period of time, John was intrigued by other possibilities and worked as a Staff Psychologist at the Behavior Therapy Institute in Sausalito under Arnold Lazarus from 1966-68. From 1971-76, He was part of the Behavior Change Corporation Alcohol Treatment Program in Los Altos in the capacity of Chairman of the Board of Directors. He joined Stanford University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences first as a Clinical Instructor and then as an Assistant Professor from 1975-1984. Also, he worked at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at the Psychiatry and Behavioral Science Department of the Stanford University School of Medicine from 1977-82. He became an Emeritus Professor at Stanford in 1984.

John took his skills into the community and soon after he came to Palo Alto, he joined the Mid-Peninsula ACLU. As a member, he worked on the Committee on Civil Liberties of Mental Patients and contacted those who were working on the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act that ended indefinite commitments for mental patients. Through their intervention, they got their recommendations incorporated into the law, including the first Bill of Rights for mental patients, which John’s committee drafted.

From 1970 – 1971, John was on the Board of the Ecology Center Foundation located in Berkeley. Through the work of this group, the first Ecology Center was formed and served as a model for other centers. People came from all over to learn about the center and then returned home to create their own centers. Also, in the seventies, John was an active member of the California State Psychological As­sociation (CSPA). He was the Insurance Chair and also led the task force on Masters-Level Psychologists. In 1976, John assumed the position of President for the Santa Clara County Psychological Association.

In the late 80’s, John was a part-time Professor at Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Palo Alto where he served as Director of Clinical Training from 1991-1992. John was in private practice since 1964 – 2010. His areas of specialization were the following: “phobias, anxiety, stress, and panic disorder: relaxation training and application; breathing training for hyperventilators; systematic de­sensitization: flooding and implosive therapy; cognitive behavior therapy; social skills training; couples and family therapy; adolescent problems; sex therapy; sexual offenses, and sexual object choice; alcohol problems – controlled drinking, abstinence, and relapse pre­vention training; health problems and self-management skills; eye movement desensitization and reprocessing; evaluations and expert testimony; and dissociative disorders.

Throughout his career, John always felt that “The thing that was important to me was looking for new effective therapies. The goal was to get psychotherapy out of the witch doctor stage.” With that in mind, John was always interested in new, better and more efficient kinds of psychotherapies such as Tom Stampfl’s Exposure Therapy; orgasmic reconditioning for sex offenders (which resulted in the cessation of Aversive Therapy) and the moderate drinking training. And, of course, EMDR……

John became aware of EMDR when he noticed that a woman by the name of Francine Shapiro was giving a presentation at a 1989 AABT convention at the same time as he was. Curious, he jumped at the opportunity to hear Dr. Shapiro speak at the Gioretto Institute for sex offenders’ lecture series just before the 1989 earthquake and spoke to her afterwards about this new trauma treatment. He went home and tried it immediately and was very impressed with its clinical effectiveness. During that time, he sought consultation with Dr. Shapiro and tried EMD (the early name of EMDR) with a wide variety of clinical problems. In March 1990, he attended the first public training in the United States and then took the second level training in the fall.

Smitten with EMDR’s efficacy with his patients, in 1991, at the invitation of Joseph Wolpe, John published the results of 78 cases of EMDR in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. During the following spring, John sponsored the first academic training at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. This experience included the first translation of the training into Spanish for a psychology professor from El Salvador by his daughter, Priscilla Marquis. Later John arranged for other colleagues from El Salvador to take subsequent trainings at the EMDR Institute.

John’s social activism grew, and he began to volunteer his time, energy and money to be part of the active humanitarian team of EMDR practitioners. As the interest in Central America evolved, in the summer of 1991, John and Priscilla (as translator and facilitator) gave the first HAP-type training at the Baptist Hospital in Managua, Nicaragua with Dr. Shapiro’s blessing. This was at his own expense. He also volunteered a week of his time to help survivors of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Later, in August 1995, he spent a week in Oklahoma City after the Oklahoma City bombing as part of the facilitating team and on-site volunteers who worked with the emergency workers and surviving members of people killed in the blast. In December 1998, John spent two weeks in Bangladesh with the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program helping to complete their contract with UNESCO to train and consult. Life came full circle as during this trip, he worked for Priscilla who is now a trainer for HAP.

John joined the Humanitarian Assistance Program’s Board at its inception in 1996 and served a four-year term.

To the EMDR community, John wants to communicate the following:

I think that it is wonderful all of the good therapeutic methods that have been originated and developed and disseminated through EMDR. So many people have been impressed with the quality of the training and in the general therapeutic skills that serve as a matrix for EMDR. I think that this is just an exciting time as it becomes agreed upon that EMDR is effective in treating PTSD and that the research can move on to how EMDR works and how to improve it and treating other problems. These are exciting times!

Priscilla added that John stayed in private practice until 2010 when he turned 80 and retired completely. For EMDR, he continued to be involved in HAP trainings locally and in other parts of the country. One training in which he was involved was for The Baby Fold; it was particularly poignant because it took place in Bloomington, IL, his hometown, and gave him a chance to give back. She noted that she was proud that John helped with a Protocol for Perpetrators. He had done an article on orgasmic reconditioning teaching perpetrators to become orgasmic to an appropriate person. He took his early article and using EMDR had perpetrators work on earlier memories where they thought that they “deserved it” because they were perpetrated upon to help them move on. She felt that he would dive in and help whoever needed help. Priscilla shared these thoughts about her father:

There were many things about my dad that were so amazing. In the early days of EMDR, I would go to my clinical supervisors, and say that, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ They didn’t know what to do either. I would go to dad and he would say, “It is dissociation do this and this.” He really had an incredible wealth of clinical knowledge from all of the years of his work that he brought to EMDR.

I think that he was incredibly brave to dive right in and use EMDR with a wide variety of clinical problems without missing a beat. He jumped in and did it. He trusted EMDR would help people move forward and they did. It is particularly dramatic when you see new people trained and how they are so tentative; my dad just jumped in. He was an incredibly accomplished clinician.

He was dedicated to helping HAP. When I asked him, what do you want for your birthday, he said give a donation to HAP. The other thing about him was how relaxed he was. It was part of his character, one of the things that made him a wonderful EMDR facilitator and teacher. It was easy for him to help his people to continue and learn. He was a great role model in that way. He never became a trainer. He was happy to be a facilitator and on the HAP Board.

John’s personal life is as rich as his professional life. His wife Pat of 57 years is filled with the same vitality as John. She was the former proprietor of a Native American arts store and she is an avid cook who has collected 5000 cookbooks. She was the past president of the Stanford Women’s Club. They have 2 sons, Neil and Paul, and our Priscilla who is an active member of our community. John was a gourmet cook and amateur gardener who grew fresh herbs and citrus for their table. His son planted a vegetable garden in his honor. He loved to snorkel and up until 15 days before his death, he rode 4-7 miles a day on his recumbent seat bike.

John’s dedication to psychology, the EMDR family and the larger community of the world is apparent in who he was and all that he has done. How lucky we are to carry on John Marquis’ legacy.

Memories of John

“John was, truly, one of the sweetest, kindest, most generous human beings that I have ever known. He had such an impact on so many during his time on this earth. I had so much respect for him and really thought of him as one of our “wise elders”. His memory is, indeed, a blessing to us all.” ~Debbie Korn

“John was a warm and beautiful guiding light for those of us in the EMDR world and beyond. He was a wonderful teacher and humanitarian and made a big difference in the world. And one of those differences is to have a daughter (Priscilla) who is following his example.” ~Rosalie Thomas

“One of the “old guard” has passed. His efforts were so important in getting over some critical hump on the early EMDR years. I have happy memories of our talks, joking and laughing (he has such a sense of humor), and amazing energy. He passes on his legacy through Priscilla, another gift to EMDR (and the world).” ~Roger Solomon

“John was a true pioneer. Not just in EMDR but in Behavior Therapy. In 1992-1993, I used to attend his EMDR Case Consultation Group. A good guy! He will be missed.” ~Steven Marcus

“His was a bright light that shone bright and steady. He was clearly loved by many and I am one of those who felt touched by his presence.” ~Elaine Alvarez

“I will always remember John dearly. He was so kind to me during my facilitator training in Lansing MI. We would reminisce about our experiences at the University of Michigan, which clearly, was an important time in his life. I feel the loss, knowing that he is no longer on the planet.” ~Bennet Wolper

“John loomed large in the EMDR Community, and many of us are fortunate to have experienced his greatness – his kindness, his gener­osity, his passion, his wisdom, his presence. Part of his legacy is the enduring footprint he has left behind that helps to ensure the future of EMDR therapy in an uncertain world. In many ways, he is still with us. I am sorry for our loss.” ~Barb Hensley

“He was an EMDR Giant.” ~Edith Taber

“I first had contact with John on my internship at the Palo Alto VA in 1974. As good as the staff there was, he was the one supervisor everyone wanted. I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance study with him, so it was especially gratifying to meet and learn from him through our EMDR contact. It should not have been surprising that he would be one of the few respected people in our field who would quickly understand the value of Francine’s new and controversial work. I think this was more important to EMDR’s acceptance and getting help to hundreds of thousands of people than is widely known.” ~Howard Lipke

“John has blessed us with such wonderful memories of his kindness and generosity. I remember being disappointed when he retired in not having him around as much. I often think of John, Pat and Neil when we did the first European EMDR training in Aix-en-Provence and Amsterdam. I have such wonderful fond memories of that time. The memories of John are the most vibrant and graceful threads that make up the tapestry of our loving EMDR family.... how comforting it is for all of us.” ~Jocelyne Shiromoto

“The picture of John Marquis, a Stanford emeritus professor and highly respected psychologist, arriving on his 10-speed bicycle to facili­tate at EMDR trainings, made an everlasting impression on me. I first met Dr. Marquis in 1990 at a lecture Dr. Shapiro gave to a large audience at Stanford, then again, the next year at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, where he had invited her to give an EMDR training. He was one of the first luminaries in the field of psychology to embrace EMDR therapy, publishing journal articles, facilitating for EMDR Institute trainings and volunteering with EMDR HAP throughout the world.

I will always remember him as an exceptional man who was enthusiastic for not only EMDR therapy and psychology, but for life oppor­tunities in general. Many of our conversations included the sharing of favorite recipes, gardening tips, descriptions of his travel adven­tures, family excursions, and, of course, EMDR success stories. John’s devotion to his family was evident in most of our conversations. I was fortunate to meet his sweet wife, Pat, and his talented daughter, psychologist Priscilla Marquis, a well- known EMDR trainer, facili­tator and conference presenter. They enjoyed traveling together to bring EMDR therapy to underserved communities in Latin America.

The greeting cards John sent me several times each year to keep me up to date about his family and health were filled with John’s keen sense of humor and brought me much happiness and laughter. The EMDR community will miss one of its most extraordinary and bril­liant treasures.” ~Robbie Dunton



“In Celebration: John Marquis,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 27, 2021,

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