A Community of Heart Profile: Jinsong Zhang



Although Jinsong Zhang is a soft-spoken woman, she has had a strong impact on psychiatry in China. She was born in 1966 at the beginning of the chaotic years in China, also known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. She is a native of Beijing where her parents, Yuchun Zhang and Shiping Yang met through a matchmaker while they both worked at the University of Science and Technology. This was one of the new universities that had been started after the Liberation of China in 1949. Yuchun was in the Department of Organization and also was a manager of a company affiliated with the university, while Shiping was a teacher in a primary school, also connected to the university. Jinsong has two elder brothers who still live in Beijing; one is a Senior Engineer and Department Manager while the other is a professor.

Her mother and father were the models of the working class in China. When Jinsong was a child, it was her grandmother who took care of her. Her parents supported her by encouraging her to become a doctor. At the time, this was a very good choice for a girl in China. She went to the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China as a boarder because it was one of the best high schools in China at that time. It was difficult for any young woman to matriculate at university, and becoming a medical doctor was one of the only options for women. She noted that she had not really wanted to be a doctor but her parents were encouraging her, the medical college was across the road from her home, and so, she went.

While in school, she was fascinated by the psychological articles she found in the library. She completed her six years of medical school in 1990 and then was a resident at the Institute of Mental Health of Beijing Medical University, now called the Peking University Sixth Hospital. She liked this setting as there were only a few students and she grew close to them. Also, the hospital was near to her family. She still remains friendly with many of these colleagues from her early training.

In 1992, she was a clinical psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health at Peking University. However, her interest in psychology was still important to her so Jinsong decided to continue her studies and enrolled for a Masters degree program in Psychiatry at this same institute. In 1995, she graduated with her degree and an interest in child temperament.

By 1996, Jinsong and her husband decided to move to Shanghai. She began her work at the Xinhua Hospital in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine where she continues to work and practice 22 years later. She taught psychiatry to graduate students at the Shanghai Mental Health Center, the biggest Mental Health Center in Shanghai. Time passed and Jinsong continued to work at her hospital and teach.

In 2000, Jinsong became a Visiting Scholar at the School of Public Health University at the University of Michigan and attended courses in the Department of Psychology there. During the last half of the year, she was a Visiting Scholar at Hong Kong University. She returned to China and by 2002, her interest in psychology had continued to grow and she became a doctoral candidate in Psychology in the Department of Psychology at East China Normal University. In July 2006, she graduated with her Ph.D. in Psychology. Wanting to understand further the nature of how the mind works, Jinsong came to the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Philadelphia and the University of PA in 2007. She had one week of training on CBT and a week visiting in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of PA.

Her interest was in the field of human development and behavior and mental health problems, such as child temperament, self-regulation, ADHD, ODD/CD and early intervention after crisis in trauma with children. She is one of the Editors of the ADHD guidelines of China (2nd edition). Another one of her projects focused on child crisis and early intervention in kindergarten and schools; the Shanghai Bureau of Health supported her work. As first author, she has published over sixty research papers in Chinese on temperament, ADHD, selfregulation and related research and four teaching texts as Editor-in- Chief.

The first time Jinsong learned about EMDR therapy was from her teacher Dr. Qiuyun LV who was her colleague at Peking University Institute of Mental Health. Quiyun was famous for being the first psychiatrist to work with trauma in China. Quiyun had learned EMDR in 2003 and was the founder of EMDR-China. Jinsong’s next exposure to EMDR therapy was when she met Bob Tinker and Sandra Wilson when she attended the 3rd International conference of Psychotraumatology and Mediation at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. It was at this time that her interest in EMDR therapy was ignited.

Soon after Jinsong returned to Shanghai, a major event took place in China. On May MARILYN LUBER, PH.D. EMDRIA Newsletter 11 12, 2008, the First Great Sichuan/Wenchuan earthquake occurred and devastated the central region of Sichuan province in the southwestern part of China. At that time, many died and children lost their parents. Jinsong invited Sandra and Bob to teach her and her colleagues how to help these survivors using EMDR therapy. They stayed in the region for 2 months and used the EMDR Integrative Group Treatment Protocol (IGTP) for individuals and small groups. Along with Weiping Xia, Xin Wang and Qin Li, they reported on their work, “The Effect of EMDR Treatment for Children with PTSD/ PTSS after the Sichuan Earthquake,” at the First EMDR Asian Conference in Bali.

She was attracted to EMDR therapy because it focused on traumatic events. She found that it was not very easy to resolve trauma in her clinic. She particularly liked that EMDR had research to support it and looked at the brain to understand the mechanism that made it so successful. She, too, was interested in exploring brain mechanisms active in processing traumatic information. She also added that it has become a favored way to work with patients because she loses her voice if she talks too much and EMDR therapy supports the therapist only having “a light touch” and not talking so much!

Qiuyun later encouraged her to seek further EMDR training and she attended an EMDR Basic Training in 2010 given by Judith Boel through EMDR HAP and organized by the Western Chinese University. They did a second EMDR Basic Training provided by Helga Matthess and Joany Spierings in Beijing. She was hooked, and when Derek Farrell came in August 2011 and June 2012, she took the consultant’s training in Beijing. After becoming a supervisor, she attended trainings provided by EMDR Europe in Thailand in 2011 and 2012. She brought Dagmar Eckers to Shanghai and Kunming to train our Chinese colleagues to work with children and EMDR therapy. She often worked as a facilitator with the Chinese trainer, Yuchuan Yang, and Helga Matthess. She became an Accredited Practitioner of EMDR China in 2011 and an Accredited Consultant of EMDR Europe in 2013. She was happy to begin the trainer’s training in 2014 supported by an international team: Helga Matthess (Germany), Derek Farrell (UK), Gary Quinn (Israel) and Rosalie Thomas (US). She is still in the process of becoming an EMDR trainer.

Jinsong has not done research on EMDR to date but is planning to do so, especially with children diagnosed with ADHD. She realized that children in her clinic with this diagnosis almost always have many traumatic events in their history. She observed that, as children age with this diagnosis, even though they may have a good job, they have a great deal of trauma as well. Growing up with ADHD seems to set them up for much disapproval and punishment of their behavior. She has also noted in children who are diagnosed with ODD this phenomenon of traumatization is pervasive. These young people are criticized and punished as well and have difficulties with emotional regulation.

Learning about emotion has been such an important topic that Jinsong has written a book for children to teach them to know their emotions. She has included the form of bilateral stimulation known as the Butterfly Hug to support their working on learning to image a calm and peaceful hug. She finds that no matter the diagnosis, EMDR is helpful whenever a patient has traumatic or adverse memories. She often combines her stabilization work with mindfulness meditation while doing group work.

Jinsong’s work clearly has the central place in her life, however, she also enjoys swimming and traveling. She and her husband have a 20-year old son who is in the United States in his third year of college. They sent him to study in the US because they wanted him to be independent. Jinsong would like to say this to the EMDR therapy community:

EMDR therapy has given me an efficient way to see and work with patients with psychological trauma. EMDR also supports our working together. It is becoming one of the key parts in my life. I will do my best to support EMDR therapy in its clinical applications, teaching and research based in China and beyond. I would like to cooperate with my international colleagues in the EMDR therapy community for trauma recovery and wellbeing of human beings everywhere.

Jinsong Zhang is a powerful force in her Chinese community and we look forward to her growing role as an influential EMDR therapy practitioner, researcher and trainer.


“A Community of Heart Profile: Jinsong Zhang,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 15, 2024, https://francineshapirolibrary.omeka.net/items/show/25393.

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