A Community of Heart Profile: David Hart



David Hart won the EMDRIA Distinguished Service Award at the September 2000 conference. Who is this man and what is the story about his life of service?

David Hart was born in Lichfield, England in 1935. His early years were spent in travel. His father was stationed in Bermuda as an Army Quartermaster Sergeant for the British Army. When he planned to retire, he decided to go to Nova Scotia for Theological Training. David and his mother joined him there and from that time on, Canada was home. David grew up in the area of Nova Scotia, often in remote areas. In these out-of-the-way areas, David had to adjust to being the new boy quite often. It was here that his interest in connecting with others -that was to be an important part of the fabric of his life- was born.

Although David was interested in Math and Physics while at school, when visiting with his uncle outside London, he happened upon the work of Rhine. His methods intrigued David and he thought what better way to spend a life than doing Psychology experiments. With the first few statistics classes he saw that Rhine's impressive results were based on careful selection of data and were simply a neat way of lying with. Nevertheless, he was inspired by one of his professors to delve further into Psychology at Dalhousie University, Halifax where he received his MA in Clinical Psychology. For his Master's thesis, he wrote "Psychological changes in pregnant habitual aborters during psychotherapy" while a Research Assistant at the Medical School with his mentor.

He went on to take his doctorate at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario - one of the leading universities of Canada. During the 2nd year of his program, he was inspired again by 2 directors who had studied under Eysenck at The Maudsley in London. They came to Queen's to set up a clinical program and David joined in. He was lucky later to work with some open-minded, young psychiatrists at Waterford Hospital in St. John's who allowed him to try out some of the new therapy practices of Mowrer, Wolpe and Eysenck. He recalled this time in his life as being intensely exciting, especially with the ferment of all of these new ideas. Despite working at Waterford and being an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, he found time for a wife and baby. He was the only Psychologist in the Psychology Department for his first two years and found it to be a grueling but fascinating time in his career.

After working at Waterford from 1962-1976, he became a Consultant Psychologist for St. Clare's Mercy Hospital, also in St. John's. St. Clare's was a General Hospital and he had a chance to work in the Psychiatric ward which offered many stimulating challenges.

David's main love was academia and he went from Assistant to Associate to Professor, served time as Department Head, and for 20-odd years was Director of the Master of Sciences Clinical Program at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. He started at his University in 1962 and retired in May 1996. There, he was an active part of his academic community serving on many University and Department committees, working with students as professor and directing their M.Sc., Honors and Ph.D. theses.

Early in his career, one of his students was interested in Eating Disorders, especially weight management. They began a project at the Children's Hospital. When, after several years running the program, they found that after teenagers returned to their families, they returned to their same eating habits; they learned from it and changed the direction of their research to teenage self-esteem. He ran a successful pilot program where they used instruction in communication as a way to improve self-esteem. The teachers and kids enjoyed this several hour program and it resulted in a change in the participants' self esteem.

David became interested in trauma as a natural response to his study of anxiety problems over the years. He feels that "the understanding of trauma is crucial to the understanding of anxiety." He started reading about traumatic stress and disasters and how to respond. He felt it mandatory for a Psychologist and someone teaching and directing the program at Memorial to know about this important field. When several EAP firms were looking for people to respond to victims of bank robberies (even though this was not a problem in Newfoundland) -always curious- David's interest was engaged and he thought this would be a great way to put his reading into practice. In 1987, he took Terry Keane's workshop on "Trauma: A behavioral approach to assessment and treatment." He then was trained to do response training for disasters with Jeffrey Mitchell and Jim Butcher. When the big disaster occurred at Gander Airport in Newfoundland -a significant refueling airport for transatlantic flights- David was asked to work with the Emergency Responders of the Provincial Department of Health for Psychologists who volunteered, the Firefighters and the Police.

In 1989, in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, David read about Francine Shapiro's treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization. Intrigued -although thinking it was too good to be true- David went to AABT and heard her with his colleague, Helen Doan, now an EMDR sponsor and facilitator in Toronto. In 1992, he was trained in Chicago and then went on to San Jose for his Part 2 training. David's training was toward the end of his academic career, however, this did not keep him from channeling his enthusiasm into an activity at which he excels: organizing.

David said that he became interested in organizing other professionals as a way to keep connected. Living in Newfoundland, he found that he was far away from the centers where his colleagues congregated. So, he became an expert in bringing his colleagues together to explore their mutual interests. He was a founding member of the Association of Newfoundland Psychologists. He was a Co-founder of the Canadian Trauma Response Network and Founding Member of the Steering Committee.

Also, he is/was a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association (1977-Present); Member of the American Psychological Association (1967-2000); Member of the American Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (1973-Present); Member of the Atlantic Provinces Psychological Association (1958-1973), Member of the MUN Faculty Association (1962-1996); and Member of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (1967-1975) and of the Canadian Yachting Association. Not only was David a member of these organizations, he was on the executive committees of all of them, serving as everything from Board Director, Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President, Editor, President, to Website Editor, etc.

When David's interest turned to EMDR, we are lucky that he brought his organizational skills along with him. David was the founder and Chair from 1995-2001 of the EMDR Association of Canada. It is because of his inspiration that this organization was born. He got the names of the original group of therapists who completed their full training by 1995 and started with 28 members. His original Board was comprised of Maria Erickson, Bill De Bosch Kemper, Maurice Boulet and Jim Lichti. He is proud of the work that this originating group did in 1995 and is even prouder that they have figured out how to do e-mail voting and nominations. When their organization was incorporated, the expansion began and now there are more than 300 members of EMDRAC. And, of course, there is a website (www.emdrac.ca).

David has been part of the EMDR International Association. He has served on the International Committee from 1996-1999, the Nominations Committee in 1998 and the World Wide Link Committee from 1998-1999. He has been a member of the World Council since the millenium.

When asked what he would like to impart to the EMDR community, David said the following:

"I would like to see an International Council formed such as we discussed at the EMDRIA meeting at Toronto. I humbly suggest that it failed because it was run by EMDRIA and EMDRIA has so many significant matters to deal with that the International role does not get sufficient attention devoted to it. If the chair for the International Council were someone outside of the Board, it would have a better chance to function. There is an occasion to do this. At the next EMDRIA meeting, if formation of an International Council is proposed with the notion of finding ways in which international communication can be facilitated and international projects discussed, then there would be a focus for stimulating international collaboration."

David, in his retirement, sounds as busy as he ever was. He continues to devote time to working on EMDRAC, different committees and the Canadian Traumatic Stress Network (CTSN). He edits the CTSN Newsletter and currently is the Chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee. Much time is spent on e-mail and managing several websites for various organizations. Living on the west coast of Canada enables David to engage in his love of sailing. His sailboat resides at his home in Salt Spring Island where he and his partner, Linda, go as often as possible. David is a sailing judge and recently had the fun of going to judge international regattas in Hawaii and Australia.

His family is as accomplished as David. Linda is a much sought after Reading Disabilities researcher and travels a great deal to speak at International conferences. His son, Peter, has returned to teach Irish History at David's Memorial University of Newfoundland. His daughter is close to him in British Columbia and works in the Provincial Archives, while his youngest son, Stephen does Computer Science work at Kingston, Ontario.

It is because of the "Davids" in this world that so much is accomplished and flourishes. David is an integral part of our EMDR community. He is a friend, colleague, academician, proud father and organizer par excellence. Thank you, David, for dedicating so much of your time and effort to our community.


“A Community of Heart Profile: David Hart,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 15, 2024, https://francineshapirolibrary.omeka.net/items/show/7660.

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