A Community of Heart Profile: Jim Knipe



Who is this man, Jim Knipe, who lives in the mountains of Colorado?

Here is what his friends and colleagues say:

“I remember the first impression of him when I went up to the bus which took us to the lecture hall in Istanbul. I was the only one who didn’t know him from the Israeli delegation and as I passed by, quite inhibited in the beginning, he introduced himself offering me to sit beside him. Since then I was sorry to realize that the way from the hotel to the lecture hall is too near because the conversation was always exciting and too short. I don’t know him too well but he “gives a taste of more” (that’s a Hebrew idiom).” -Brurit Laub, Israel

“To me he has just been a very nice, warm-hearted handsome man. Around him is always an aura of authentic calmness and humour.” -Lene Jacobsen, Denmark

“Jim is great…all around a talented, sensitive, humanitarian and stable guy.” -Robbie Dunton

“Jim helped me with my recent presentation in Toronto. What I would say throughout all of this is that he has been supportive, generous, highly creative, a fun and highly informed individual to tour Turkey with, and an excellent clinician based on the videotapes of his works I have seen. Everyone has a shadow side. Perhaps Jim has made friends with that part of him because his generosity and friendship with me even in stressful situations is the part that keeps showing up. I have told him that he is like a brother to me and I deeply care for him.” Elizabeth Snyker, USA

I had seen Jim at various EMDR functions and we have talked briefly here and there but it was not until a fall afternoon at the EMDRIA 2000 Toronto Conference that I felt that I got to know him. What a rich, warm and enjoyable afternoon that turned out to be.

Jim makes an impressive appearance with his white hair and sparkling eyes. He is a soft-spoken man who has lived all of his life in the western United States. He loves the mountains, folk songs and his Gibson J50 guitar, and, living a life that is thoughtful and purposeful.

The core of who he is resonates with the teachings of Viktor Frankl. His belief is that it is his conscience that directs him to life’s meaning as a kind of moral sense organ. Conscience is like a sense organ in that it allows each of us to perceive where the meaning in life can be found. Service seems to be the organizing principle through which Jim experiences his world. In this way, he follows in the footsteps of his father who died in Okinawa 12 days after setting up a hospital subsequent to the WWII invasion. Jim believes that the times when we can make a difference are “rare and brief” and he thinks that it is important to take those opportunities when they arise. He believes in the continuity and connectedness in life and feels a genetic and spiritual connection with his ancestors, his family and extended family.

In keeping with this credo, Jim chose a life as a mental health care worker. He completed his B.A. in 1966 in Psychology from Lawrence University in Wisconsin. He went on to receive his M.A. in Developmental Psychology (1968) and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (1972), both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is guided by the wish to work with and assist in the healing process of those suffering the most. He told me that the accomplishment of which he is most proud is the 24-hour Crisis and Day Treatment Center that he implemented for people who are Chronically Mentally Ill. After 23 years, it is still going strong and he is a Consultant to the program.

He is fascinated by the difficulties that clients with DID or Axis 2 diagnoses bring to his office and how they learned to protect themselves from the trauma that befell them. He wrote a chapter in Philip Manfield’s text, Extending EMDR, that he called “It was a golden time: Healing narcissistic vulnerability” and he continues to actively think about these problems on his own and in conjunction with his colleagues. Recently he has written a chapter for a book edited by Carol Forgash on the use of EMDR with Ego State Disorders and on EMDR and the treatment of Dissociative Disorders for an issue of the EMDRIA Newsletter.

And, he loves to teach. In January 2001, as an adjunct faculty member at the Colorado School of Professional Psychology in Colorado Springs, he began teaching a new curriculum. The theme of the course was the effects and treatment of psychological trauma with the use of EMDR as the major treatment component. It is an equivalent of an EMDR Institute Level 1 course. The Level 2 equivalent course began in January 2002. The Level 1 included the added benefit of giving students a thorough grasp of psychological trauma. This is a new course and is part of the developing “Trauma Specialization” curriculum at the school. He is teaching in conjunction with another EMDR trainer, good friend and colleague, John Hartung. The Level 2 equivalent course began in January 2002.

How did he get so interested in Turkey? That’s easy! It started back in the sixties when he and his wife got to know an exchange student who came from Turkey. Over the past 30 years, their Turkish friends came to visit the United States several times. His first trip to Turkey occurred in 1992. In 1996, he went back to visit his friends and thought it would be interesting to connect with mental health professionals while he was there. When he was in Istanbul, he went to visit a Domestic Violence Clinic and met colleagues there where he told them about EMDR. At that time, he met Emre Konuk, a quiet, yet dynamic man, who, for many years, has been President of the Turkish Psychological Association, Istanbul Branch. It is Emre who did all the groundwork to sponsor the first Turkish EMDR training.

On August 17, 1999, terrible earthquakes occurred in Turkey. Within less than a minute, 10,000 people died. By the end of this natural disaster, 15-20,000 additional people had died. Emre immediately e- mailed Jim and within a short period of time, with the assistance of Francine Shapiro and EMDR-HAP, an emergency EMDR training was planned.

The question was “What will it take for these therapists to be overnight experts in EMDR?” With Udi Oren, Gary Quinn and Elan Shapiro and the whole Israeli team, they established the prototype for a new way of training participants in disaster areas that maintained the integrity of the original seminars. At first, Jim and Philip Manfield worked with survivors who had been in the earthquake zones and taped these EMDR sessions. They then had excellent videos to show the method to the Turkish therapists. The training included an emphasis on how to fashion a safe place and three additional clinical practices for the training. Then, the facilitators followed the newly trained therapists to the tent cities and supervised their work. They also made sure that the participants had healed their own trauma from the earthquake.

Jim began to choke up when he recounted a moment that he often thinks about. During the post- training supervision of trainees in the tent city clinics there was one therapist who was very apprehensive about using EMDR with a very traumatized little girl. After their very successful session, both the girl and the therapist emerged with faces showing confidence and relief. It is the picture of these two faces of confidence and relief that still lives in Jim’s mind and is symbolic of his work and the healing that has occurred through the use of EMDR in Turkey.

Emre –picking up on the importance of support and peer supervision- met with the newly trained therapists 3 hours a week. He made videos of the facilitators working and used them as important elements of his supervision. By June, each of the therapists who had learned EMDR was using it and had worked with an average of 50 clients each. He noted that 8000 EMDR sessions took place in that first 11 months in Turkey; that is a lot of healing! There have been three introductory trainings (159 Turkish therapists) and one advanced training (66 Turkish therapists). The clinics run by the Turkish Psychological Association, Istanbul Branch, are still in operation in the earthquake zones. In January 2001, there was a second advanced EMDR, HAP-sponsored training which was very well attended. Plans to have an additional beginning training sponsored by HAP in September 2001 were put aside following a severe economic downturn in Turkey during the past year. (Jim noted that the Turkish currency lost 55% of its value overnight, which added to the traumatization of the Turkish people). In spite of this setback, there continues to be an active EMDR therapist community in Turkey, involved in both practice and research. EMDR Turkey is now a member of EMDR Europe, with a flag on The EMDR Practitioner electronic magazine website. (http://www.emdr-practitioner.net)

In December 2000, Jim was part of the initial assessment team that went to Indonesia. This team was under the direction of Michael Keller from the United States and included Elaine Alvarez of the United States and Reyhana Sedat-Ravat of South Africa. In August/September 2001, Jim coordinated the HAP introductory trainings in Gaza and Ramallah. Jim reports that Roy Kiessling did “an outstanding job as the trainer” and Judith Daniel, Joany Spierings and Peggy Moore did an excellent job under very stressful circumstances. Jim noted the following about the training: “While we were there, we repeatedly witnessed the violence and anger that is part of the suffering in this part of the world. It was very discouraging to see the tragic and intractable nature of this conflict. In spite of this, though, we deeply appreciated the commitment of the Palestinian therapists to learn as much as they could about trauma therapy in general and EMDR in particular. We tried in these trainings to focus on the use of EMDR with grief issues and with children. Active e-mail contact between these therapists and the HAP team has continued, and we hope to resume this program as soon as conditions of peace and safety return to the area.”

Jim states to the EMDR community:

“I feel strongly about EMDR. I feel strongly about the work we do as therapists. It is a sacred responsibility. There are many ways for us to do something. There is a lot at stake and sometimes more than you realize. It is important to be mindful of the importance of what we are doing and the energy that comes from it. What I felt was a mutual energizing process.”

With this in mind, Jim is the Regional Coordinator for the Pikes Peak region for the EMDR International Association. Prior to that, he was one of the coordinators for informal monthly meetings that occurred between 1992 and 1995 on EMDR. He has served in his professional organizations as Board Member, Chairman, and President. In 2000, he was asked to become a Board Member for EMDR-HAP. He has participated in many of the EMDR outcome studies of Sandra Wilson, Lee Becker and Robert Tinker.

Jim’s life partner and wife, Nancy, brought her own expertise to the women in the tent cities through their good friend Atilla Ozsuz. Atilla was the Director of one of the tent cities. Working through the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work, she was helpful in assisting Turkish women to sell their textile products. After coming back several times, Nancy and her Turkish colleagues became friends. They have been selling the textiles in the United States and will continue to do so.

Because of the intensity of the Turkish project and his work with HAP as a Board Member, most of Jim’s other interests have been placed on the back burner. However, when he is home on the weekends, he and Nancy continue their tradition of going to their home in the mountains where they read, walk, socialize and let their lives settle. Here is a place where they retire from the hustle and bustle of the working world and relax with each other and their dogs: Sally and Ben and their 18-year-old cat, Nemo. Ben is short for “Ben Buyuk”, which is Turkish for “I am big.” (His name is also his positive cognition!). Their two children, Anne and Paul, have moved off into the world on their own adventures. Anne is a librarian in Grand Junction, Colorado and Paul was married last month to Archana Singh, and they live in San Francisco.

Let us end as we began with reflections of Jim’s friends and colleagues: Jim Knipe has been an advocate of EMDR since October 1992, when he, John Hartung and I all took the first Level 1 training in Denver. I remember on the ride back to Colorado Springs, his disbelief and amazement at the effectiveness of this new treatment, and his saying to us, “You know this will change our lives! I wonder how it will?” In ways we have never guessed, our lives have been enriched and given purpose others only dream about. -Sandra Wilson, USA

Since late 1974 I have jogged, bicycled, traveled, argued, learned, roamed and laughed with Jim Knipe, and have worked out of an office 5 meters fro his. As the joke goes, in spite of all of our time together, we still consider ourselves best friends. Whether I am learning from him, or taking advantage of an opportunity to try some new “stuff” out with him, the time with Jim is so consistently a blessing. That he is also capable of the most gloriously hilariously absurd humor does not diminish the pleasure of being in his company. -John Hartung, USA

From a personal point of view thinking about Jim when I was in Turkey in the autumn of 1999, I now have this vision of him as a kindly Samaritan who spread a sense of calm across the whole proceedings. My theory is that it’s the white beard almost like a trainee Santa Claus. He also struck me as someone with a great sense of humility, always willing to listen to others sympathetically and great at giving the team encouragement and leadership. One small memory that I feel I must write down relates to when we were given a special ashtray designed and realized by (I think) Emre Konuk’s wife. I happened to see the expression on Jim’s face. It was as thought he’d been presented with the (British) Crown Jewels, he was so grateful for the present and surprised, and yet here was a man who’d really earned a special token – it was one of the warmest moments I can recall. - David Blore, United Kingdom

(Revised and updated from an article that appeared in The EMDR Practitioner in 2000).


“A Community of Heart Profile: Jim Knipe,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 15, 2024, https://francineshapirolibrary.omeka.net/items/show/7666.

Output Formats