A Community of Heart Profile: John Marquis



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.! Perhaps, this is 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 admixture 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 would lend 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 as 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 where 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 fulfilled part of his requirement for his doctorate by writing his 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 in 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.

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 out 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.

After John 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.

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 has been in private practice since 1964 and lists his areas of specialization as the following: “phobias, anxiety, stress, and panic disorder: relaxation training and application; breathing training for hyper-ventilators; 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.

Through all the years of John’s career he has 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 John’s 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 from 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”!

John’s personal life is as rich as his professional life. His wife Pat of 43 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 is the 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 is a gourmet cook and amateur gardener who grows fresh herbs and citrus for their table. He loves to go snorkling.

John’s dedication to psychology, the EMDR family and the larger community of the world is apparent in who he is and all that he does. How lucky we are to have John Marquis among us.


“A Community of Heart Profile: John Marquis,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 15, 2024, https://francineshapirolibrary.omeka.net/items/show/7672.

Output Formats