Dr Darra J Murphy
Dr Darra J Murphy MB, BCh, BAO, MICGP (Ire), FRACGP, MFamMed, FASPM (Aus)
I am a medical graduate of University College Dublin (1976), a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP, 1983) and a Master of Family Medicine (Monash University, 1996). I am a Fellow and former President of the Australian Society for Psychological Medicine (ASPM). I have represented the RACGP on the Board of the Mental Health Professionals Network and been Chair of the Psychological Medicine Network of the RACGP (2017-2019).
I spent 25 years in rural general practice, mostly in Gippsland (Victoria). This involved both community and hospital practice in emergency medicine, obstetrics, paediatrics, adult medicine and psychiatry. Along the way, I helped establish an Indigenous Health Service, a Rural Teaching Practice, a Regional GP Training Program, a Rural University Centre and a Division of General Practice. I finished my rural career as Director of Medical Services and Primary Care at Echuca Regional Health. Since 2004, I have been in private clinical practice in Yarraville, an inner-western suburb of Melbourne.
As a GP with a specific interest in psychological medicine, I am deeply concerned about the overuse of psychotropic medication. When President of the ASPM (2014-2016), I helped to develop and implement a Basic Skills Program for GPs in Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS), which remains accredited by the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC). I also developed and delivered an Advanced Learning Module (ALM) for GPs in EMDR Therapy, which was accredited for FPS-CPD in the last triennium.
I first learned about EMDR Therapy in a lecture given by Dr Bessel van der Kolk in 1998, regarding 'trauma-informed' practice. I completed the EMDR Institute Basic Training with Sigmund Burzynski and Anthony Smith in 2000. Since moving to Melbourne, EMDR Therapy has grown from representing ~25% of my clinical practice to ~75%. I trained as an EMDR Institute Facilitator with Sigmund (2010-2011) and then went on to train 'as a trainer' with Dr Shapiro and a number of her Senior Faculty Instructors (2012-2015). I was admitted to the EMDR Institute as a Faculty Instructor in 2015.
I am deeply interested in the physiology of EMDR Therapy and what it is teaching us about the brain, the body and the mind. I am particularly concerned, therefore, to distinguish 'EMDR treatment' (as a technique) from 'EMDR Therapy' (as a distinct, complex and comprehensive approach to psychotherapy). My goal now is to educate the next generation of Mental Health Clinicians (GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and counsellors) about the science behind this uniquely physiological approach to psychotherapy.
Finally, although I am not a trained psychoanalyst, I was fortunate to be mentored by a number of psychoanalytically trained GPs early on in my career. I regard psychoanalysis as the original 'trauma-informed' practice, particularly in terms of how to conceptualise and approach mental health problems. The renewed interest amongst neuroscientists in Sigmund Freud confirms to me that his relevance to psychotherapy and neuroscience is poorly understood and grossly under-estimated. Indeed I have been known to describe EMDR Therapy to my colleagues as: 'psychoanalysis - on steroids'!