Sandra Wilson’s 1995 dissertation research was the basis for the first validating study of Shapiro’s original research. To honor Dr. Wilson, the Dissertation Award has been renamed. The publication of her dissertation research was so pivotal for EMDR therapy it seems like a fitting tribute, and, for any award recipient, an appropriate inspiration. 

Eligible doctoral students may apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to support dissertation expenses related to research to study the effectiveness of EMDR in one of the following priority areas.

Areas of Priority

Eligible doctoral students may apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to support dissertation expenses related to research to study the effectiveness of EMDR in one of the following priority areas

1st Priority – Advancing Evidence-Based Practice: Increase the availability of quality EMDR research in areas where we already have a foot-hold in the literature but where more evidence is needed. Specifically, those areas are in the use of EMDR therapy to treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Military PTSD
  • Phantom Limb Pain
  • To enhance recovery from the impact of cardiac events and the diagnosis and treatment of cancer

2nd Priority – Addressing the Global Burden of Trauma: Investigate the use of EMDR in natural or man-made disaster responses, by determining the effectiveness of the following protocols: early intervention protocols, the child or adult group protocols, or the use of EMDR standard protocols in disaster response.

3rd Priority – Building Clinical Evidence: There are several areas where EMDR therapy is being used, clinical observations are positive, and there are some research indicators of success. However, more research is needed to build a body of literature in these populations or diagnostic categories, including but not limited to:

    • Addictions
    • Eating disorders
    • Dissociative disorders
    • Additional medical/somatic conditions
    • Suicide prevention and to address the impact of suicide

These priorities apply to research across the lifespan so that a study might address, for example, adolescent addiction, or geriatric depression.


Doctoral students in social work, psychology, and nursing who have completed their course work and have an approved dissertation proposal are eligible to apply for this grant. As an international organization, the EMDR Research Foundation supports applications from students who are citizens of any country who are studying in any country within the fields specified. Applications, however, must be submitted in English.


Applications are due February 1st and July 1st. The recipients of the award will be notified of their selection by May 1st and October 1, respectively. The EMDR Research Foundation only accepts applications through our online application system, which is accessible through our website by clicking here. An electronic copy of each application with all supporting documents is required – and is only accepted through the online application form. Any application received without all required documents will not be reviewed. Applicants are encouraged to carefully review the required documentation and prepare all documents for uploading before initiating the online application.

The required application documents are:

  • Completion of online application form fields including:
    • Name, phone number(s), email address, complete mailing address, university, graduate department or school, dissertation title, and abstract.  (Note: abstract may be entered into the abstract form field or uploaded.)
  • A curriculum vitae [upload through the online application]
  • Letter of recommendation from the dissertation advisor [upload through the online application]
  • Two additional academic letters of recommendation [upload each letter (up to two) through the online application, or combine all letters into one file and upload through the online application]
  • The approved dissertation proposal [upload through the online application]
  • Timeline for completion of the dissertation [upload through the online application]
  • Evidence of IRB approval [upload through the online application]
  • Proposed project budget (this may exceed the amount of the dissertation grant) [upload through the online application]

Incomplete applications will not be reviewed and mailed or faxed documents will not be accepted. All documents must be submitted simultaneously through the online application. Materials received after the deadline will not be accepted or reviewed. There will be no extensions of deadlines for any individual for any reason. Applicants are advised to keep a complete set of application documents for their own files.

Selection Criteria

A committee of scholars with expertise in research design and EMDR will independently and blindly review each application. The committee will consider the following criteria when evaluating the merits of each application:

1. The degree to which the proposed dissertation addresses the priority areas established by the Foundation as listed in this announcement

2. The overall methodological quality of the proposed research project. Please note: qualitative and quantitative methods are both valuable scientific approaches. The evaluation of a proposal will be based on the soundness of the methodological choices made to most effectively answer the research questions.

3. The potential significance the study has for building knowledge in and strengthening EMDR practice

4. The feasibility of the proposed study and the applicant’s ability to complete it promptly

5. The strength and characteristics of the references

Allowable Dissertation Expenses

The applicant may use the dissertation grant to cover the costs of conducting the proposed study, but may not use it to pay for tuition, travel, equipment, or for one’s time. Examples of allowable costs include: instruments, transcriptions, interviewers, coders, software, statistical training or consultation, printing, photocopying, office supplies, postage, travel to interview sites, and incentives for participants.

Reporting Expectations

A progress report will be due one year after the funding cycle begins. The award recipient will be expected to provide an overview of progress made toward completion of the dissertation and an accounting of expenditures covered by the grant. An updated timeline should also be provided in the report. Upon completion of the dissertation, a final report will be due summarizing expenditures, along with a copy of the approved dissertation.

Apply to:

Submit application online through the tab at the top of this page. Questions can be directed to

To view a PDF version of this document, please click here.
Updated 8/25/2015

Applications for the Sandra Wilson Memorial Dissertation Grant Award are due February 1 and July 1.. An electronic copy of each application document is required. Documents must be in Word (.DOC) or Portable Document (.PDF) format. Any application received without all required documents will not be reviewed. Carefully review the eligibility, selection criteria, allowable expenses, duration of project and reporting expectations; and prepare all required application documents for uploading before initiating this electronic application form.