What is EMDR therapy?

Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMDR) Therapy is designed to resolve distressing memories of unhappy or traumatic life events which may lead to many ongoing psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, anger outbursts, sleeplessness, eating disorders and phobias.

EMDR was originally developed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD,) but over the years it has been found to be effective in treating a variety of psychological issues, including;

  • distressing childhood memories or abuse
  • bullying
  • rejection
  • loss
  • embarrassment
  • criticism
  • exclusion
  • not feeling in control
  • PTSD and trauma

How does EMDR work?

Bilateral eye movements or sensory stimulation is used to reprocess the traumatic memory, which is ‘stuck’ in the fight or flight part of the brain (the amygdala) and move the memory to the adaptive brain (the cortex).

Here in the cortex the previous alarming memory is now viewed more adaptively – the memory no longer elicits an emotional and physical charge – the client views the memory more dispassionately, no longer feels stressed, and feels more optimistic.


EMDR Therapy aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen useful and positive ways of thinking relating to the traumatic event. At the end of therapy, clients will have gained a sense of emotional balance and will be able to lead effective lives without disruptively negative thoughts, feelings and emotions.

What are the benefits of EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy is targeted to specific issues and so is not a long term “talk therapy”.

There is no homework to do. You do not need to describe in detail the distressing memory, just hold in mind a few key elements of the memory so that stress levels aren’t raised. At the end of processing the client will be able to remember and talk about the distressing memory without distress.


EMDR therapy can take place either in person, or virtually, using  Zoom or another similar application.


For many clients experiencing trauma and distress in their lives, they find EMDR therapy to be an empowering form of treatment, as it involves the client being able to take more control over their lives and their story of what has happened. When a client feels empowered in these areas of overcoming distressing trauma, they often feel they can take control and make further changes in other areas of their life with more energy.


Is EMDR therapy effective?

EMDR therapy is supported by over 25 years of scientific research proving its clinical efficacy and is endorsed by:


In Australia the EMDRAA sets the standard for training. EMDRAA members are professionally qualified mental health practitioners who have completed EMDR training. More information can be found at: www.emdraa.org

Sarah Cotillon

Sarah Cotillon

Sarah Cotillon is a highly qualified counsellor working in South Melbourne with many years of experience in the field. She is a Level 3 member of the Australian Counselling Association and  is fully trained in EMDR Therapy with the EMDR Institute of Australia & New Zealand. Sarah works with couples, adults, and adolescents in a diverse range of settings.

Life Supports EMDR therapists

Many Life Supports therapists are trained and qualified to practice EMDR therapy, in conjunction with other techniques to tailor their approach to you and your needs.

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