Leone Centre Glossary

Trauma History in EMDR

Trauma History

In this entry, we delve into the significance of trauma history in the context of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. We’ll explore how understanding an individual’s trauma history is essential for EMDR sessions.

In-depth Insight

Trauma history refers to the record of distressing experiences that an individual has encountered throughout their life. This can include, but is not limited to, physical abuse, emotional neglect, accidents, natural disasters, and significant losses. In EMDR therapy, understanding this history is essential to address the root causes of emotional distress and to facilitate healing.

Impact on EMDR

The trauma history of an individual plays a key role in the EMDR process. By identifying and acknowledging past traumatic events, therapists can better understand the triggers and presenting issues that need addressing. This awareness helps in structuring EMDR sessions that are specifically adapted to the client’s unique experiences, ensuring a more helpful therapeutic outcome.

Assessment Process

The assessment of trauma history in EMDR involves a detailed exploration of the individual’s past experiences. This typically includes:

  1. Initial Interviews: Discussing the client’s background and identifying significant traumatic events.
  2. Questionnaires and Assessments: Using structured tools to gather detailed information about the trauma history.
  3. Collaborative Planning: Working with the client to prioritise and plan the focus of EMDR sessions based on the identified trauma.


Why is trauma history important in EMDR therapy?
Trauma history is vital in EMDR therapy because it helps identify the specific events that contribute to a client’s current distress. This understanding allows the therapist to personalise the therapy to address these root causes.
How does EMDR help with trauma?
EMDR helps by processing and integrating traumatic memories, reducing their emotional impact and allowing individuals to develop healthier responses to triggers.
What can I expect during the trauma history assessment?
During the trauma history assessment, you can expect a thorough exploration of your past experiences through interviews and questionnaires, aiming to create a comprehensive understanding of the traumas you have faced.


  1. Shapiro, F. (2018). Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Third Edition: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. Guilford Publications.
  2. van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.
  3. Leone Centre. (2024). Understanding EMDR and Trauma. 
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision