Leone Centre Glossary

Trauma triggers in EMDR

Trauma triggers

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach often used to address trauma. Understanding trauma triggers within EMDR is vital for comprehending how past experiences influence present emotional and physical responses.

Key concerns

Trauma triggers are stimuli that evoke memories of a traumatic event, leading to emotional or physical reactions. Identifying and managing these triggers during therapy is essential for the therapeutic process.

In the context of EMDR, trauma triggers are key elements that need to be addressed to help patients desensitise and reprocess their traumatic memories. These triggers can be sensory stimuli, such as sights, sounds, smells, or even internal sensations that bring back the trauma experience.

The process involves identifying these triggers and working through them in a controlled and therapeutic setting, which aids in reducing their impact over time.

About trauma triggers

Trauma triggers are defined as sensory stimuli that remind individuals of past traumatic events, causing emotional and physical reactions. These reactions can range from mild discomfort to severe distress, significantly impacting daily life.

Importance in therapy

Recognising and understanding trauma triggers is essential in the EMDR process. By identifying these triggers, therapists can adapt the therapy to address specific stimuli, making the therapy more focused and useful.

EMDR process

During EMDR sessions, therapists use structured techniques to help patients confront and process their trauma triggers. This process involves guided eye movements or other bilateral stimulation methods to assist in desensitising the emotional response associated with the traumatic memory.


What are trauma triggers?
Trauma triggers are sensory stimuli that remind individuals of past traumatic events, causing emotional and physical reactions.
How are trauma triggers identified in EMDR?
In EMDR, trauma triggers are identified through patient history, therapy sessions, and specific questioning techniques designed to uncover these stimuli.
What role do trauma triggers play in EMDR therapy?
Trauma triggers are vital in EMDR therapy as they help therapists understand the specific stimuli that need to be addressed and desensitised during the therapeutic process.
Can EMDR help in reducing the impact of trauma triggers?
Yes, EMDR is designed to help desensitise and reprocess traumatic memories, thereby reducing the impact of trauma triggers on an individual’s emotional and physical well-being.


  1. Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): Basic principles, protocols, and procedures. Guilford Press.
  2. Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.
  3. Leone Centre. (n.d.). EMDR therapy.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision