Imagery Rescripting (ImRs) is getting increasingly popular among CBT therapists. For some problems it can be provided as a standalone treatment, for example for PTSD and for nightmares. For other problems, it can be easily integrated in CBT, and it is actually a standard ingredient of some CT protocols as well as of Schema Therapy. Imagery Rescripting has many attractive aspects, such as flexibility to adapt it to specific issues a patient is struggling with, its experiential nature that promotes change processes, and its suitability to focus on early adverse experiences that led to the development of the problems – a domain that has usually been neglected in CBT. Moreover, research indicates that patients tend to further improve after ImRs treatment, which is an attractive feature both for patients and for therapists. I will discuss various applications, the empirical evidence for them, and reflect on what the mechanisms of change underlying ImRs might be. I will argue why emotional memories of (early) adverse events play a role in maintaining disorders, and – when not adequately addressed, play a role in relapse after treatment. This help us to understand why in many diagnoses using ImRs can be helpful to attain durable improvement.
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Arntz, A. (2015). Imagery Rescripting for Personality Disorders: Healing Early Maladaptive Schemas. In N.C. Thoma & D. McKay (Eds.) Working with emotion in cognitive behavioral therapy: techniques for clinical practice. (pp. 175-202). New York: Guilford Press.
Arntz, A. (2015). Imagery Rescripting for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In N.C. Thoma & D. McKay (Eds.) Working with emotion in cognitive behavioral therapy: techniques for clinical practice. (pp. 203-215). New York: Guilford Press.
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Boterhoven de Haan, K., Lee, C., Fassbinder, E., Van Es, S., Menninga, S., Meewisse, M., . . . Arntz, A. (2020). Imagery rescripting and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing as treatment for adults with post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood trauma: Randomised clinical trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 217(5), 609-615. doi:10.1192/bjp.2020.158
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Schaich, A., Braakmann, D., Richter, A., Meine, C., Assmann,N., Köhne, S., Arntz, A., Schweiger, U., & Fassbinder, E. (2020). Experiences of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder with Imagery Rescripting in the context of schema therapy - a qualitative study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 550833. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.550833
Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with an affiliation at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. His main research interests lie in the fields of PTSD and personality disorders, both applied and fundamental. He also practices as a psychotherapist at PsyQ in Amsterdam, where he treats patients with trauma and personality disorders. Together with Adam Radomsky he was editor of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.
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