Reduced intrusion development after post-trauma imagery rescripting; an experimental study

M. A. Hagenaars, A.R. Arntz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and objectives: Contemporary theories predict PTSD development after trauma if trauma information is not adequately processed or negatively appraised. Mental imagery and emotional processing seem to be strongly related and evidence-based treatment strategies such as imaginal exposure and EMDR indeed include imagery as a main component. Moreover, imagery rescripting of traumatic memories is an effective treatment for PTSD.

Methods: The present study combined these lines of research and investigated the impact of early imagery rescripting on intrusion development after an aversive film. Seventy-six participants were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: imagery rescripting (IRS), imagery reexperiencing (IRE) and positive imagery (PI). All participants watched an aversive film, had a 30-min break and then received a 9-min intervention (IRS, IRE or PI). They indicated subjective distress during the intervention, recorded intrusive memories of the film for 1 week and completed the Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI) and a cued recall test one week later.

Results: The IRS group developed fewer intrusive memories relative to the IRE and PI groups, and less negative cognitions than the IRE group, while cued recall was enhanced in IRS and IRE groups compared to the PI group. IRS and PI groups experienced less distress during the intervention than the IRE group.

Limitations: This is an analogue design and results should be replicated in clinical samples.

Conclusions: The results suggest that IRS might be an adequate technique to change memory consolidation at an early stage and therefore a powerful and non-distressing strategy to prevent PTSD symptoms. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-814
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Imagery rescripting
  • PTSD
  • Intrusive memories
  • Intrusions
  • Prevention
  • ACUTE STRESS DISORDER
  • COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
  • PERSONALITY-DISORDERS
  • CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
  • EXPOSURE
  • DISSOCIATION
  • TRAUMA
  • FEAR
  • INFORMATION

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