Treatment of PTSD: a comparison of imaginal exposure with and without imagery rescripting

A.R. Arntz*, M. Tiesema, M. Kindt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We tested whether the effectiveness of imaginal exposure (IE) treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was enhanced by combining IE with imagery rescripting (IE+IR). It was hypothesized that IE+IR would be more effective than IE by (1) providing more corrective information so that more trauma-related problems can be addressed, and (2) allowing patients to express emotions that they had been inhibiting, such as anger. In a controlled study 71 chronic PTSD patients were randomly assigned to IE or IE+IR. Data of 67 patients were available. Treatment consisted of 10 weekly individual therapy sessions and treatment evaluation was conducted post-treatment and at 1-month follow-up. Results show that when compared with wait-list, treatment reduced severity of PTSD symptoms. More patients dropped out of IE than out of IE+IR before the 8th sessions, 51 % vs. 25 %, p =.03. Completers and intention-to-treat analyses indicated that both conditions did not differ significantly in reduction of PTSD severity. IE + I R was more effective for anger control, externalization of anger, hostility and guilt, especially at follow-up. Less strong effects were found on shame and internalized anger. Therapists tended to favor IE + IR as it decreased their feelings of helplessness compared to IE. Results suggest that the addition of rescripting to IE makes the treatment more acceptable for both patients and therapists, and leads to better effects on non-fear problems like anger and guilt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-370
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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