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Imagery Rescripting Therapy Works for Social Anxiety

05 Nov

Researchers from the Kognio Centre for CBT in Lund, Sweden, conducted a small pilot study to see whether Imagery Rescripting Therapy can reduce the distressing images and memories from childhood in people suffering from SAD or Social Anxiety Disorder, enough to lower their distress and anxiety in social situations.
Earlier research has shown that cognitive restructuring combined with imagery rescripting works to remediate social anxiety.  This study examined whether the imagery rescripting without the cognitive restructuring could replicate these effects, using an experimental, between-groups design.

Patients with SAD (N = 14) were randomized to either an intervention of imagery rescripting of early memories or to a reading task.

Follow-up after 1 week showed that the imagery rescripting intervention led to significant improvements in memory and image distress, and reduced fears of negative evaluation and social interaction.

The investigators conclude that their results indicate that imagery rescripting is effective even without cognitive restructuring and question the importance of the latter. However, the small sample limits the strength of the conclusions.

Citation:  Nilsson JE, Lundh LG, Viborg G. Imagery rescripting of early memories in social anxiety disorder: an experimental study. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 2012 Jun;50 (6):387-92. Epub 2012 Mar 21. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award