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Effects and Working Mechanisms of Imagery Rescripting


Thomas Ehring, Maximilian Ganslmeier, Anna Kunze, Marena Siegesleitner, Miriam Strohm, Charlotte E. Wittekind, Larissa Wolkenstein


Imagery Rescripting (ImRs) is a promising therapeutic technique for the treatment of several psychological disorders that are associated with aversive emotional memories. During ImRs, patients are instructed to change the aversive memories into less distressing mental images according to their individual emotional needs. ImRs has been integrated into different treatment packages, including cognitive therapy for PTSD and Social Phobia, or schema therapy for Personality Disorders. Recently, there has also been growing evidence for its efficacy as a stand-alone treatment, e.g. in PTSD and Social Phobia. Findings from clinical and experimental studies underscore the efficacy of ImRs to reduce intrusive memories, negative emotions and/or negative schematic beliefs associated with the aversive/traumatic memories. However, research on the working mechanisms underlying ImRs is still limited.

The major goal of our research is to gain deeper understanding of the working mechanisms underlying ImRs as well as on the effects of ImRs in different psychological disorders.
Our current studies include:
(a) Experimental studies that aim to test different analogue research paradigms that may allow us to systematically investigate the working mechanisms of ImRs (e.g., trauma film paradigm, autobiographical paradigms).
(b) Analogue studies that investigate modifications of ImRs in order to improve its efficacy.
(c) Analogue studies examining differential effects between ImRs and imaginal exposure-based and/or cognitive interventions.
(d) Analogue studies that aim to investigate memory processes underlying ImRs.

Related publications from our group

  • Siegesleitner, M., Strohm, M., Wittekind, C. E., Ehring, T., & Kunze, A. E. (2019). Effects of imagery rescripting on consolidated memories of an aversive film. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 62, 22-29. DOI:
  • Kunze, A. E., Arntz, A., Morina, N., Kindt, M., & Lancee, J. (2017). Efficacy of imagery rescripting and imaginal exposure for nightmares: A randomized wait-list controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 97, 14-25
  • Lancee, J., van Schagen, A., Kunze, A. E., Spoormaker, V. (2017). Protocollaire behandeling van patiënten met een nachtmerriestoornis: Imaginatie- en rescriptingtherapie [Treatment manual for patients with nightmare disorder: Imagery rehearsal therapy]. In Keijsers, G., van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, K., & Emmelkamp, P. (Eds.), Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassene met psychische klachten, boek 1 (pp. 391-424). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Boom.
  • Kunze, A. E., Lancee, J., Morina, N., Kindt, M., & Arntz, A. (2016). Efficacy and mechanisms of imagery rescripting and imaginal exposure for nightmares: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 17, 1-14. doi: 10.1186/s13063-016-1570-3.
  • Raabe, S., Ehring, T., Marquenie, L., Olff, M., & Kindt, M. (2015). Imagery rescripting as a stand-alone treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood abuse. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 48, 170-176. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2015.03.013