January 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC) provides information about relevant and current research in service of disseminating and promoting evidence-based treatment. This month’s summary focuses on the effects of imagery rescripting on memory outcomes in social anxiety disorder.

Imagery rescripting (IR) is a technique in which patients are guided to re-imagine past negative experiences to meet the needs of the younger self within the memory. The aim is to modify old negative self-representations, connected to core beliefs, which help maintain the disorder. This preliminary study by Romano et al. (2020) demonstrated that IR facilitated increases in positive/neutral memory details of such past experiences, compared to imaginal exposure (IE), which facilitated increases in both positive and negative memory details. Additionally, participants who received IR were more likely to update their negative memory-derived core beliefs.

The intervention groups in this study consisted of a single session of IR or IE, and the author’s note that observed changes in memory-derived core beliefs likely do not fully reflect changes in underlying schema.

Would you expect the impact of IR compared to IE on changing core beliefs to shift over the course of a full treatment? What other approaches have colleagues found most useful in schema change over time?

Romano, M., Moscovitch, D.A., Huppert, J.D., Reimer, S.G., and Moscovitch, M. (2020). The effects of imagery rescripting on memory outcomes in social anxiety disorderJournal of Anxiety Disorders, 69, Article 102169.

Click here for article describing how to conduct imagery rescripting with socially anxious clients.

Robert Yeilding, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Representative of NSAC Newport Beach / Orange County
(Anxiety and Depression Center)