Workshop 1: Tuesday 14th July 2020
Using Imagery Rescripting and Autobiographical Memory to Challenge Negative and Build Positive Selves
Lusia Stopa, University of Southampton
Cognitive therapy has recognized the role of negative views of self in
maintaining distress since its inception (Beck, 1979, 1985). However,
traditional verbal techniques aimed at challenging negative self-beliefs do
not always effect change at an emotional or implicational level
(Teasdale, 1999). To intervene effectively, we need a conceptual model that
does justice to the complexity of the self as well as recognizing the
intimate connection between the self and autobiographical memory, described
by Conway (2005) as the database for the self. The links between
autobiographical memory and the self are often manifest as images and we
can use these to work therapeutically with the self.
This workshop will examine two imagery-based interventions: imagery
rescripting and how to access positive views of self through
autobiographical memories. Both are trans-diagnostic techniques. Imagery
rescripting is a technique that focuses on an early memory to change its
implications and meanings for the self. It is effective for a range of
disorders (Morina, Lancee and Arntz) and describes a family of techniques
rather than a single method of intervention. In this workshop we will focus
on rescripting early memories of bullying using Arntz and Weertman's (1999)
three-stage protocol, but we will also discuss other variants. In the
second part of the workshop, we will examine how to integrate experimental
methods of accessing positive views of the self into clinical work.
Negative views of self often block progress in therapy or limit the
benefits that clients gain. Imagery interventions are powerful tools, but
many cognitive therapists do not regularly assess for images or use imagery
in their interventions. This workshop will enable you to know when and how
to use imagery rescripting. It will also show you how to build positive
views of self following a successful successful rescripting, as well as
drawing on positive autobiographical memories. The latter is novel and
drawn primarily from research into imagery and the self.
Key learning objectives:
1. Be able to critique current conceptualizations of the self in CBT
2. Have knowledge and awareness of alternative conceptualizations of the
self and how these can inform treatment
3. Understand the purpose of imagery rescripting and when and how to use it
4. Understand how autobiographical memories can be used to activate
positive views of self and integrated into therapy
Lusia Stopa is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of
Southampton, UK. She established cognitive therapy training in
Southampton in 2000 and is an active CBT practitioner. Her research
investigates the ways in which negative views of self, often
represented by mental images, maintain clinical disorders, and how they
can be changed in treatment. She is currently writing a book on imagery
interventions for practitioners, which will be published by Guilford
Press later this year.
Arntz, A., & Weertman, A. (1999). Treatment of childhood memories:
Theory and practice. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, 715-740.
Morina, N., Lancee, J., & Arntz, A. (2017). Imagery rescripting as a
clinical intervention for aversive memories: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behaviour
Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 55,
Stopa, L (2009).
Imagery and the threatened self: Perspectives on mental imagery and
(2009). East Sussex: Routledge.