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, 6-15.
Stopa, L (2009). Imagery and the threatened self: Perspectives on mental imagery and cognitive therapy (2009). East Sussex: Routledge.

Registration Fees: BABCP Members Non-Members Student Members
Workshop £80 £100 £60

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