Mervin Smucker. Imagery-Based CBT Treatment for PTSD.

Since Dr. Smucker first developed Imagery Rescripting as a CBT intervention in the early 1990s, the use of imagery as a primary therapeutic agent in fostering cognitive and emotional processing of traumatic material has been being employed by a growing number of CBT clinicians.  Since much of the cognitive-affective disturbance associated with intrusive memories is embedded in the traumatic images themselves, directly challenging and modifying the traumatic imagery becomes a powerful, if not preferred, means of processing trauma-related material.

Trauma victims suffering from PTSD can be effectively treated with Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy (IRRT) – an imagery-based, trauma-processing CBT treatment (with stabilization components) that blends visual and verbal interventions to access, modify, and process traumatic memories.  Specifically, each IRRT session comprises three phases that involve: (1) visually activating and reliving the traumatic imagery, (2) transforming the trauma-related imagery into mastery/coping imagery, and (3) facilitating emotional self-regulation through self-calming, self-soothing, and self-nurturing imagery.  The goal of IRRT is to: (a) reduce or eliminate posttraumatic stress symptoms, (b) modify maladaptive trauma-related beliefs relating to guilt, shame, anger, and fear, (c) enhance one’s capacity to self-nurture and self-calm, and (d) promote the development of adaptive schemas. IRRT is a manualized CBT treatment for PTSD with empirical support.

Mervin Smucker Ph.D