Over the past decade, trauma has become an integral part of our understanding of human psychology. As we recognise trauma more and acknowledge how it permeates so many levels of mental health, we as therapists need to find multiple ways to make space for trauma in our clinical work. Many modalities work with trauma, but it can also be daunting to bring them into your therapeutic practice. Applying Imagery Rescripting to your trauma toolkit is a potent way to help your clients who are experiencing PTSD from childhood trauma. Our online training will not only help you to understand what Imagery Rescripting is and how to do it. It will also foster a belief in the power of the practice as a way to bring meaningful change to your clients.
Katrina Boterhoven de Haan, one of our Imagery Rescripting Online trainers, is a confessed ‘imagery geek’. She began her work as a clinician in a sexual assault centre in Perth, so trauma has always been a vital part of her work. It was during her Masters, when she was studying with Dr Chris Lee, that she fell in love with Imagery Rescripting as a means for working with trauma.
IREM Trial: Validating Imagery Rescripting
Her interest in imagery led her to focus on Imagery Rescripting for her PhD. Katrina was able to work with Imagery Rescripting specialist Arnaud Arntz. Together they carried out the first large scale research trial comparing the effectiveness of Imagery Rescripting and EMDR. The IREM trial was an international multicentre randomised control trial, carried out over seven sites and across three countries. The research aimed to provide much-needed data on Imagery Rescripting and its effectiveness with childhood trauma. Such data would provide better outcomes for therapists, reduce the burden on mental health services, and improve clients’ quality of life.
The study involved 12 therapy sessions, held twice a week for up to eight weeks. For the Imagery Rescripting group, patients were informed about the treatment process. In their first session, they mapped out a plan for working through their traumatic memories. Trauma processing began from session two. There were 155 participants in the study, and 142 completed the treatment. This gave a drop rate of 7.7%, which is incredibly low for a trauma treatment protocol. Similar studies show dropout rates of 18-45%. Therapists and clients focused on trauma processing throughout the trial, so this dropout rate reflects how committed and involved the participants were.
The results showed a significant reduction of all measures over time. Post-treatment follow up after eight weeks showed that 68% of participants were no longer experiencing symptoms of PTSD. This number increased to 81% at a one-year post-treatment assessment. These are incredible results and validate the effectiveness of Imagery Rescripting as a means for treating PTSD and childhood trauma.
Reconnecting with a core sense of self
The IREM study shows how Imagery Rescripting works for clients who developed trauma over a prolonged period of time. They might have grown up in an environment of deprivation where their core needs were not met. If you have clients who exhibit signs of unhealthy attachment tendencies and who you suspect are holding a lot of trauma from childhood, then Imagery Rescripting can help you to address their needs. It allows clients to reconnect to their core sense of self.
Katrina is passionate about imagery because it helps both client and therapist cut to the emotional centre easily. There is a tangible change in the air of the room when imagination is called into the space. You can feel the client shift from cognition to feeling, as they go deep into their memories and then harness the power of imagery to reclaim their sense of self.
Add Imagery Rescripting to your trauma toolkit
When you experience this profound shift in your clients, your respect for and belief in imagery as a therapeutic tool also deepens. The client's feelings of release and self-agency become synonymous with your sense of trust in the practice of Imagery Rescripting. If you’re interested in learning how to use imagery to work with trauma, check out Katrina’s podcast with Dr Rob Brockman on What’s the Schemata? If you would like to know more about how imagery works therapeutically and want to add Imagery Rescripting to your trauma toolkit, watch our free webinar where we break down the content of our online training.