Mervin Smucker. Imagery-Based CBT Treatment for PTSD

Workshop presented at the 33rd AACBT National Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

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.

In this workshop, Dr. Smucker demonstrates how 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.

IRRT applications are brought to life via instructional videos, experiential exercises, and case examples.  Participants experience first-hand how this combination of intense trauma-processing followed by a stabilization-focused 3rd phase, can lead to dramatic cognitive shifts (sometimes within a single session) that (a) reduce or eliminate PTSD 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 solid empirical support.

Dr. Mervin Smucker