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Imagery Rescripting In Schema Therapy

“But what does Imagery /rescripting (IR) actually do that makes it so powerful?”,

my supervisee asked recently. It’s a good question, especially given that IR is one

of the central components of Schema Therapy. Schema Therapy (ST) is an

integrative theory of practice that draws from many perspectives, including

Experiential therapies, to access and heal painful past experiences and memories.

So what does it actually do, as my supervisee asked? IR exercises harness the

power of the imagination and visualization to identify schemas and modes and

modify traumatic memories. We go back to the original memory in a “safe” way,

and using our imagination, we find empowerment, safety, and comfort by

approaching the memory from a different angle—one of support, validation and

meeting the need of the traumatized client. In so doing, we change the meaning

that the aversive memory has, and therefore reduce negative feelings associated

with it.

This is so poignant, especially with traumatized clients. Think of a woman who

remembers her child self with loathing and contempt: “I was not a good

kid—messy, moody, and angry a lot—no wonder my parents didn’t spend a lot of

time with me!” Now imagine that she goes back to a memory of being

”moody”—and finds herself as a child alone in her room, where it turns out, she

spent most of her childhood while her parents were drinking downstairs. She

sees a sad girl, lonely and alone, wanting only to be loved and please her parents,

who are pretty much oblivious to her. Perhaps her therapist has the adult woman

enter the memory, and comfort the child, show her that it’s not her fault she’s

alone, and maybe even have the adult woman confront the parents in the

memory. The adult client suddenly “sees” that what happened wasn’t because

she wasn’t good enough, and she is able to begin to make better sense of many of

her experiences in adult relationships that relate to that old underlying belief.

It is quite astounding to see the transformation brought about by IR. I remember

the first time I did it in my Certification training. The emotion that good imagery

elicits is what makes it so powerful, and being able to be in that moment with the

“child” lets the therapist gain access to underlying beliefs and memories in a way

that is very hard to do without this technique.

The good news is that Dr Joan Farrrell is presenting to the STTC on “Powerful

Imagery Rescripting Techniques” on October 19. Come and join us as we brush

up and refreshen our skills in this critical area. Sign up soon while there are still

spots available!

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