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Behav Res Ther. 2017 Oct;97:33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.06.007. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Exposure and non-fear emotions: A randomized controlled study of exposure-based and rescripting-based imagery in PTSD treatment.

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University of Oslo and Modum Bad, Norway.
Modum Bad and University of Oslo, Norway. Electronic address:
Modum Bad, Norway.
University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, United States.
Klinik am Waldschlosschen, Germany.


Interventions involving rescripting-based imagery have been proposed as a better approach than exposure-based imagery when posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with emotions other than fear. Prior research led to the study's hypotheses that (a) higher pretreatment non-fear emotions would predict relatively better response to rescripting as compared to exposure, (b) rescripting would be associated with greater reduction in non-fear emotions, and (c) pretreatment non-fear emotions would predict poor response to exposure. A clinically representative sample of 65 patients presenting a wide range of traumas was recruited from patients seeking and being offered PTSD treatment in an inpatient setting. Subjects were randomly assigned to 10 weeks of treatment involving either rescripting-based imagery (Imagery Rescripting; IR) or exposure-based imagery (Prolonged Exposure; PE). Patients were assessed on outcome and emotion measures at pretreatment, posttreatment and 12 months follow-up. Comparison to control benchmarks indicated that both treatments were effective, but no outcome differences between them appeared. None of the initial hypotheses were supported. The results from this study challenge previous observations and hypotheses about exposure mainly being effective for fear-based PTSD and strengthen the notion that exposure-based treatment is a generally effective treatment for all types of PTSD.


Imagery rescripting; Non-fear emotions; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Prolonged exposure

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