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Negative self-images are a maintaining factor in social phobia. A retrospective study (Hackmann, A., Clark, D.M., McManus, F. (2000). Recurrent images and early memories in social phobia. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 601-610) suggested that the images may be linked to early memories of unpleasant social experiences. This preliminary study assessed the therapeutic impact of rescripting such memories. Patients with social phobia (N=11) attended 2 sessions, 1 week apart. The first was a control session in which their images and memories were discussed but not modified. The second was an experimental session in which cognitive restructuring followed by an imagery with rescripting procedure was used to contextualize and update the memories. No change was observed after the control session. The experimental session led to significant improvement in negative beliefs, image and memory distress and vividness, fear of negative evaluation, and anxiety in feared social situations. The results suggest that rescripting unpleasant memories linked to negative self-images may be a useful adjunct in the treatment of social phobia.

Original publication




Journal article


Behav Ther

Publication Date





47 - 56


Adolescent, Adult, Cognitive Therapy, Female, Humans, Imagery (Psychotherapy), Life Change Events, Male, Memory, Middle Aged, Phobic Disorders, Pilot Projects, Social Adjustment, Treatment Outcome