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Mental imagery characteristics associated with post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology: An exploratory study to develop an imagery assessment tool

Mueller, Cara (2020) Mental imagery characteristics associated with post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology: An exploratory study to develop an imagery assessment tool. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Mental imagery is a core feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD; American Psychological Society, 2013); evidence suggests that specific imagery characteristics of trauma memories may be associated with PTSD symptomology (Ashbaugh et al., 2018) and change with treatment (Speckens et al., 2006). Currently, no measure of mental imagery assesses all imagery characteristics that may predict PTSD symptomology. The aims of the present study were 1) to develop a tool to assess mental imagery in PTSD, and 2) to apply this tool to investigate which imagery characteristics were associated with PTSD symptomology. The study used thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2012) to develop the imagery codes and assessment tool. Next, the assessment tool was applied to pre- and post-treatment transcripts from 38 adults (21 to 65 years) with a primary diagnosis of PTSD related to childhood trauma, who underwent treatment with Imagery Rescripting or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. Sixteen codes were identified: image clarity, brightness, chromaticity, olfactory, auditory, touch, avoidance, past tense, present tense, reliving, emotionality/affect, psychological distancing, physical distancing, adverbs of degree, change and change in perspective. Inter- (κ = .70 – 1.00) and intra-rater (κ = .58 – 1.00) reliability was sufficient. Pre-treatment transcripts were associated with greater auditory vividness, affect and avoidance and less psychological distancing. Treatment response was associated with less auditory vividness, affect, avoidance and past tense references, and more present tense references. Results support further research to refine the assessment tool to further the understanding and treatment of PTSD.

Keywords: mental imagery, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, trauma memory, imagery, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, EMDR, Imagery Rescripting

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Correia, Helen
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/60694
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