Imagery rescripting and negative self-imagery in social anxiety disorder: A systematic literature review

James Lloyd, Magda Marczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
415 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Imagery rescripting (IR) is an effective intervention for social anxiety disorder (SAD) that targets memories of distressing formative events linked to negative self-imagery (NSI). IR is thought to update unhelpful schema by addressing the needs of the younger self within the memory. An accumulating body of evidence indicates that by modifying NSI, IR can significantly affect distressing imagery, memory appraisal, and beliefs about the self. Aims: This systematic review aims to critically evaluate and synthesise literature investigating the existing research on the effects IR has on NSI in SAD. Method: A systematic electronic search of Academic Search Complete, ProQuest, Medline, Scopus and PubMed was performed in February 2021 using pre-defined criteria. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria and were selected for review. Results: Analysis of the reviewed articles' findings identified three main themes: Changes to negative self-images, Memories linked to images and Encapsulated beliefs. IR was associated with significant decreases in image distress, image vividness, memory vividness, memory distress, and encapsulated beliefs. Although reductions were found with image frequency, they were non-significant. Interpretation of results is limited by the small number of studies. Conclusions: IR appears to effectively alter images, memories and beliefs in SAD in as little as a single session. The findings indicate that IR could be utilised as a cost-effective intervention for SAD. However, additional studies and longer-term follow-ups are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-297
Number of pages18
Journal Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number3
Early online date28 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2022


  • early memories
  • imagery rescripting
  • negative self-imagery
  • social anxiety disorder
  • systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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