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Mervin R. Smucker, Ph.D., is an Experienced Psychologist

Monthly Archives: April 2013

Dr. Mervin Smucker: Underlying Cognitive Processes of Imagery Rescripting

Best known for his development of imagery rescripting, a clinically proven treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder, Dr. Mervin R. Smucker has focused his career on developing and refining this system. He has traveled the world training practitioners in this method, while writing and publishing extensively on the topic.

Centered on transforming maladaptive schemas, imagery rescripting actively alters the mental response to a damaging memory. For many who suffer from PTSD, these memories both encourage and are affected by a sense of victimization. These individuals may feel that they are inherently worthless or bad, or that they are helpless and vulnerable in the face of the world. These schemas are so ingrained that they form the basis for the person’s response not only to the memories of the event but to stimuli in the present.

For this reason, imagery rescripting seeks to change this schema and replace it with one in which the person is able to cope. The treating professional begins by calling up memories of the event, which is then relived in the therapeutic environment. However, images are also introduced in which the person responds constructively to the event. This reprograms the original maladaptive schemas and replaces them with a sense of self-worth and capability.


“Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” by Dr. Mervin Smucker

An innovative form of treatment, Imagery Rescripting and Reprocessing Therapy, or IRRT, uses imagery-focused interventions to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The genesis of the method comes from the belief that much of the reaction to a traumatic event occurs through sensations and images rather than words. Therefore, treating PTSD solely through language becomes difficult.

Through IRRT, clients simultaneously undergo imaginal reliving, which reactivates the traumatic memory, and imaginal imagery, which uses coping imagery to alter the traumatic memory. During this process, patients change the negative experience into a positive one that re-imagines them as empowered individuals rather than victims. Successful IRRT sessions transform how people react to the event and eliminate related feelings such as powerlessness, culpability, and incompetence.

About the Author:

An international trainer, consultant, and lecturer, Dr. Mervin R. Smucker hosts cognitive behavioral therapy trauma workshops and seminars across the world. The creator of IRRT, Dr. Mervin Smucker wrote about its benefits in caring for people with PTSD in 2012.