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

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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.

Mervin Smucker’s Chess Tips for Beginners

Mervin Smucker is an internationally known psychologist and one of the many millions of people all over the world who plays chess as a hobby. Compared to most board games, chess offers an exceptional depth of strategy, with thousands of entire books having been written on the subject. For novice players, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Mervin R. Smucker provides some general tips sure to help hone any new player’s game.

1. Play as much as possible. The advice might seem like a no-brainer, but with the wealth of chess-related materials available, including puzzles, books, records of famous games, it is easy to forget that the best way to get better at chess is to simply play chess whenever the opportunity presents itself. Look critically at finished games players in order to understand what worked and what did not.

2. Start with a broad overview. As a player’s skill begins to come into focus through playing dozens of games and trying to learn from past mistakes, a book or two on the subject of chess becomes a logical next step. Rather than examining any particular aspect of the game, start with a general overview that can impart a better sense of the flow of the game as a whole.

3. Cultivate strong thinking. Making a cursory examination of the game board and following up with the first move that looks good may be tempting. However, an initially obvious move may not seem so advantageous a few turns later as the board develops. New players especially should not be afraid to take a lot of time considering each move. Thinking deeply and clearly about the game at hand, sustaining focus on the game, and visualizing possible outcomes are vital abilities that can be strengthened with practice.

4. Play lots of computer chess. It can be particularly instructive to play against a highly skilled computer. Although you will likely never win when playing against the computer, you can learn a lot about the strategies of various openings and then transfer what you learn from the computer to games played with humans.

5. Analyze chess games played by experts: analyze the strategies used, including a close-up look at the moves and counter-moves of each player.

Millersville University’s Graduate Clinical Psychology Program

Dr. Mervin R. Smucker earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He then completed a Doctor of Philosophy in the same discipline at Penn State’s University Park campus.
Millersville University offers two tracks for graduate study of psychology: clinical and school. In each case, students earn a Master of Science upon completion of the program. The department awards a certification in school counseling for students working on a Master of Education.

Each student decides how many credits to pursue toward an M.S. in Clinical Psychology. Those who plan to enter a Doctoral program, following their Master’s level work, need only finish 42 credits; those seeking to become professional counselors and enter the workforce are encouraged to earn 60 credits. All students studying the clinical discipline must complete three core classes: psychopathology, research design and statistical analysis, and child development in the family system. To become eligible for a degree, students must meet several criteria, including achieving a 3.0 GPA in core courses, passing three core competency exams, and receiving favorable ratings from the graduate committee.

In addition to attending classes, all students in the clinical psychology program at Millersville must complete 600 hours of fieldwork. While most states require this workload of candidates seeking licensure, the University’s faculty insists that students not seeking licensure also complete this training. Taking place in the spring, the hands-on experience may not occur at a student’s current place of employment. Degree candidates can begin looking for a site in the fall, when the University provides a list of resources. Upon completion of the practicum, students earn six credits toward their diplomas.

The department encourages graduates to keep indefinitely the records of their coursework, including syllabi. In some cases, licensing agencies will ask for additional information regarding an applicant’s training.

Antioch College

Before launching his career as a clinical psychologist and researcher, Mervin R. Smucker received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Foreign Languages from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Established in 1852 by the Christian Connection, a religious movement in the United States during the 1800s, Antioch College opened its doors in 1853. Antioch College, the primary institution within the Antioch University system, remains known for providing students with written evaluations instead of traditional letter grades.

During its early years, Antioch College instructed students in traditional subjects such as history, philosophy, mathematics, Latin, and Greek. Students also earned the opportunity to choose among electives in modern languages, botany, art, and pedagogy. Horace Mann, the first president of Antioch College, delivered a commencement speech in 1859 that included the current motto of the school: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Today, the curriculum at Antioch College has expanded to include a wide array of fields and a special emphasis on interdisciplinary study. Divided into four areas of concentration–arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences—the academics at Antioch College focus on providing students with a well-rounded liberal arts education. Antioch College also offers a number of global seminars designed to introduce students to global issues that extend beyond the reach of the classroom. The seminars, which often feature notable guest speakers and visitors, help students discover their passions and prepare them for their lives as global citizens.

Students at Antioch College also benefit from a co-op work program, which requires them to work in full-time positions every other term and collect college credit. In the past, students have held positions within a wide variety of organizations, including nonprofit organizations, hospitals, museums, and government agencies. Through its co-op work program, Antioch College hopes to provide students with a diverse range of experiences in both academic and professional settings. By leaving campus and working with real-world organizations, students mature and develop valuable leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as a clearer picture of their goals.

Imagery Rescripting as a Therapeutic Agent for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Mervin Smucker, Ph.D.

Mervin Smucker, Ph.D. pioneered the field of imagery restructuring as a component of cognitive behavior therapy. In the following, Dr. Mervin Smucker discusses imagery rescripting as a therapeutic agent for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mental imagery often plays a key role in anxiety disorders. While clients seeking treatment for anxiety disorders such as PTSD often share verbal thoughts, they may leave out mental imagery unless prompted by their therapists. However, these mental images are present in all anxiety disorders and the images that patients see often relate to their main fears as a result of the disorder. For instance, in PTSD, intense mental imagery occurs during flashbacks of the precipitating event. Dr. Smucker emphasizes that imagery is important because it has a powerful effect on negative emotion, and cognitive behavior studies show it actually has more of an impact than verbal processing.

In cognitive behavior therapy, which has proven effective for treating PTSD, imagery rescripting is often used to help clients overcome the negative images they may experience via flashbacks and/or nightmares. In imagery rescripting, the existing trauma-related images and their meanings are transformed into mastery/coping images that help the client to feel more empowered and in control. In order for this approach to be effective, therapists must first establish a trusting environment in which the client feels safe. Once the safe environment is established, the therapist guides and accompanies the client through the upsetting imagery via three phases: (1) Imaginal Reliving – visually activating and verbally describing the upsetting images in vivid detail (including the entire memory network and associated affect), (2) Mastery Imagery – replacing victimization imagery with mastery/coping imagery via challenging, confronting, and modifying the distressing images, (3) Self-Compassionate Imagery – visualizing oneself as an empowered individual today nurturing, soothing, comforting, reassuring the “traumatized self” back then.

Imagery rescripting benefits the client in many ways, which includes facilitating expression and organization of feelings, enabling the client to reach closure, decreasing flashbacks, nightmares, and other PTSD-related anxiety symptoms, and improving overall post-trauma adjustment.

Penn State’s Graduate Program in Psychology

Psychologist Dr. Mervin R. Smucker earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), where the Department of Psychology, located at the University Park campus, only accepts application from candidates to the doctoral program; although in many cases students earn a Master’s degree in the course of their studies.

Each year, Penn State’s Department of Psychology accepts a select group of applicants. In 2010, the admissions officials allowed 22 students to join the program, which includes about 100 graduate scholars. At the start of their tenure, students must select a major from five choices: Social, Industrial-Organizational, Clinical, Cognitive, and Developmental. They can then select a minor if they so desire, but the program does not require it.

The graduate psychology program consists of a variety of learning methods, including practical experience, research, coursework, and a dissertation, which must be completed by the end of the fifth year. The usual path for students includes taking classes during the first few years and finishing a comprehensive exam at the end of the third year. To fund psychology studies, some students serve as graduate assistants, working about 20 hours each week. Other financial aid comes from collaborating with professors on grant-funded research, private scholarships, and training grants.

Dr. Mervin R. Smucker followed the clinical track while engaging in his graduate studies at Penn State. He wrote a dissertation entitled, “The Children’s Depression Inventory: Norms and Psychometric Analysis.” Unlike some graduate programs for psychology, Penn State’s clinical training serves professionals who seek to engage in research in addition to treating patients. The institution’s faculty dissuades students who wish to concentrate solely on private practice. The clinical section of the program includes the scientific method, as well as intervention and assessment. Upon completion of the dissertation and the awarding of the Ph.D., students should be qualified for licensure in most U.S. states.

For more information about Penn State’s graduate psychology program, visit