Arnoud Arntz
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Arnoud Arntz is professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with an affiliation at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. His main research interests lie in the fields of PTSD and personality disorders, both applied and fundamental. He also practices as a psychotherapist at PsyQ in Amsterdam, where he treats patients with trauma and personality disorders. Together with Adam Radomsky he was editor of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

His research focuses on psychological processes underlying personality disorders (PDs), especially borderline personality disorder (BPD), and anxiety disorders, especially PTSD; and their treatment. Using the approach of experimental psychopathology he tested psychological theories of anxiety disorders and PDs and contributed to the development of their psychological treatment. In developing and testing psychological theories and treatments he aims to connect basic research and clinical work. He is perhaps best known for his contributions to the development of Schema Therapy and Imagery Rescripting. He was project leader of the multicenter RCT that compared schema therapy (ST) to Transference Focused Psychotherapy as treatments of Borderline PD, and of another multicenter RCT that compared ST to treatment as usual (TAU) and CCT for 6 other PDs. Currently he is PI of an international RCT comparing working mechanisms of Imagery Rescripting and EMDR for PTSD that originated from childhood traumas, and together with Dr Joan Farrell PI of the international RCT that compares group-ST to TAU for Borderline PD. Professor Arntz also chairs a Dutch-German collaborative study investigating basic brain and cognitive processes in BPD and their change during treatment, which is associated with the international RCT on group-ST.


Imagery Rescripting: a transdiagnostic technique to address problems related to traumatic and other negative experiences.

In Imagery Rescripting the meaning of the memory representation of a traumatic (or otherwise negative) event is changed by having the patient imagine as lively as possible a different outcome that meets the needs of the patient better. Imagery Rescripting is a powerful technique with empirical evidence for its effectiveness across disorders. It can be integrated in various forms of psychotherapy, or used as a complete treatment. Imagery Rescripting can be applied to memories of events that really happened in the past, but also to imagined events (like in nightmares, or feared future catastrophes). Although it is often applied when patients report intrusions (esp. of a visual kind), the technique can also successfully applied to change the meaning of experiences that contributed to dysfunctional schemas. Although its name suggests that the original memory representation is erased, research indicates that this is not the case. Rather, it seems the meaning of the memory (and not the memory of facts) that is changed.

The workshop will focus on the generic use of Imagery Rescripting, so that participants can use the technique in a variety of clinical problems, including PTSD, social phobia, chronic depression, and personality disorders. The basic protocol will be introduced, with both the therapist changing the script, and the patient from an observer perspective changing the script. Methods to increase the impact on the original memory representation, especially when it comes to (traumatic) childhood experiences will be discussed. Other issues that will be treated include when to start the rescripting, that full reliving of trauma memories is unnecessary, and dealing with problems like dissociation.

The workshop will be active, that is participants will practice techniques in pairs while support is provided; and there will be an interactive part where participants can raise questions and bring in specific cases.


Imagery Rescripting: a method to process memories of traumatic and other negative experiences.

Imagery Rescripting (ImRs) is an experiential method to process memories of traumatic events and other negative experiences that lie at the root of patients’ problems. In Imagery Rescripting patients imagine the original experience but alter the sequence of events so that their needs are better met. With very complex cases and early trauma’s, the focus is on memories from childhood and it is usually the therapist leading the Rescripting and the therapist who intervenes in fantasy to stop abuse, brings safety, and corrects misconceptions about the experience, whilst the patient imagines being the child. With less complex cases and in adult trauma/negative experiences, it is usually the patient who leads the rescripting. ImRs has a wide range of applications, from PTSD, chronic depression and treatment-resistant anxiety and eating disorders to personality disorders. Moreover, it is the standard treatment of nightmares in the US. With patients suffering from visual intrusions the application is quite straightforward as the intrusions, or the memories that they are based on, can be directly addressed in Imagery Rescripting. However with other problems, like a negative self-view or distrust in others, first memories of experiences that underlie such basic schemas need to be found. Usually the use of an ‘affect bridge’ between a recently experience of activation of the schema and a spontaneously early memory helps, and applications of this in a wide range of clinical problems have been found to be effective. Imagery Rescripting has a number of attractive elements, including its broad and flexible range of application, its focus on changing the meaning of the experience, and the fact that it is not necessary to relive the whole trauma in all its details (which increases acceptability and usefulness for very severe cases). In this keynote the clinical effectiveness of ImRs will be discussed, as well as laboratory studies into basic mechanisms that underlie ImRs, indicating that ImRs indeed works thru meaning change.