Background: High rates of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are reported in people who hear voices (auditory hallucinations). A recent meta-analysis of trauma interventions in psychosis showed only small improvements in PSTD symptoms and voices. Imagery Rescripting (ImRs) may be a therapy that is more effective in this population because it generalizes over memories, which is ideal in this population with typically repeated traumas.
Aims: The primary aims of this study were to investigate whether ImR reduces (1) PTSD symptoms, and (2) voice frequency and distress in voice hearers.
Method: We used a single arm open trial study, case-series design. Twelve voice hearers with previous traumas that were thematically related to their voices participated. Brief weekly assessments (administered in sessions 1–8, post-intervention, and at 3-month follow-up) and longer measures (administered pre-, mid- and post-intervention) were administered. Mixed regression analysis was used to analyse the results.
Results: There was one treatment drop-out. Results of the weekly measure showed significant linear reductions over time in all three primary variables – voice distress, voice frequency, and trauma intrusions – all with large effect sizes. These effects were maintained (and continued to improve for trauma intrusions) at 3-month follow-up. On the full assessment tools, all measures showed improvement over time, with five outcomes showing significant time effects: trauma, voice frequency, voice distress, voice malevolence and stress.
Conclusions: The findings of the current study suggest that ImRs for PTSD symptoms is generally well tolerated and can be therapeutically beneficial among individuals who hear voices.