This study compared the effect of imagery rescripting (ImRs) of early autobiographical memories to ImRs of intrusive images and a no task control condition on eating disorder (ED) related core beliefs and ED symptoms in individuals at risk of developing an eating disorder. We qualitatively explored the content of ImRs scripts.
Participants (N = 66, 87.8% females) were allocated to one of three conditions: ImRs of autobiographical memories, ImRs of intrusive images, or a no task control condition. Participants in the ImRs conditions received a 9-min self-guided ImRs intervention in the lab and practiced ImRs daily for the next 6 days online. Participants in the no task control condition took a 9-min break and did not do any further tasks. All participants attended a follow-up testing 1 week after the lab session.
Both ImRs manipulations resulted in greater reductions in negative core beliefs and ED symptoms compared to the no task control group. However, there were no differences among the two ImRs groups. The most widely used rescripting strategy was self-compassion, followed by unhealthy, ED-confirming strategies. No significant associations were found between the ImRs strategies and any of the outcome measures.
ImRs may be a promising intervention for individuals with disordered eating and both early memories as well as intrusive images may be useful targets.