Mental imagery and its relevance for psychopathology and psychological treatment in children and adolescents: a systematic review

  • This review provides an overview of the current state of research concerning the role of mental imagery (MI) in mental disorders and evaluates treatment methods for changing MI in childhood. A systematic literature search using PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, and PsycINFO from 1872 to September 2020 was conducted. Fourteen studies were identified investigating MI, and fourteen studies were included referring to interventions for changing MI. Data from the included studies was entered into a data extraction sheet. The methodological quality was then evaluated. MI in childhood is vivid, frequent, and has a significant influence on cognitions and behavior in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and depression. The imagery’s perspective might mediate the effect of MI on the intensity of anxiety. Imagery rescripting, emotive imagery, imagery rehearsal therapy, and rational-emotive therapy with imagery were found to have significant effects on symptoms of anxiety disorders and nightmares. In childhood, MI seems to contribute to the maintenance of SAD, PTSD, and depression. If adapted to the developmental stages of children, interventions targeting MI are effective in the treatment of mental disorders.

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Author:Susan SchwarzORCiDGND, Dörte GrasmannGND, Franziska SchreiberGND, Ulrich StangierORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):International Journal of Cognitive Therapy
Place of publication:Berlin ; Heidelberg
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2020/10/16
Date of first Publication:2020/10/16
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/10/13
Tag:Adolescents; Children; Mental imagery; Psychological disorders; Treatment
Page Number:25
First Page:303
Last Page:327
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International