Developing a Brief Cognitive Task Intervention to Reduce Long-Standing Intrusive Memories of Trauma: A Feasibility Study With Remote Delivery for Women in Iceland

Jóhann Pálmar Harðarson*, Beau Gamble, Kristjana Þórarinsdóttir, Elín Sjöfn Stephensen, Marie Kanstrup, Þorsteinn Guðmundsson, Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir, Arna Hauksdóttir, Andri Steinþór Björnsson, Michelle L. Moulds, Emily A. Holmes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is emerging evidence that a brief cognitive task intervention may reduce the frequency of intrusive memories, even long-standing memories of older trauma. However, evaluations to date have involved in-person researcher contact. We investigated the feasibility and acceptability of remote delivery to women (n = 12) in Iceland who had experienced trauma on average two decades earlier. Method: Participants monitored intrusive memories in a daily diary for one week (i.e., baseline phase), completed (at least) two guided, remote intervention sessions (e.g., via secure video platform), and were encouraged to continue to use the intervention self-guided. Results: Eight participants completed the primary outcome and reported fewer intrusive memories in Week 5 (M = 6.98, SD = 5.73) compared to baseline (M = 25.98, SD = 29.39) – a 68% reduction. Intrusions decreased at each subsequent time point; at 3-months (n = 7) there was a 91% reduction compared to baseline. Other psychological symptoms reduced and functioning improved. Importantly, participant ratings and qualitative feedback support feasibility and acceptability. Conclusion: Findings suggest the feasibility of remote delivery of the brief imagery-competing task intervention by non-specialists (who were not mental health professionals) and hold promise for developing psychotherapeutic innovations supporting women with intrusive memories even decades after trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11237
JournalClinical Psychology in Europe
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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Other keywords

  • feasibility study
  • intervention
  • intrusive memories
  • mental imagery
  • trauma

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