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Skodzik, Timo; Leopold, Alexandra; Ehring, Thomas (2017): Effects of a training in mental imagery on worry: A proof-of-principle study. In: Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Vol. 45: pp. 24-33
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Worry is characterized by a predominance of verbal thinking and relatively little mental imagery. This cognitive bias of verbal and abstract processing has been found to impair emotional processing of worry topics so that worrisome thoughts are maintained. On the other hand, engaging in mental imagery during the worry process fosters emotional processing of worry themes. In the present study, we examined whether training high worriers (n = 71) to use more mental imagery in their everyday lives is an effective intervention to reduce pathological worry. Results indicated that our novel training in mental imagery (TMI) led to a significant reduction of worry and impairment, assessed both one and five weeks after the training. Furthermore, in highly anxious participants TMI had beneficial effects on controllability of worry, state anxiety, and positive mood. Theoretical and clinical implications of our findings and methodological limitations of this proof-of principle study are discussed.