Memories in Public Speaking Performance Anxiety Reconstructed: A Qualitative Exploration Using Imagery Rescripting

  • K.S.F.M. Hermans


Prior research on social anxiety disorder (SAD) has demonstrated the importance of anxiety provoking images which can be related to memories. Furthermore, by targeting the scope and meaning of these images, imagery rescripting (ImRs) has been proven to be effective. The present study examines how imagery plays a role in young adults’ public speaking anxiety, a specifier of SAD. This is studied by reconstructing memories in adolescence conducted through ImRs. It was aimed to look for memories that provoked anxiety responses similar to the current anxiety and study them in terms of etiological factors. With regard to etiology, influence of negative teacher behavior was reported. The present results therefore suggest the factor teacher behavior as additional factor to Rapee and Spence’s model on SAD when describing the development of public speaking performance anxiety. Furthermore, the results provide indications that ImRs could be effective for the specific anxiety group also. The focus should then be on negative teacher behavior as contributing to the anxiety. Finally, future research could examine whether a cognitive session preceding the ImRs will improve the effect of the intervention. This is considered as the time frame between the memory and the intervention is short and the young adult could still be vulnerable to teacher influence. Cognitively challenging encapsulated beliefs could then make the adult more aware of the teacher’s deviant behavior in their memories. Ultimately, this could facilitate thinking of interventions to change this behavior. 


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