Emily Holmes: "Mental imagery and mental health"

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Blåsenhus - Betty Pettersson Hall (14:031)
  • Organiser: Department of Psychology
  • Contact person: Gustaf Gredebäck
  • Seminarium

The General Seminar

Professor Emily Holmes, Department of Psychology, Uppsala University: "Mental imagery and mental health: And a journey in the 2 decades since my D-Uppsats in Uppsala to being back here again"


Abstract
Mental imagery provides an experience like perception in the absence of a percept, such as “seeing in our mind’s eye. Psychology is described as the science of mental life -  and our inner images have a powerful impact on our emotion, motivation and behaviour. Although they can be fleeting and elusive, our research methods to investigate imagery are advancing. Better understanding mental imagery offers insights to improve our treatments. Intrusive image-based memories can “flash backwards” to past trauma, for example in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Mental images allow us to time travel and can also "flash forwards" to the future, such as those can occur related to suicide or in bipolar disorder. Indeed, intrusive, affect-laden mental images can cause distress across mental health disorders. 

We are interested in research in experimental psychopathology and its relation to understanding and treating maladaptive mental imagery via psychological therapies. To do this, we are curious about what we can learn from cognitive psychology and neuroscience to inform novel treatment development. Two main areas will be discussed – bipolar mood instability and intrusive images after trauma. First, we will discuss ideas using face-to-face psychological treatment techniques, with reference to imagery-focused cognitive therapy for  mood instability in bipolar disorder, and developing a clinical manual (Holmes, Hales, Di Simplicio, & Young, 2019).  Second, we will discuss more novel intervention approaches and the idea of working with intrusive images of trauma using concurrent tasks rather than talking therapy per se, while moving ideas between the lab and the clinic.  

To reach the scale of mental health “world-wide” we will need (among other things) mental health science to help us improve our treatments. A broader vision for science-informed psychological treatment innovation will be explored (Holmes, Ghaderi et al, 2018, Lancet Psychiatry, se reference 1 below).

That said, most of all however, I am delighted to be here in Uppsala and really looking forward to meeting you. I hope we can begin a discussion and look forward to your thoughts and feedback going forwards. As a few things have changed in the last 2 decades, thanks in advance for your help settling back in!
 

Reference 1, Holmes, Ghaderi, Harmer, Ramchandani, Cuijpers, Morrison, Roiser, Bockting, O’Connor, Shafran, Moulds, & Craske (2018). The Lancet Psychiatry Commission on Psychological Treatments ResearchLancet Psychiatry. 5(3). 237-86.