Intraindividual variability and emotional change as predictors of sudden gains in imagery rescripting and EMDR for PTSD in adult survivors of childhood abuse

Sascha Kuck, Arnoud Arntz, Sophie A. Rameckers, Christopher W. Lee, Katrina L. Boterhoven de Haan, Eva Fassbinder, Nexhmedin Morina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sudden gains, defined as large and stable improvements in symptom severity during psychological treatment, have consistently been found to be associated with better outcomes across treatments and diagnoses. Yet, insights on coherent predictors of sudden gains and on emotional changes around sudden gains in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are lacking. We aimed at replicating a measure of intraindividual variability as a predictor for sudden gains and testing its independence from change during treatment. Furthermore, we expected changes in emotions of guilt, shame and disgust prior to sudden gains to predict sudden gains. Data from a pre-registered randomized controlled trial (RCT) of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (emdr) and Imagery Rescripting (ImRs) for PTSD in 155 adult survivors of childhood abuse were used. Intraindividual variability of PTSD symptoms in both treatments did not predict sudden gains status and was not independent of change during treatment. In the EMDR condition, levels of shame during treatment predicted sudden gains and shame decreased shortly before a sudden gain in both treatments. Reductions in all emotions during sudden gains were significantly higher for participants with sudden gains than for comparable intervals in non-sudden gainers. Our findings do not support the predictive validity of intraindividual variability for sudden gains. The decrease of guilt, shame and disgust during sudden gains warrants further research on their role as a mechanism of treatment change for PTSD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1046
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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