The role of dissociation-related beliefs about memory in trauma-focused treatment

Robin P A van der Linde*, Rafaële J C Huntjens, Nathan Bachrach, Marleen M Rijkeboer, Ad de Jongh, Agnes van Minnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objective: Dysfunctional cognitions play a central role in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However the role of specific dissociation-related beliefs about memory has not been previously investigated. This study aimed to investigate the role of dissociation-related beliefs about memory in trauma-focused treatment. It was hypothesized that patients with the dissociative subtype of PTSD would show higher levels of dissociation-related beliefs, dissociation-related beliefs about memory would decrease after trauma-focused treatment, and higher pre-treatment dissociation-related beliefs would be associated with fewer changes in PTSD symptoms. Method: Post-traumatic symptoms, dissociative symptoms, and dissociation-related beliefs about memory were assessed in a sample of patients diagnosed with PTSD (n = 111) or the dissociative subtype of PTSD (n = 61). They underwent intensive trauma-focused treatment consisting of four or eight consecutive treatment days. On each treatment day, patients received 90 min of individual prolonged exposure (PE) in the morning and 90 min of individual eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in the afternoon. The relationship between dissociation-related beliefs about memory and the effects of trauma-focused treatment was investigated. Results: Dissociation-related beliefs about memory were significantly associated with PTSD and its dissociative symptoms. In addition, consistent with our hypothesis, patients with the dissociative subtype of PTSD scored significantly higher on dissociation-related beliefs about memory pre-treatment than those without the dissociative subtype. Additionally, the severity of these beliefs decreased significantly after trauma-related treatment. Contrary to our hypothesis, elevated dissociation-related beliefs did not negatively influence treatment outcome. Conclusion: The results of the current study suggest that dissociation-related beliefs do not influence the outcome of trauma-focused treatment, and that trauma-focused treatment does not need to be altered specifically for patients experiencing more dissociation-related beliefs about memory because these beliefs decrease in association with treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2265182
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • dissociation
  • Dissociation-related beliefs about memory
  • meta-memory
  • PTSD
  • trauma-focused treatment

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