Translating Science to Practice

Targeting Mental Imagery in Depression

Emily Holmes, Ph.D., interviewed by Jacqueline Persons, Ph.D. 

Evidence-based approaches to treating depression often include strategies for targeting thinking patterns that contribute to depressed mood. However, these interventions typically focus on verbal thought processes. Emily Holmes, PhD and her colleagues have conducted a novel line of research examining the role of imagery in depression and other psychiatric disorders. In this interview, she and Jacqueline Persons, PhD discuss what Dr. Holmes has learned from her research and its clinical implications for assessing and treating imagery in depression.

Holmes, E. A., Blackwell, S. E., Heyes, S. B., Renner, F., & Raes, F. (2016). Mental imagery in depression: Phenomenology, potential mechanisms, and treatment implications. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 12, 249-280.

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 Microformulation form for visual imagery developed by Emily Holmes and Kerry Young.


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About Dr. Holmes

Emily Holmes, PhD is a Professor at the Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience Psychology Division in Stockholm, Sweden. She is also a visiting Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford and holds an Honorary Science Appointment at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK. Dr. Holmes is dedicated to a clinical-research career, combining clinical psychology with cognitive science for the development of more effective psychotherapies. The hallmark of her research is the investigation of mental imagery and emotional biases across psychological disorders, from ‘flashbacks’ in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to ‘flash-forwards’ in bipolar disorder. Dr. Holmes is the Associate-Editor of Behaviour Research and Therapy. She has received numerous honors and awards and in 2014 she received the Distinguished Scientific Award in the area of Psychopathology from the American Psychological Association.

You can read more about Dr. Holmes on her website here.

About Dr. Persons

Jacqueline Persons, PhD is Director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Science Center, a group private practice in Oakland, California, and Clinical Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published articles, chapters, and book on the topics of outcome and change processes in cognitive behavior therapy, especially as it is provided in a naturalistic clinical setting, and on the topic of case formulation in cognitive behavior therapy. Dr. Persons has presented training workshops to clinicians on case formulation and other topics in cognitive behavior therapy at numerous national and international conferences. She is a former President of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology.