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Memory reconsolidation therapy for police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder


Kerswell, NL and Strodl, E and Hawkins, D and Johnson, LR, Memory reconsolidation therapy for police officers with post-traumatic stress disorder, Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 36 pp. 112-123. ISSN 0882-0783 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Society for Police and Criminal Psychology

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11896-020-09363-5


Police officers are frequently exposed to traumatic events and therefore are at elevated risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. While evidence-based treatments for PTSD such as prolonged exposure therapy demonstrate effectiveness, residual symptoms and relapse remain problematic outcomes. Improvements in outcomes may be enhanced by modifying psychotherapy processes based upon recent neuroscientific findings. The present study explored incorporating memory reconsolidation principles into evidence-based exposure therapy for PTSD to create memory reconsolidation therapy (MRT). MRT incorporates memory recall followed by a wait period to make memories liable for modification. Using a case series design, three police officers diagnosed with PTSD participated in a maximum of twelve 90-min sessions of MRT and recorded weekly self-report measures of trauma symptoms and psychological distress. Results indicated participants experienced significantly reduced psychological distress with gains maintained over a 3-month follow-up. A significant reliable reduction in trauma symptoms by post-therapy was identified in two of the three cases with the third narrowly missing the clinically significant cut-off. These significant changes were maintained over the 3-month follow-up in one participant, while the maintenance of these improvements in trauma symptoms approached significance in the other two participants. These findings provide preliminary evidence to justify larger future studies to test the efficacy of MRTwith police officers experiencing PTSD.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:memory reconsolidation, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, police, psychological distress
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Johnson, LR (Associate Professor Luke Johnson)
ID Code:140100
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2020-07-27
Last Modified:2021-03-04

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