Assessing mental imagery in clinical psychology: a review of imagery measures and a guiding framework

David G. Pearson, Catherine Deeprose, Sophie Wallace-Hadrill, Stephanie Burnett Heyes, Emily Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


Mental imagery is an under-explored field in clinical psychology research but presents a topic of potential interest and relevance across many clinical disorders, including social phobia, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. There is currently a lack of a guiding framework from which clinicians may select the domains or associated measures most likely to be of appropriate use in mental imagery research. We adopt an interdisciplinary approach and present a review of studies across experimental psychology and clinical psychology in order to highlight the key domains and measures most likely to be of relevance. This includes a consideration of methods for experimentally assessing the generation, maintenance, inspection and transformation of mental images; as well as subjective measures of characteristics such as image vividness and clarity. We present a guiding framework in which we propose that cognitive, subjective and clinical aspects of imagery should be explored in future research. The guiding framework aims to assist researchers in the selection of measures for assessing those aspects of mental imagery that are of most relevance to clinical psychology. We propose that a greater understanding of the role of mental imagery in clinical disorders will help drive forward advances in both theory and treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number1
Early online date10 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • mental imagery
  • working memory
  • psychopathology
  • autobiographical memory
  • psychological assessment


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