Stressless Study

Study on improving staff well-being by processing troubling memories

Ever wondered why we keep recycling the same scenario or event?

Our brains are wired to survive. We pay attention to and store threatening, scary or traumatic events to protect us the next time we are exposed to a similar risk. However, storing memories from events that happened in the past can also be unhelpful and uncontrollable, leading to ongoing distress.

These memories can play out in your mind (memories, words, pictures) and, also cause a response in your body (fast pulse, dry mouth or muscle tension similar to when the event happened) or emotional (fear, shame). Most of these responses settle with time, but many of us remain troubled by past events.

We are doing this study because we have come across a therapy that seems to keep the memory intact but removes its distressing aspects. It is simple, quick and user friendly. And if it turns out to be as helpful as we have experienced, it could be an effective way to reduce people’s suffering, increase well-being and quality of life.

There are no randomised controlled trials investigating its effectiveness, and this will be the first of its kind. People who enrol in the study will be randomised to receive one of two sets of strategies. After completing the main part of the study, participants will also be offered the intervention they haven’t yet received.

We will be measuring differences in a range of validated scales measuring well-being before and after the study and asking for your feedback on the strategies.

If you’re interested, email:

The study has ethics approval, granted 18 March, 2022, number AH23757. The people involved in the study are: Dr Josephine Stanton, a psychiatrist at Child and Family Unit in Starship; Dr Karen Lindsay, Consultant Immunologist at Te Toka Tumai; Dr Shamsul Shah, Palliative Care Specialist at Te Toka Tumai; Professor Bruce Arroll from the Department of General Practice and Primary Care at the medical school and Briar Greedus, a psychology graduate.