Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) is an effective treatment for nightmares. In fact, it’s the only treatment the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends for Nightmare Disorder and PTSD-associated nightmares. Research shows it is effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms for about 90% of people who practice the skills they learn in the therapy for two to four weeks.
In addition to reducing or eliminating nightmares, IRT leads to some other benefits: a reduction in severity of insomnia, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. That’s a whole lot of benefit for a four-session treatment! And best of all to my way of thinking, IRT does NOT require participants to dwell on any traumas associated with the nightmares. It also does not require focusing on the traumatic details of the nightmares themselves. Some people find that hard to believe, but it’s true!
So how does IRT work? As I mentioned, it’s four sessions. It is not the kind of therapy that people typically envision. We won’t be talking about your childhood or traumatic events or your feelings. Instead, this therapy is comprised of a lot of what is called psychoeducation. That’s a fancy term for meaning that you’ll be given a lot of information. You’ll learn about the role of nightmares. What causes nightmares, what makes nightmares continue to happen, and can nightmares ever be beneficial? You might be surprised at some of the answers. You’ll learn about how nightmares impact your physical and mental health– it turns out nightmares aren’t just a night-time event.
In the second two weeks, we’ll turn to your imagery system, what you might call your imagination. We’ll learn how you can use your imagination to begin wiping out your nightmares. And it doesn’t require the imagination of a novelist, either. Try this exercise: can you visualize in your mind’s eye how to get from your residence to your favorite restaurant (or grocery store, church, school, work, etc)? If so, congratulations! You’ve got all the imagination you need for this therapy!
If you have nightmares, you might be interested to know that I am forming a group to start July 31st. If you register by July 13th, you can take advantage of early bird pricing of $100 for the entire 4 sessions. After July 13th, the price goes up to $120. Call me at (816) 226-4678 if you have questions or to get registered.