Nightmares are a very common occurrence, with an estimated 4-8% of people having frequent nightmares. This number increases dramatically when looking at particular diagnoses such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia. In fact, it is estimated that 60% of people with PTSD are also suffering with nightmares. I am happy to tell you that I offer a brief and effective, treatment for nightmares. This treatment, called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT), is a proven therapy and is the only treatment rated a “best practice” for Nightmare Disorder by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
If you have PTSD, insomnia, depression, or anxiety, you may be excited to know about the bonus benefits of this therapy. Even though IRT focuses only on treating your nightmares, research has shown that upon successful completion of the therapy, participants experienced significant decreases in distress from PTSD, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. That’s a fantastic “side effect!”
Treatment typically involves four sessions– that’s it! Of course, you have to do your part in between sessions. Researchers who tested this treatment reported that about 90% of participants of this therapy who regularly practiced what they learned in therapy for 2 to 4 weeks experienced significant clinical improvement.
So maybe you are interested but you are hesitating because it’s bad enough to suffer through the nightmares. You don’t really want to go to therapy and talk about the nightmares. And, if trauma underlies your nightmares, you don’t want to talk about that, either. I have got great news for you: in this therapy you do NOT talk about any past traumas or talk about the details of your nightmares! You will be asked to write down one of your nightmares, but you will not share it and you will not revisit that nightmare over and over. Instead, you will be learning how to use imagery (your imagination) to “rewrite” the nightmares in ways that you like better. Now some of you may be worried that you aren’t creative enough for this therapy. Please don’t worry. You don’t need to be some rock star of creativity for this therapy to work.
If you are already working with a therapist for PTSD or any other issue, we can do this treatment concurrently without interfering with your other therapy. I would be happy to coordinate with your therapist once you have given me signed permission to do so.