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Getting Rid of Those Pesky Repeating Nightmares

16 Apr

Question: 

I recently watched an interview on YouTube with you and a woman from Martha's Vineyard. [Ed. Note: This was Anne Bassett hosting her excellent program, Vineyard View.  This one-hour interview was broken down into seven YouTube segments.]  

It was very informative.  I have suffered from PTSD for a number of years (I am 62). I have done EMDR work that helped some, and I am recovered from alcohol and drug addiction for almost 20 years now, but I still suffer from the same nightmare - that someone is after me (a man) and I'm trying to hide, because his goal is to murder me.  

What is the best imagery CD to purchase for this recurring experience in my sleep?
Thank you in advance…

Bettina 

Answer:

Dear Bettina,

Actually, there’s a fairly simple procedure that should help you get rid of that repeating nightmare.  And it doesn’t involve years of insight therapy, psychological catharsis or analytic discussion, odd as that may seem.  It’s called varyingly Imagery Rehearsal Therapy or sometimes Nightmare Reprocessing, and it gets pretty astonishing results.  

I wrote it up in my last book, Invisible Heroes, in the section that describes effective, targeted treatments for posttraumatic stress (pp. 308-311), but you don’t have to get the book to learn how to use it, because you can also find a description I wrote as an answer to a similar question on these pages.  And for a play-by-play, I really got into a lot of detail with a true story/case example from a friend of mine, which appears on a piece I wrote for The Huffington Post. I recommend you follow this nightly protocol, and within about 3 weeks, the nightmare should be gone.

Now, this 15- minute protocol requires that you spend a few minutes at the start and the close of the session listening to either your favorite relaxing music or guided imagery.  If you choose to use imagery, I’d recommend you try either General Wellness or Relaxation & Wellness - those were the ones that were used by Dr Donovan with her Vietnam vets, but really it can be anything that you find immersive, relaxing and calming.

And later on, if you want to do some deeper work with the trauma, you could graduate into listening to Healing Trauma.

As I explain in the article, it came as a shock to me that repeating nightmares could be dispensed with so quickly.  It still amazes me!  I found them very hard to banish when I was doing standard insight therapy with people!

I hope this helps.  Let me know.
All best,
Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award