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Reducing Combat Nightmares in Vets

28 Aug

Researchers from the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston evaluated a group treatment called "Imagery Rescripting and Exposure Therapy" (IRET) for Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic posttraumatic nightmares. (There is a good summary of imagery rescripting tx here.)

IRET is a variant of a successful imagery rescripting treatment for civilian trauma-related nightmares that was modified to address the needs of the Veteran population.

Thirty-seven male U.S. Veterans with PTSD and nightmares attended 6 multi-component group sessions. Findings indicated that the intervention significantly reduced frequency of nightmares and PTSD severity, as well as increased hours of sleep.

Unlike the few open trials examining treatment of nightmares in Veterans, effect sizes in this study were similar to those that have been found in the civilian randomized controlled trial. These preliminary findings suggest that a nightmare treatment can be adapted to successfully reduce distress associated with combat Veterans' chronic nightmares.
Citation:  Long ME, Hammons ME, Davis JL, Frueh BC, Khan MM, Elhai JD, Teng EJ. Imagery rescripting and exposure group treatment of posttraumatic nightmares in Veterans with PTSD. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 2011 May;25 (4): pages 531-5. Epub 2011 Jan 13. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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