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Success with Vets with Posttraumatic Nightmares

27 Dec

Researchers from the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston conducted an open trial of a group psychological treatment for Veterans with posttraumatic stress and chronic posttraumatic nightmares called "Imagery Rescripting and Exposure Therapy" (IRET).
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 [Ed. Note: This technique is sometimes referred to as Imagery Rehearsal Therapy and/or Nightmare Reprocessing].

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 nightmares treatment can be adapted to successfully reduce distress associated with combat Veterans' chronic nightmares. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

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):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