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Imagery rehearsal therapy for chronic nightmares in sexual assault survivors with posttraumatic stre

15 Aug
Imagery rehearsal therapy for chronic nightmares in sexual assault survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial.
Barry Krakow and his team at the Sleep & Human Health Institute of Albuquerque, New Mexico tested the effectiveness of Imagery Rehearsal Therapy on improving sleep quality and reducing the frequency of nightmares in 168 women with PTSD in New Mexico who had experienced rape and other kinds of life-threatening sexual assault. Participants were randomly assigned the 3 sessions of IRT treatment (n = 88) or the wait-list control condition. They were then tested at 3 and 6 months with several measures, including the Nightmare Frequency Questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep quality Index, the PTSD Symptom Scale and the CAPS (the clinician administered symptom scale). The study found that IRT treatment significantly reduced nights per week with nightmares (p < .001); number of nightmares per week (p < .001); on improved sleep (p < .001); on reported PTSD symptoms (p < .001). It appeared that changes were sustained without further intervention or contact between the 3 and 6 month interval. The study concludes that IRT is a brief, well-tolerated treatment that appears to decresse chronic nightmares, improve sleep quality and decrease PTSD symptoms.

Citation: Krakow B, Hollifield M, Johnston L, Koss M, Schrader R, Warner TD, Tandberg D, Lauriello J, McBride L, Cutchen L, Cheng D, Emmons S, Germain A, Melendrez D, Sandoval D, Prince H. Imagery rehearsal therapy for chronic nightmares in sexual assault survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2001 August 1; 286 (5): pp 537-45.
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