Researchers from the San Diego V.A. system examined the efficacy of Imagery Rehearsal Therapy or IRT (a kind of nightmare reprocessing therapy that trains people to use a variety of “lucid dreaming” to change or control the content of the nightmare) on reducing nightmares in veterans seeking outpatient treatment for chronic, trauma-related nightmares.

Of those offered IRT, veterans who completed a full course of treatment for PTSD in the past year were more likely to initiate treatment.  However, completion of IRT was not related to previous treatment, demographic variables, or nightmare severity as reported at the first treatment session.

Treatment completers reported significant reductions in nightmare frequency and intensity, severity of insomnia, and subjective daytime PTSD symptoms.  Insomnia and PTSD symptoms, on average, were below clinical cutoffs following treatment, and 23% of patients showed a complete treatment response (defined as one or no nightmares per week).

These findings suggest that IRT may be an effective short-term treatment for nighttime and daytime PTSD symptoms among veterans who complete a full course of treatment. 2009.

[Ed. Note: Beverly Donovan PhD and Edgardo Padin-Rivera at the Louis B Stokes VAMC created their own adaptation of IRT - mixed with some EMDR steps - with extraordinary success.  I describe this in Invisible Heroes and it has been written up in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. I described it detail for Huffington Post here.]

Citation: Nappi CM, Drummond SP, Thorp SR, McQuaid JR.  Effectiveness of imagery rehearsal therapy for the treatment of combat-related nightmares in veterans. Behavioral Therapy. 2010 Jun;41 (2): pp.237-44. [email protected]