Imagery rehearsal therapy

What is imagery rehearsal therapy for PTSD?

Imagery rehearsal therapy is a commonly used cognitive-behavioural intervention for post-traumatic nightmares. The basic components include sleep education, a dream narrative that includes a change to some aspect of the nightmare, and imaginal rehearsal of the new dream narrative. Some imagery rehearsal therapies also include exposure components, such as reading the written account aloud to the therapist and/or therapy group members. Some also include components of cognitive-behavioural therapy such as sleep restriction, stimulus control, and sleep hygiene.

What is the evidence for imagery rehearsal therapy?

Moderate quality evidence found medium to large effects of reduced PTSD symptom severity, nightmares, and increased sleep quality following imagery rehearsal therapy. These effects remained for 6 to 12 months following treatment. Samples treated with cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia plus imagery rehearsal therapy reported more improvement in sleep quality, but not nightmare frequency or PTSD symptoms, than samples treated with imagery rehearsal therapy alone. Civilian samples reported more improvement in sleep quality than veteran samples.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 4:06 am, 12th October 2021
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