I have been having the worst dreams this past week. I hate bad dreams, like most people, and they can give me very real anxiety and drain my energy. A couple of months ago I was listening to a therapist, Kati Morton, answering questions on YouTube, and one question was about dealing with nightmares. She mentioned a technique that she had read about but never used with patients. It’s called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) and entails three steps:
Create a detailed alternate ending to a recent nightmare. Start with a less-frightening nightmare that doesn’t upset you too much. One of the creators of this technique, Karkov, does not tell patients which type of change to make and encourages patients to rely on their intuition.
Write down the new version of the dream.
Use a couple of minutes that day to think of this altered version of the dream.
This technique worked in 70-80% of people within one to two weeks. The interesting thing to me is the alterations you make up do not have to be rational because it’s a dream. So if you had a nightmare that your dog died, your ending could be that it comes back to life and you live happily ever after. The goal is to reprogram nightmares for the next time they may happen.
I started today because I remembered hearing about this. It felt kind of stupid because one of my nightmares was not salvageable. So my change was that I time travelled to the beginning of the nightmare, and the events of that nightmare did not recur. This technique is apparently very successful amongst the PTSD community in relieving nightmares very quickly.
I’m down to try it. For me, nightmares come in waves. I’ll have a week or two of bad dreams, and then I won’t remember having dreams at all for months. Anyways, that’s what’s going on in my life. I know a lot of people struggle with nightmares from time to time, and I thought I could share this random piece of information that could help.