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Kunze, Anna E.; Arntz, Arnoud; Morina, Nexhmedin; Kindt, Merel; Lancee, Jaap (2017): Efficacy of imagery rescripting and imaginal exposure for nightmares: A randomized wait-list controlled trial. In: Behaviour Research and therapy, Vol. 97: pp. 14-25
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Nightmares can be effectively treated with cognitive-behavioral therapies. Though it remains elusive which therapeutic elements are responsible for the beneficial effects on nightmare symptoms, imagery rescripting (IR) and imaginal exposure (IE) are commonly identified as active treatment components of nightmare therapies. With this randomized controlled trial, we compared IR and IE as individual treatments to a wait-list (WL) condition to determine whether these particular therapeutic elements ameliorate nightmare symptoms. For this purpose, 104 patients with a primary DSM-5 diagnosis of nightmare disorder were randomly assigned to three weekly individual sessions of either IR or IE, or WL. Results showed that compared to WL, both interventions effectively reduced nightmare frequency (Adm. wL = 0.74;Delta d(IE-WL) = 0.70) and distress (Delta d(IR-WL) = 0.98;Delta d(IE-WL) = 1.35) in a sample that predominantly consisted of idiopathic nightmare sufferers. The effects of IR and IE were comparable to those observed for other psychological nightmare treatments. Initial effects at post-treatment were sustained at 3- and 6-months follow-up, indicating that IR and IE both seem to be efficacious treatment components of nightmare therapies. Additional research is needed to directly compare IR and IE among both idiographic and posttraumatic nightmare sufferers with respect to treatment expectancy, acceptability, and effectiveness.