OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of one
session of instructions on the frequency of chronic nightmares and on
self-rated distress. METHOD: Twenty-eight volunteers with chronic
nightmares (mean duration = 19 years) were treated with either one session
of desensitization with instructions on how to practice this treatment or
with one session of instructions to change the nightmare and how to
rehearse the new version. The authors administered four scales of the
SCL-90 and the corresponding scales of the Symptom Questionnaire. RESULTS:
At 7-month follow-up of 23 patients, there was a significant reduction in
the frequency of nightmares and significant decreases in self-rated
depression, anxiety, and hostility. There were no significant differences
between the effects of the two types of treatment. In four patients, whose
mean duration of nightmares was 23 years, the nightmares ceased.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this preliminary study suggests that the
instructions given to the patients reduced the frequency of their chronic
nightmares and decreased their self-rated distress.