Nightmare Therapy: Filling a Missing "Peace" of Recovery from PTSD

Training Description

Trauma survivors often report suffering from dreams that reference traumatic incidents. In addition, the re-occurrence of trauma memories during sleep has long-term, negative physical ramifications and emotional impacts on interpersonal relationships and occupational functioning. Clients who experience dissociative episodes and traumatic stress symptoms can learn about issues underlying their nightmares and be empowered to better understand their symptoms, resulting in increased resilience. This presentation discusses Nightmare therapy/Dreamwork techniques designed to reduce the frequency and intensity of trauma-based nightmares. A major emphasis will be the description and case examples of two methods of working with traumatic nightmares: sand-play processing and a writing technique. Both techniques allow for a nightmare to be discussed in a counseling milieu using a structured format that allows for titrated exposure to traumatic material and stimuli. A major goal of each nightmare therapy technique is to use a client’s nightmare “story” to facilitate the healing process, thereby minimizing the negative influence of nightmares on survivors. This workshop is designed for advanced clinical practitioners who wish to enhance their skills addressing specific traumatic memories that impact on their clients’ lives. 

Length of Training
3 Hours
Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
Objectives of Training
Participants will be able to identify and describe two methods of intervening with traumatically-based nightmares.
Participants will be able to articulate areas of assessing and the importance of dialoguing with traumatized clients about their nightmares, as well as ways of intervening to facilitate changes with recurrent nightmares.
Participants will be able to use a template to facilitate their intervention with clients and process underlying issues stemming from clients’ recurrent trauma-based nightmares.
Training Platform
Sources Cited

Boik, Barbara Labovitz; and Goodwin, E. Anna (2000). Sandplay therapy: A step-by-step manual for psychotherapists of diverse orientations. New York: W.W. Norton. 

Daniels, LR (2013). War-related Traumatic Nightmares as a Call to Action. In RM Scurfield & KT Platoni (Eds.) Healing War Trauma: Using Creative Approaches (pp. 128-142), New York, NY: Routledge. 

Daniels, L.R., and McGuire, T. (1998). Dreamcatchers: Healing traumatic nightmares using group dreamwork, sandplay and other techniques of intervention. Group Journal of Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society, 22 (4), 205-227. 

Nappi, C.M, Drummond, S.P, & Hall, J.M. (2012). Treating nightmares and insomnia in posttraumatic stress disorder: A review of current evidence, Neuropharmacology, 62(2), 576-585. ISSN 0028-3908, 

Freese, F., Wiese, M., Knaust, T., Schredl, M., Schulz, H., De Dassel, T., Gorzka, R.-J, Höllmer, H., & Wittmann, L. (2018). Comparison of dominant nightmare types in patients with different mental disorders, International Journal of Dream Research, 11(1), 1-5. 

Woodward, E., Hackmann, A., Wild, J., Grey, N., Clark, D.M., & Ehlers, A. (2017). Effects of psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder on sleep disturbances: results from a randomized clinical trial, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 97,75-85. DOI: