Nightmare Frequency, Nightmare Distress and the Efficiency of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


1 Department of Psychology, University of Quebec a Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2 Department of Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Laval, Quebec, Canada

3 Department of Sexology, University of Quebec a Montreal, Quebec, Canada

4 School of Criminology, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada



Up to 71% of trauma victims diagnosed with PTSD have frequent nightmares (NM), compared to only 2% to 5% of the general population.

The present study examined whether nightmares before the beginning of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could influence overall PTSD symptom reduction for 71 individuals with PTSD and different types of traumatic events.

Patients and Methods
Participants received a validated CBT of 20 weekly individual sessions. They were evaluated at five measurement times: at pre-treatment, after the third and ninth session, at post-treatment, and at 6 months follow-up.

The presence of nightmares did not impact overall CBT efficiency. Specific CBT components were efficient in reducing the frequency and distress of nightmares.

Most participants no longer had PTSD but some still had nightmares.