Treating post-trauma nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder in an individual with psychosis

  • Merdijana Kovacevic (Author)
    Psychology Intern and University of Tulsa Doctoral Candidate
  • Joanne Davis (Author)
    University of Tulsa

    Joanne Davis is a Professor of Psychology as well as the director of the Trauma Research: Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment Center and co-director of The University of Tulsa Institute of Trauma, Adversity, and Injustice. Dr. Davis developed Exposure, Relaxation, and Rescripting Therapy (ERRT) for trauma-related nightmares. Her research continues to focus on nightmares and sleep problems in trauma-exposed individuals, and she has multiple grants examining effectiveness of consecutive and combined treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder and trauma-related nightmares.

Identifiers (Article)


Post-trauma nightmares often persist, even following intervention for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Davis, DeArellano, Falsetti, & Resnick, 2003;Scurfield, Kenderdine, & Pollard, 1990).  Research finds that directly targeting post-trauma nightmares is effective in reducing their frequency and severity, as well as improving related symptoms (Augedal, Hansen, Kronhaug, Harvey, & Pallesen, 2013; Casement & Swanson, 2012; Ho, Chan, & Tang, 2016; Krippner & Taitz, 2017; Rousseau & Belleville, 2018).  Most efforts exploring the efficacy of interventions for post-trauma nightmares have not been evaluated in individuals with psychosis.  However, recent research suggests that individuals with psychosis experience frequent nightmares and comorbidity with traumatic stress disorders (Sheaves, Onwumere, Keen, Stahl, & Kuipers, 2015).  The current study evaluated the efficacy of a combination of two treatments, Exposure, Relaxation, and Rescripting Therapy (Davis, 2009) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (Resick, Monson, & Chard, 2017), for an individual with visual and tactile hallucinations, nightmares, and PTSD. Results indicated that the participant tolerated all treatment aspects, including written exposure to the content of the post-trauma nightmares.  Further, the combined treatment resulted in improvement in trauma-related nightmare frequency and severity, PTSD symptoms, negative posttraumatic cognitions, depressive symptoms, and sleep quality and quantity.  Findings suggested that individuals with frequent nightmares, PTSD, and psychosis may benefit from direct treatments targeting these conditions.


Southern state in the United States of America
Contributor or sponsoring agency
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology; The University of Tulsa Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
posttraumtic stress disorder; sleep disturbances; psychosis; trauma; dreams
How to Cite
Kovacevic, M., & Davis, J. (2020). Treating post-trauma nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder in an individual with psychosis. International Journal of Dream Research, 13(1), 40-45.