What are Trauma and PTSD?
Before we discuss what the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet is all about, let’s briefly talk about trauma and PTSD.
When we talk about trauma, we're talking about psychological trauma. This kind manifests as intense, severe emotional and psychological scars that people experience after going through something that can be characterized as horrifying, overwhelming, or both.
Examples of such experiences include being sexually assaulted, losing your home to a natural disaster or fire, running over a person and killing them by accident, witnessing a murder or someone dying, being trapped in a cave for too long, and participating in a pointless war.
The impressions these events can leave on a person can make it difficult for the traumatized to cope, work through what they experienced, and move on. The scars they’ve sustained from these events can be triggered by their memories of what happened, their senses, seeing people involved, or being close to where the traumatic event occurred.
They will likely develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD for short), too. It’s a disorder characterized by multiple symptoms, including the following:
- Avoiding places, certain people, or things
- Actively deciding not to participate in certain activities
- Isolating oneself from others and the world
- Personality changes (e.g., becoming irritable, aggressive, hateful, etc.)
- Becoming prone to emotional outbursts
- They will have difficulty sleeping
- If they do get to sleep, they are prone to having nightmares
They will also feel various emotions, such as spite, hatred, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, and more.
How to use the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet
As mentioned earlier, people with PTSD are prone to having nightmares. These nightmares will likely be about the traumatic experience or something else that shares related themes or similar scenarios as the one that traumatized them. These nightmares can negatively impact a person’s sleep cycle. They become more prone to anxiety attacks and distress if they don't get enough restful sleep.
People with PTSD who tend to have nightmares usually don’t attempt to think about them since doing so will cause them to feel distressed more than they already are. However, examining one's nightmares and facing them is necessary when trying to work through trauma. It’s easier said than done, but it must be done if they want to live without being bogged down by their trauma and related nightmares.
The Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet gives a person with PTSD a chance to examine a nightmare they remember vividly. This worksheet aims to help them internalize that these nightmares are just dreams and to help rewire how they can think about their nightmares, bend them to what they want to dream about, and hopefully empower the person and help them get restful sleep.
For this worksheet, they just need to do the following:
Discuss facts about the nightmare.
The worksheet is divided into three parts. The first part will ask them to identify the nightmare and have them answer the following questions and prompts as descriptively as they can:
- Who are the characters in your nightmare?
- What is the setting?
- Describe what each character is doing.
- Are there any important objects? If so, what are they, and why are they important?
- Would you consider these objects as symbols? If so, what do they symbolize?
- What time is it? What’s the weather like?
Talk about yourself in the context of the nightmare.
After describing the nightmare and its characteristics, the next thing that a person needs to do is to talk about themselves concerning their nightmare. Here are the questions they need to answer:
- In your nightmare, what is your role? Are you an active participant or an observer?
- What are you doing in this nightmare? Or what do you think you’re supposed to be doing in this nightmare?
- What emotions do you feel in this nightmare?
- What do you think about as you go about your business in the nightmare?
- What bodily sensations do you feel?
- How did the nightmare end? Do you wake up at a certain point, and if this is a recurring nightmare, do you often wake up at said point?
- What sensations do you have immediately after waking up?
Turn your nightmare into a good dream.
Next, the worksheet tells the person to wear the director’s hat and make the alterations they want to their nightmare to turn it into a good dream. They just need to answer the following prompts:
- Change the nightmare’s plot into something more pleasant to you.
- Change the characters or change what they’re doing and what happens to them.
- Change the objects and what they symbolize.
- Change the colors and the music.
- Change the feelings you have in the dream.
- Change the ending of the dream. Make changes that can help you find closure to the nightmare.
Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet Example
The Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet was adapted from the original version by Tijana Mandić for The PTSD Workbook. The original version is much longer and has more questions for specific segments.
For our version, we divided the worksheet into three clear sections, extended some questions and prompts, omitted a few questions, and added some of our own.
The original asked for keywords related to the nightmares of the person answering it, but we omitted that part so they could jump straight into the writing exercises.
Each item for each section comes with a comment box with enough space for patients to write their answers. It can be answered physically with a pen or digitally using a keyboard or touchpad.
If you like what you see and believe this PTSD worksheet will help you understand your patient’s nightmares and how they grapple with them, download our free Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet PDF template!
When is it Best to use the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet?
The best time to use the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet depends on who you are.
If you’re a psychotherapist or a similar mental healthcare professional…
If you practice psychotherapy and/or similar practices, the best time to use the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet is during the early to middle stage of your therapy or counseling program. These would be the stages when you’re still learning about your patients, like what caused their trauma, how they cope with it, what triggers their PTSD, how their PTSD has negatively impacted their overall quality of life, and what they dream about.
It’s also ideal that you introduce certain concepts, like Cognitive Restructuring, a technique that can help them rewire and reframe their thoughts. This particular concept will serve the patient well while engaging with this worksheet.
Ensure you provide assurance, support, and guidance as they write their answers.
If you’re a non-mental health professional…
If you’re not a mental healthcare professional and stumbled on this guide, we’d like you to know that you can use our Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet for yourself! The template is free so anyone can download and use it anytime!
If you’ve acknowledged that your trauma-related nightmares have been affecting your sleep patterns, and you’ve decided to face your nightmares, we hope this worksheet helps you navigate yourself around them and reconfigure how you think to the point that you’re able to ward off nightmares and dream of more pleasant things.
What are the Benefits of Using the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet?
It can help mental healthcare professionals learn more about their patients’ nightmares.
The worksheet is a nifty tool that can help a mental healthcare professional learn about the specific nightmares that bother their patient the most in terms of what they’re about, how their patients view themselves when they’re in the nightmare, how they grapple with the elements of their nightmares, and what they feel when they wake up from it.
Knowing these will help professionals determine what goes into the rest of their program moving forward, like what lifestyle changes to suggest and what concepts to teach them to help them work through their nightmares.
It can serve as a monitoring tool down the line.
The Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet works well as a monitoring tool.
Let’s stipulate that you’ve taught your patient skills like problem-solving, emotional regulation, cognitive restructuring, and more. It’s only natural to want to know if they understand what you’ve taught them.
One way of checking on that is to reissue this worksheet and see how they can apply what you’ve taught them regarding rewiring their thoughts to alter their nightmares to something better and/or comforting.
If your patient can apply what you’ve taught them well enough that it shows in the (dream) logic of their writing and if they have a more positive disposition compared to before, you can safely assume they can deal with their nightmares healthily, which means you can move on to addressing other PTSD symptoms.
It’s an inexpensive tool, not to mention easy to use.
The Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet is a helpful and inexpensive resource. If you prefer having physical copies of the worksheet and having them ready to be answered by potential PTSD patients, you’ll only spend for printing, which shouldn’t cost much.
If you go paperless and send copies of the PDF to your PTSD patients instead, you won’t spend anything at all.
The worksheet also doesn’t require anything special to be used. People who engage with it only need to answer the prompts and guide questions descriptively.
How Can Carepatron Help With PTSD-Related Work?
We hope this guide was an excellent introduction to the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet. If you download and use our template, we hope that it helps you assess the effects of your nightmares on your patients with PTSD, and we hope it helps them find the strength to work through them so they can sleep well.
While we still have you, we’d like to request your time to check more of the Carepatron platform if you haven’t. We have enough features to convince you to subscribe and consider us your number-one therapy practice management software and go-to app for PTSD-related work.
We won’t list our features here, but we’d like to discuss one related to the Normalizing Your Nightmares PTSD Worksheet: our resource library.
Our resource library houses a massive collection of clinical resources that covers numerous healthcare fields, practices, and topics, especially mental health and, by extension, trauma and PTSD.
You will find valuable resources such as depression scales, anxiety inventories, symptom checklists, and more that can measure the severity of your patients' potential mental health problems.
We also have an abundance of worksheets, and we have several that focus on PTSD! We have worksheets that focus on unpacking certain emotions associated with PTSD, like disappointment, shame, guilt, spite, and more. We also have some that focus on helping patients reclaim their lives and some that focus on warding off intrusive thoughts.
What’s great about all these resources is that they’re free! So, download as much as you want and need!