Dream analysis is an ancient practice that Shaman, healers, sages, and therapists have used to help their patients. Visions and waking dreams are part of many cultures for foretelling the future, healing a disturbed or sick person, searching for animals for food, or preventing or strategizing wars. Pagan and tribal cultures and now New Age practices meshed the boundaries between waking and dream consciousness believing that dreams were in every way as relevant as the waking state. They also believed (believe) in the sacredness of dream communications and that deities and higher powers communicate through dreams to guide the dreamer. Some people believe that dreams themselves are prophetic at times and can foretell coming events. Whether you believe that dreams have a spiritual component or not dreams can be a helpful tool in understanding your inner workings, your waking life, and help you make changes in your life.
Jung believed that our dreams were a direct communication from our unconscious. He also believed that our unacknowledged shadow or dark side was represented in dreams and he suggested that we “befriend” our dreams and let them inform us. Images in the dreams can represent parts of our self that are largely not given a voice in our waking life. Freud believed that dreams were a direct representation of our waking life issues and concerns and they primarily problem solve our struggles and fears.
Adlerian dream work comes from a psychoanalytic/constructivist approach and the focus is on dreams having a purpose in our life, mainly to inform us and heal our psychological self. Dreams can also emerge as childhood conflicts for example when authority figures appear or we dream about the family home or family members. Sometimes images can represent existential-spiritual issues and relate to the person’s relationship with a higher power. Dreams that have images and experiences that elicit questions of values, connection with others, freedom or death and life relate to spiritual-existential themes.
James Hillman, a devotee of Jung’s analytical psychology, believes that dreams are owned by the psyche and the psyche confronts its death in dreams. As we grow and evolve our old beliefs, fears, and conflicts die in the psyche and we reinvent ourselves evolving into a new understanding, essentially a new psychological self. He is against interpretation of dreams because he wants us to live the experience of the dream and to let it inform us as it grows and evolves.
One of the ways to get the most out of dreams is to keep a dream diary. Most people do not remember all of their dreams however even small snippets of the dream can be informative. Over time patterns emerge and can tell us much about our waking life and inner self. Keeping a dream journal near our bed and priming ourselves to remember our dreams helps. When we wake from a dream we should try and stay in the atmosphere of the dream and write down our thoughts immediately. Here are some categories to frame and understand our dream with:
Main Features of the Dream
Action, Scene, and characters
Symbols in the dream
Personal and archetypal significance
Type of dream
My feelings in dream and at waking
Later thoughts or feelings
In dream work with a therapist the work is highly collaborative. In the model that I have been trained in; the Hill Cognitive-Experiential model, the emphasis is on eliciting the dreamer’s images, associations, and insight allowing a lasting understanding of their self and processes. I also use the Jungian model of dream analysis.
Therapy can be challenging for some people and tackling life issues through dream work is less onerous and more creative and enjoyable. The model has an action component that takes the insight gained and operationalizes them into practical and realistic goals. Dreams then become change oriented and help us solve life issues.
There are many dream books with definitions for the symbols that emerge however the dreamer is the best judge of the meaning of the dream images. These books offer suggestions but the dreamer is free to decide what they mean. Collaborative work with a therapist helps bring deeper meaning to the dream and can allow opportunities for insight and action in waking life.
If you want a dream work session to explore your dreams call Denise @ 604-562-9130