Dreams in Counselling & Psychotherapy
Bees multiply and swarm in the bedroom of a remote chateau. A man’s legs fall from beneath him on the way to the bathroom. A female assassin targets friendly passers-by. Military men force a woman under water in a V-shaped canal.
These are all scenes from dreams that became enormously important to the clients who brought them into therapy. Understanding these images marked turning points in their self-awareness, and became foundational to their therapeutic process.
Had my clients not shared their dreams with me, it may have taken months to discover what was available to them right now. Instead, over the coming months, they repeatedly returned to and built on their insights, finding validation, courage and direction in their own dream material.
Dreams as Your “Inner Therapist”
Dreams are like having an ‘inner therapist’, reflecting a deeper awareness back to you every night. Your dreams connect today’s emotions with past experiences that made you feel a similar way – precisely the therapeutic technique used by counsellors and psychologists. So why do we ignore our dreams, yet seek out therapy?
Only because we have forgotten how to understand our dreams.
Your dreams communicate in a language of emotionally charged images. They express the complex truth of your emotional state of being, a truth that is intertwined with past experiences and forgotten memories. Interpreting the meaning of your dreams can reveal the inner workings of your true self.
The rational thinking of our waking hours buries your more difficult emotions, creating a reservoir of unexpressed feelings that must find other ways of expressing themselves. Anxiety, anger, depression and emotional numbness can all be traced back to repressed emotions.
Emotional honesty is so important to the health of humans that we have evolved to dream four to six times every night. Our dreams are the only place where we can express our feelings as they really are, without the judgment of others, or harshest of all, the judgment of our own inner-critic.
Dreams are therefore your most honest inner landscape, the visual arena where you process the emotional impressions of your day, and weave them into the story of your life. Dreams integrate the emotional imprint of new experiences into your long-term memory, by connecting them with past experiences that made you feel the same way. Your dream self has a perfect memory of every experience you have ever had; your waking self comprehends only the tip of the iceberg.
Benefits of Dream Analysis
Used professionally, analysing dreams offers a direct path to the unconscious emotions, beliefs and memories that are impacting your daily life. One dream understood can circumvent weeks or months of counselling by carrying us straight to the heart of things; somewhere difficult to arrive through talk therapy alone. Dream therapy also has the advantage of perfect timing. The content of last night’s dream is perfectly relevant to this moment in your life. So working on that dream as soon as possible provides the greatest chance of meaningful insight.
Dreams are for me an unparalleled therapeutic tool. Often after seeing a client for months, a single dream comes that changes the course of our therapy. Even more common is the person who doesn’t remember their dreams, but who within days of our meeting has a dream that feels important. This is easily explained: your dream self knows you are listening.
Dream therapy has helped clients understand their anxiety, uncoil restlessness and treat emotional numbness and meaningless. Clients discover not only where they may be stuck, but also come face to face with opportunities they had previously failed to see for meaningful change. It’s important to note, therefore, that once a dream is understood, there remains work to be done. Namely, the pivotal work of integrating unconscious material into your waking life. Without this action phase, dream work remains largely a curiosity.
Ultimately, dreams can be a great catalyst for growth in your life. They hold your most authentic truth, and reveal it to you every night in an attempt to make it conscious. Therapeutically, your greatest opportunity for healing and growth lies in coming into relationship with this truth, and making new decisions with self-awareness that cannot help but transform you.
Carl Jung & Dream Analysis
Carl Jung, a psychiatrist and disciple of Sigmund Frued, changed the course of psychotherapy through his focus on the unconscious mind, and therefore on dream work. Clients brought their dreams to Jung every week, and for over 60 years he worked on his his own dreams and took the art of dream work to new depths for modern man. After interpreting many hundreds of thousands of the dreams over the course of his life, he said the only thing he regretted was not spending more time studying dreams.
Not every dream reveals itself. And some dreams are so epic they can take years to unfurl. However, for the most part, dreams are accessible and highly therapeutic to understand. They are so much part of our nature that even after hundreds of years of being forgotten, their language can be easy remembered, and they welcome us back by becoming more vivid and increasingly easier to recall.
Dream Workshops & Private Dream Work
To help bring back the forgotten language of dreams, I established Dream Lab in 2010 to make a transformative dream education accessible to anyone on weekends throughout the year. We use a Jungian Analysis method to interpret your dreams.
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