Monday, 12 November 2012

Use of Dreams in Therapy

Sigmund Freud wrote that “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.” He believed that analyzing dreams could derive an interpretation, and thus discover a dream’s meaning. The meaning could then be used to provide a “glimpse” into the inner workings of our mind, and most importantly be used as material in psychotherapy. Since Freud wrote his ground breaking book in 1899 titled “The Interpretation of Dreams”, other authors have followed in his literary footsteps and offered their own interpretations of our dreams. Today’s bookstore shelves offer an array of options for discovering the secret meaning behind our dreams but do they really have meaning, and is it helpful to speak about them in therapy?

Types of dreams

There are many types of dreams, such as the following:

Night terrors: a dream where the dreamer screams, experiences great fear, and flails while they are asleep. Typically this type of dream is more common in children.
Night mares: a disturbing dream that is comprised of negative emotions, such as fear or anxiety. This type of dream is more common in children but teens and adults also experience them.
Lucid dreams: a dream where the dreamer knows they are dreaming and they are able to control the experiences within the dream. Some believe you can learn how to experience these types of dreams by learning specific dream induction techniques.
Normal dreams: a dream where the dreamer is not aware they are dreaming and where the experience of the reality of the dream does not provoke fear or anxiety.

Depending upon the type of modality your therapist practices and the established treatment goals your therapist may ask you about your dreams. Interpreting dreams can provide a different perspective upon our life’s problems and subconscious struggles. Dreaming is a natural part of human existence and takes place while we enter into a different type of consciousness. Taking the time to examine your dreams in therapy can help you tap into unexpressed emotions and shed light on issues that you may have been putting off looking at consciously.

How to use your dreams in therapy

Decide if it needs to be interpreted:
Not all dreams will need to be interpreted; some dreams are too literal and therefore probably do not have much insightful value to them, e.g. remembering where you left the report at work.
Keep a dream journal: You need to remember your dreams in order for them to be interpreted. Keeping a dream journal or a pad of paper next to your bed is a useful way to remember your dreams. Upon waking from your sleep grab your pen and write down what you remember. Trying to remember your dream after a long day is going to be more difficult and you will probably forget parts of your dream that may be important in revealing its meaning.
Examine the dream when you are ready: Dream interpretation is not an exact science and there is no one specific meaning for a particular type of dream. Taking your dream journal to therapy and discussing your dreams with your therapist can help to provide the objective view that may be needed to bring the meaning to light, assuming there is one. The content of the dream can then be used as a spring board for your therapy session.

Looking at our dreams can provide important clues to the inner workings of our minds and important material for your therapy sessions. Remember that not all therapists will ask you about your dreams so you may want to ask them if speaking about your dreams in therapy may be helpful. Together with the assistance of your therapist you can look for the meaning of your dreams and use the insights drawn from them in your sessions.

More on Dreams:


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