Most of us dream, even if we cannot recall what we dreamt about by the time we finish our coffee each day. Sometimes, these dreams can seem hilarious or absurd. Other times, our dreams can evoke heavy emotions like sadness, desperation, grief, frustration, or fear. While we know that what happens in our dreams can’t touch us in an awake state, Dreamwork Therapy uses our dreams as a way of beginning introspection and self-discovery.
What is Dreamwork Therapy?
Dreamwork Therapy leverages your dreams as a way of gaining insight into your mind. Dreamwork Therapy asks clients to make connections between their dreams and reality, to recognize symbolisms, and to reflect on previously unconscious thoughts or feelings. By talking about their dreams with a Dreamwork therapist, clients explore their minds and create self-care routines around their sleep.
Elements of Dreamwork Therapy began at the beginning of human life, thousands of years ago. Many ancient cultures placed great value on the contents of their dreams, encouraging reflection of dreams’ meaning upon awakening. Dreamwork Therapy became a popular therapeutic modality with Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and other early psychoanalysts.
What happens in a Dreamwork Therapy session?
In a Dreamwork Therapy session, a therapist will ask clients to speak about their dream, and together, the therapist and client will then interpret the dream and derive a meaning from the dream. Dreamwork Therapists teach clients different ways to elicit meaning from their dreams, including symbolism, the exploration of the unconscious mind, and the recognition of conflict.
Therapists may ask their clients any of the following questions:
- Was there anything surprising in your dream?
- How did you feel in the dream?
- What can you relate your dream to in reality?
- Who was in your dream? Why do you think they showed up in your dream?
- How did you feel when you woke up?
Therapists may encourage their clients to keep a dream journal or another way of recording their dreams upon waking up. The explicit attention given towards dreaming – plus the added behavioral change of starting a dream journal – is a great way for clients to practice self care, as they may begin to dedicate time exclusively for themselves.
At times, therapists may encourage their clients to consider their dreams as a creative outlet or source of inspiration. Other times, therapists will ask their clients to write down their bad dreams but to alter them so they have a less frightening ending. This is helpful if clients have recurring nightmares.
Dreamwork Therapy is an excellent way for clients to engage with introspection. However, it’s important to find a therapist who is trained in Dreamwork and who has experience helping clients sift through their dreams as a part of their mental health journeys.
What can Dreamwork Therapy help with?
Dreamwork Therapy is helpful for a wide range of mental hsealth conditions. Most clients who access Dreamwork Therapy use it as a way to come to an important decision or to solve a difficult problem. Others use it when they come across mental blocks, including writer’s block or artistic blocks.
Dreamwork Therapy is also helpful for clients who have nightmares as a result of mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, or OCD. However, anyone can benefit from Dreamwork Therapy with the right therapist.