Dreaming

Types of dreams

Types of Dreams Every dream is as unique as the dreamer, but there are specific types of dreamsthat most commonly find their way into my consulting room. These are daydreams, vivid dreams, recurring dreams, lucid dreams, nightmares and night terrors. This month, I...

Dream Journaling

How To Remember Your Dreams I often work with people who dream frequently and are interested in their dreams. Many suffer from nightmares and night terrors which they remember vividly.  I will be exploring these in a later post. But a lot of people don’t remember...

Time for a Mindset Spring Clean

March is a hopeful month. Officially the first month of spring with emerging colour, bulbs bravely shooting through the ground and trees starting to sprout buds. A couple of years ago in the UK we had a mini heatwave in March. With the unpredictability of the climate,...

Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying When researching this subject, I was shocked to see the number of people who had taken their lives due to cyber bullying and sextortion. Between March 2019 and March 2020 19% or one in five children between the age of 10 and 15 in England and Wales...

Male Influencers

The MeToo movement has been wonderful for women’s rights and furthering awareness of sexual harassment and abuse. I know very few women who haven’t experienced sexual harassment at some point in their life and there is now an ability for women to have a voice, be...

What’s Your Online Persona?

Who Do You Think You Are? How Do You Want To Come Across Online? We all know someone who exaggerates their life online – we see the ‘official’ glitzy positive image they put on social media. For example, posts of holiday snaps look amazing but, when we meet to hear...

Striking the Balance – Parenting Children on Social Media

Children and social media: It can be a thorny issue for many parents. There is a common conflict. On the one hand, if you let your child engage in social media they can feel part of their friendship group and won’t feel left out or left behind, whilst on the other...

Social Media Anxiety and How To Manage It

Social media can be a fantastic way of keeping in touch with people and a source of inspiration, support, and connection to wider conversations online. It can also link us to people we would otherwise not have access to, for example, brides and grooms who’ve invited...

Social Media Anxiety

This is the first in a series I’m writing about social media. Over recent years, and especially since the pandemic social media has become more prevalent in our lives. Benefits of Social Media There are fantastic sides to social media like the ability to keep in touch...

Photography by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

Psychotherapy and Dreams

During an initial consultation with a potential client, I often ask about their dreams. Do they dream regularly? Do they have significant dreams from childhood? Do they have recurring dreams? This is because as a psychodynamic therapist I work with the unconscious. We believe that some difficult events have been pushed deep into our unconscious so we don’t remember them and therefore don’t need to think about, or be troubled by them. Usually, these things are hidden in our psyche, sometimes forever. But if something happens to remind us of an event, then it may bubble up from our unconscious into our consciousness. Dreams are a classic way this can happen, making the unconscious more conscious through no conscious choice of our own.

A Little History of Working Therapeutically With Dreams

Historically, dreams have held great interest: religious texts often have dreamers (usually prophets) who are able to see the future, for example the character, Joseph who interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams predicting future famines. Even today – as in the past – the theory holds that dreams can be prophetic i.e. they are messages from God or a higher power about the future. Some people even believe that dreams can be clues to past lives that we may have lived. In 1900, the Psychoanalyst, Freud, called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious” in his famous work The Interpretation of Dreams. His main theory was that a dream represented a ‘wish fulfilled’: something we unconsciously or consciously want to happen. Some everyday examples in a modern context: we dream of being on a desert island snorkelling with dolphins may indicate we’re working too hard and need to reflect on our current work life balance. Or if we dream of living in a flat shared with fun loving friends we hang out with after work, maybe it’s time to start saving up and move out from living with our parents. A colleague of Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, took Freud’s work further. He too saw great value in dreams but the way he worked with them was more complex. He asked the dreamer for their associations with the dream content and then explored these personal, cultural or universal associations with the dreamer. As a psychodynamic therapist, this is my preferred method of working with dreams. I often work with people who suffer from nightmares and night terrors. These can be very disturbing whatever age they happen, and it can take time to understand what significance and meaning they may have on the dreamer.

When Do Dreams Happen?

Scientific research into dreaming suggests various functions: they can process emotions; they can process events from the day (both the trivial as well as significant) we didn’t have time or capacity to resolve, and they can erase memories for us. Scientifically, dreams can happen at any point whilst we sleep but the most significant ones generally happen during our REM sleep which happens at a later stage of our sleep cycle.

The Mystery of Dreams

But there is so much still unknown about dreams. I think that is why so many of us find them fascinating. Whilst the neuroscientists continue their important work discovering more about dreams, I believe that as in psychotherapy, generally the dreamer is the most important person to make sense of the dream. Join me next month as we delve into the subject a little more and in particular, look at ways of recording your dreams.

My next post will be on dream journaling…