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What Is Dream Work Therapy?

Each night when you go to sleep, your mind enters a stage of sleep in which seemingly random images, emotions, and ideas of your unconscious mind weave together to create what we call dreams. Since the early 1900s when Sigmund Freud explored dreams and their meanings in The Interpretation of Dreams, therapists have used the symbolism and imagery of our dreams to help us unlock our hidden desires, fears and memories in order to better understand ourselves. Dream work therapy, unlike traditional Freudian dream interpretation, is an open-ended approach to looking at our dreams and discovering the implications of the emotions and images that a dream evokes, rather than trying to pin down a concrete meaning for the dream as a whole.

In Dream Work Therapy, an individual, with the aid of a therapist or in a group setting, will recount his or her dream as fully as possible. The therapist or group members, sometimes referred to as “dreamworkers,” will then ask a series of questions to the individual who had the dream, remaining as neutral and unbiased as possible to experience the dream and its contents as a sort of blank slate. Once the person who had the dream answers all the questions asked by the dreamworkers, they will offer their unique interpretation of the symbols and images in the dream to see if any of their ideas strike a chord with the dreamer. Often, the dreamworkers preface their comments and interpretations with a qualifier such as, “If it were my dream, it might mean…” This tactic allows the dreamworkers to help the dreamer explore the contents of the dream without obligating him or her to necessarily agree with their interpretation. Dream work therapy does not always yield instantaneous results for the dreamer; in fact, it is often days after a dream work therapy session that the dreamer is able to connect the images of his or her dream with any real-world meaning or interpretation that makes sense to him or her, but the dream work therapy process is an important part of helping the dreamer to arrive at the answer.

Unlike classical dream interpretation, dream work therapy doesn’t stop as soon as a meaning or interpretation for images or events in a dream have been assigned context. Dreamworkers feel that a single dream can have several to many different meanings, and that each person has his or her own “dream language” that can cause meanings and images found in dreams to differ from one person to another, and can even mean different things to the same individual at different phases of his or her life. The goal of dream work therapy is to help unlock the repressed or hidden desires or anxieties represented in the dream to help the person overcome the corresponding real-world challenges or obstacles he or she is facing in order to live a happier, more fulfilling life and truly understand themselves on a deeper level.

If you are interested in exploring your unconscious mind with dream work therapy, contact East-West Therapy Hawaii today. Our professional and caring staff of therapists led by Dr. Conti can help you uncover the deeper meanings at the core of your dreams and give insight into your greatest challenges, fears and life yearnings so that you can use that information to live your best life. Call us today to schedule a dream work therapy consultation.