What is it like to be midwife to a dream? Irish therapist’s experience of working with dreams in contemporary psychotherapy
Though dreams have fascinated human beings for millennia, the landscape of dreams is broad and fragmented with dozens of theories, approaches and methods of working with dreams now in existence. Much of the literature focusses on therapist estimates of dream prevalence in therapy, factors which influence therapists working with dream material, what therapists do when material is presented and therapist competence, attitudes and sense of outcomes when working with dreams therapeutically. Little however exists in the literature as to the lived experience of therapists who help clients work with their dreams. Purposive sampling was used to recruit six therapists who work with dreams in their professional practise. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the data to identify superordinate and subordinate themes. Three superordinate themes and seven subordinate themes emerged from the process of analysis. Superordinate themes were; the role of dreams in the personal lives of therapists; the experience of working with a client’s dream; and, concerns for the diminishing significance of dreams in clinical practice. Participants described both the experience and meaning they attribute to dreams in their personal and professional lives and these are discussed in the context of the prevailing dream work literature. Implications for future research, training and practise are presented including the possibility of a universal approach to dream work, de-emphasising the need for aha-moments as sole measures of dream work success and the suggestion of building a community of practice focussed on addressing the social, personal and professional needs of therapists who work with dreams.