Viewing the dream as process: A key to effective dreamwork

  • Gregory Scott Sparrow (Author)
    University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Atlantic University

    Associate Professor

    Dept. of Educational Psychology

  • Mark Thurston (Author)
    George Mason University

Identifiers (Article)


The Co-creative dream paradigm posits that dreams are indeterminate from the outset and unfold in real time according to the dream ego’s moment-to-moment responses to the emergent content. This interactive dynamic can illuminate process parallels between the dream and waking relationships, even if content parallels cannot be easily discerned. If generic process can be unambiguously observed in the dream report, and maps onto waking relational process, then one might argue that the best initial approach to dream analysis should be to analyze the dream process as a prelude to further analysis, especially in cases where the visual content may seem unrelated to, or discontinuous with waking life concerns.We contend that the analysis of generic process establishes a context or framework that focuses, and meaningfully constrains the range of dreamer associations in subsequent steps of the dreamwork, and may reap considerable insights apart from those derived from a consideration of the dream imagery alone. As for research implications, we propose that the continuity hypothesis can be tested in a novel way by analyzing dreaming-waking process parallels rather than content parallels. We also suggest that the process narrative may represent an underlying “conceptual” (Lakoff and Johnson, 1986) or “major” metaphor (Ullman, 1969) that functions as a continuous plot (Hartman, 1999) onto which the visual imagery is mapped.


dream analysis, dream themes, process narrative, co-creative dream theory, FiveStar method
How to Cite
Sparrow, G. S., & Mark Thurston. (2022). Viewing the dream as process: A key to effective dreamwork . International Journal of Dream Research, 15(1), 64–72.