A new method of dream analysis congruent with contemporary counseling approaches
Dream analysis appears to deepen and accelerate the psychotherapeutic process, but it is not widely employed in modern practice. This may be due, in part, to the belief that the value of a dream lies in the analysis of its visual content, and that reflective awareness, volition, and personal responsibility––qualities valued highly by non-psychodynamic therapies––are presumed to be lacking in most dreams. While modern research has largely overturned this view, it may still impede the adoption of dream analysis by modern psychotherapists. Add to that a psychotherapist’s lack of training and concomitant discomfort with his or her own dreams and it is no surprise that dream work utilization remains low. Drawing on an array of theoretical, clinical, and empirical sources, this paper presents a view of normal dreaming as an interactive process between the dreamer and the dream imagery, and views the dream outcome as a co-determined or co-created experience. By shifting the focus in dream analysis away from content to interactive process, a counselor view the dream in such a way as to support the goals of contemporary therapy. By adopting this paradigm, he or she can assist clients in discerning the dream ego’s responses to the dream content, and evaluate how these responses influence the overall experience and, by implication, parallel waking relationships. Such an approach is congruent with the client-centered, competency-based aims of many schools of modern therapy, and thus may result in a more widespread adoption of dream analysis by psychotherapists. The author presents a case example of employing an approach to dream analysis consistent that is congruent with the goals of many of the schools of modern psychotherapy.