I think everyone is familiar with Sigmund Freud and his use of dreams to psychoanalyze people. Most therapists today no longer use this tool; however dream therapy is still useful. The clients I work with often love to use their dreams as therapy because it is such a personal approach.
There are two important things to remember when using your dreams as therapy. The first is that you are represented in everyone, every place, and everything, and everyone, every place, and everything reflects a facet of you. We can be tempted to make our dreams mean something. For example, if I dream about my dead uncle Joe, I could be tempted to think that he’s trying to get in touch with me. While this could be true, it’s more likely that he represents something about you that your inner self wants you to pay attention to. If he was jolly, it could be about remembering your joy. If he was miserly, it could be showing you how that is impacting you. Don’t take things too literally or look too far into the fanciful for meaning.
The second most important aspect of dream therapy is understanding that it’s all about you. That’s another reason why people like it. It gives them permission to be completely self-indulgent. Dreaming about your ex-husband, your crazy aunt, or a murderous stranger isn’t about them. They are all aspects of you. Maybe you don’t see yourself as crazy or murderous, but that may not be the important piece. It could be that your dream is about reminding you of your crazy aunt’s way of finding peace through nature that you share, but have forgotten. The murderous stranger could be a way of reminding you to express your anger. If you dream your boss is trying to kill you, it is more likely to mean that your work is unfulfilling than your boss is actually trying to kill you.
So dreams can create insight, but what else are they good for? Here is a list:
- problem solving! If you can get creative, you may find that your dreams help you get unstuck.
- feeling your feelings. Sometimes the world is a scary place. You feel repressed and unsafe so you don’t express. Your dreams can be a way for your soul to feel in a safe way.
- building resources. Your dream self can be much more resourceful than your waking self. It’s good to see how clever you can be in your dreams and then follow suit.
- grant wishes. When people say, “May all your dreams come true” it is often because we dream such magical things. If life is not all you’d like it to be, your dreams help you to imagine possibilities and give expression to a life not yet lived.
- understand yourself. We don’t see ourselves the way others see us. We don’t see ourselves as we are. When we see aspects of ourselves through our dreams, we can get a better idea of what is truly inside. It’s always far more hopeful and glorious than our vision.
- see past our programming. We can all get bogged down in our programming. We might think we are limited by X, Y, and Z. Our dreams give us symbols in such a way that we can begin to see past the programming and instantaneously make different choices. It’s really amazing.
- idea completion. We’ve all gotten the advice to “sleep on it.” Why? Because most people have had the experience of things becoming clearer after sleeping. Dreams can help thoughts to complete so that our feelings about things and our ideas are clearer and not so hard to grasp.
- enhance creativity. The mind dreams up combinations that most of us would not come up with in the waking state. We’re just too linear and logical in the here and now. The mind has no such restrictions and puts together really wild things. This can enhance creativity and get you out of the box.
If you don’t really like the idea of therapy, but love the idea of self-exploration, dream therapy could be for you. If you have a fascinating dream life, this could be a way for you to get in touch with your inner world to expand your outer world. If you are ready to check it out, contact Laura Giles. Fortunately, dream therapy is one type of therapy that can be done from anywhere so you don’t even have to live in Richmond, Virginia.