Dream Work

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Dream Work In Psychotherapy and Jungian Analysis

"The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness may extend. All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood."  ( C. G. Jung, Collected Works, volume 10, para. 304-305)


In this section, I will discuss my use of dream work in my practice of psychotherapy and Jungian analysis. I will provide you with an overview of the ways in which dreams can assist us in a therapeutic process. Jungian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz writes, "Our dream life creates a meandering pattern in which individual strands or tendencies become visible, then vanish, then return again. If one watches this meandering design over a long period of time, one can observe a sort of hidden regulating or directing tendency at work, creating a slow, imperceptible process of psychic growth - the process of individuation. Gradually a wider and more mature personality emerges." (Marie-Louise von Franz, "The Process of Individuation," Man and His Symbols," 1964)


It is through the understanding of dreams that we are able to explore the nature of the unconscious, that part of experience that runs below our awareness, a subliminal aspect, and reaches consciousness only indirectly.  The task of working with dreams is to bring that which is unconscious into consciousness, and then to explore the meaning and message of the dream as it is expressed through symbolic imagery, instinctive reactions, sensations, and emotions. 


As explore your dreams in-depth, we will begin to hear themes that may alert us about certain psychological dynamics, developmental patterns, and information about your relations with others. We may also find your unconscious is bringing forth messages that are opposite to or different than your conscious attitude. For example, dreams have a compensatory and complementary function—they can offer a new attitude by bringing forth an opposite perspective to a one-sided conscious viewpoint, and can bring into consciousness something that is missing in a person’s conscious awareness, a widening of a person’s conscious attitude. 


Erel Shalit and Nancy Furlotti write on the uniting power of the symbol, “The psyche offers up symbols as a way to help us reconcile these opposites within ourselves, ultimately leading us to develop a working relationship with the greater Self, the archetype of wholeness and meaning. The Self both guides the process and is its goal. Through its guidance, the Self offers us symbols and images in our dreams to direct our way.” (The Dream and Its Amplification, 2013, p. 7-8)


We will work together in understanding the meaning of your dreams so that we can process and integrate that which is most essential for your psycho-spiritual development. 


I also want to mention that dreams can assist us during times that you find your conscious life is off balance and far removed from healthy instincts, nature and truth. Dreams try to re-establish equilibrium by restoring the images and emotions that are part of the deeper stratas of psyche. They bring to light the dreamer’s relations to the spiritual dimension, the Self, and to archetypal dimensions of the psyche that are inherited and innate. 


And, there are dreams that are considered “big” or “great” dreams. They were believed by indigenous cultures and ancient peoples to foretell the future and were considered oracles. They are experienced as an illumination and are archetypal. These “big dreams” may also be considered “prospective” dreams. Such dreams may emerge at transitional periods in your life when your are especially open to collective, archetypal energies that may be important personally or culturally. Jung writes, “Then comes a dream from which you can infer something that points the way ahead. These are the situations in which religious dreams occur, of far-reaching significance—what the primitives call ‘big’ dreams.”  (C.G. Jung Speaking, 1977, p. 458) 


I will end this overview with a quote from Jung. He writes, “The dream itself is a natural and necessary expression of the life force—one that manifests in sleeping consciousness and is sometimes remembered and recounted across the threshold of waking. Like a flower or a hurricane or a human gesture, its basic purpose is the manifestation and expression of this life force. It gives us images of energy, synthesizing past and present, personal and collective experiences.” (Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 161-162) It is through the understanding of dreams that we are able to connect with the life force that is the source of all psychic energy, creativity and Self realization. The task is to release the natural energy of the dream, the life force that is the motive power of the process Jung calls individuation. 


Picture: "Doors," Chaco Canyon, New Mexico