Monday, April 11, 2011

Understanding Dreams

In the psychological world, dreams are a symbolic representation. They reflect our everyday lives in that they are expressing what has been consciously or unconsciously occupying our minds.

Psychologists often ask the people with whom they are working to bring dreams into session work. These dreams bring vital information to treatment and help highlight conflicts, wishes, traumas or fears. Analyzing a dream does not need to be done with a therapist who is highly skilled in dream analysis.

There are things that you can do to help you find the thread in the fabric of your own dreams.

First: Learn to remember your dreams. Most people can't remember their dreams, or believe that they don't dream at all. The fact is that every night we dream. So, tell yourself that you will remember your dream and invite that possibility before you go to bed each night.

Second: Keep paper and pen by your bed. When you wake up, see if you can jot down aspects of your dream. As you do this, you will get better and better at recording and remembering your dreams.

Third: Look at the themes in your dreams. Once you are awake see if you can find the theme in your dream. Is it a dream about fear? Is it a dream that illustrates a wish? A conflict? Sometimes there can be people you know in your dream or strangers. What do these people represent? Things that don't seem right, are weird or don't make sense are perfectly normal in dreams. The point here is to sense the thread of what is going on. Even names or words that come up in the dream can have great meaning.

Fourth: Link and associate what these themes, objects and people mean to you. Once you have these identified, see how they link to your everyday life - your struggles and your experiences.

Fifth: Don't try too hard or make yourself feel bad if you can't get it. Dream analysis takes patience and creativity. Sometimes I get a dream right away, and then there are times that I don't. But when I finally realize what the theme of my dream is or the issues therein, I always have an "a-ha" moment.


22 comments:

Kahless said...

I am having a lot of dreams about dogs at the moment. Always lovely dogs.

Wanda's Wings said...

I dream a lot. Sometimes I can't remember them. Sometimes they are very scary. Sometimes they are about when I was working as a nurse. The rat dream is the worst dream I have. They are everywhere and trying to bite me. I usually wake up screaming with this dream. I guess I afraid of something. I'll try writing my dreams down to look at them to see if there are any patterns.

Dr. Deb said...

Kath,
Oh, how great!

Wanda,
I dream alot too. Sometimes good dreams, sometimes terrifying. I try to analyze them too. Good for you. There can be great knowledge to be found.

TK Kerouac said...

I have a reoccurring dream where I can't make my leg move to put my foot on the break just before a crash

dawnmg79 said...

I hate it when I wake up and KNOW I had a great dream but can't pinpoint exactly what it was I was dreaming about. Those mornings drive me nuts because I so desperately want to remember even just a tiny piece. :)

Dreaming again said...

I dream a lot ... and remember many of them. I have what I call "stressmares" they are not nightmare quality, but the stress level is so high it effects me the next day.

Recently I had a dream that my therapist was dying ...and that she'd left her notes where I could see them (long story) instead of progress notes she'd been writing (forweeks) her grocery list or to do list... still rather disturbed by this dream ...

AdmGln said...

I can never remember my dreams. I'll have to try putting the pen and paper next to my bed...

lostinamaze said...

I dream a lot with many different dreams in a night and I also dream in vivid color. I also remember most of my dreams. About ninety percent of my dreams are about soldiers or aliens trying to capture me. I spend most of mine dreams running or hiding. I don't have a clue what they mean but it's very frustrating.

Angeliki said...

I have lots of dreams and I'd love to get a bit deeper and analyze them. I'm currently reading the "Interpretation of dreams" by Freud. Not a light reading :-)

HP said...

I can often remember my dreams that often, with thought, have connections to what's going on in my life. I find it interesting to mull over my dreams but most fade from memory quickly - that's why the notebook is such a good idea for anyone wanting to look at patterns..

I've never forgotten the most vivid dream I ever had..where I was crossing the road, standing next to a parked bus when a lorry swerved and slid towards me. I woke up just as I was about to get crushed between the two vehicles. That made nervous for a day or two!!!

jalalHB said...

Good tips - do you also have some clues to the dreams one sees too?

PTC said...

I have such detailed dreams and I remember them. I usually can remember 2-3 dreams a night. I love dreams.

dedich74 said...

Dr. Deb,

Are you a Jungian Psychoanalyst by chance? His school of thought has always held my interest and wish I could obtain more training in that methodology.

Cheers,
David
www.allthingsdepression.com

mrwriteon said...

I generally like my dreams. If not soothing, they are at least interesting; like little dramas. Wendy, on the other hand, always has disquieting dreams. Not true nightmares, but dreams that upset her nevertheless.

Dr. Deb said...

Hey all,

So great that some of you can remember your dreams. For those that want to understand them, look at the symbolism and themes in your dreams. This can work whether the dream is a soothing one or a upsetting one. Recurring dreams often have a common thread to them. Freud's work is a bit hard to digest, I sometimes recommend "A Beginners Guide to Dream Interpretation" or The Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding. But remember, a book may help you learn about things, but your own life history will be most important for interpretating your night-time experiences!

Melbourne Psychotherapists said...

What are your views on lucid dreaming / dream yoga and it's potential relationship to psychoanalysis?

cbeck said...

I thought dreams were just our minds way of processing daily information and storing/sorting memories. What level of analysis do you give dreams? How do you tell whether a scary dream is the result of internalized fear, or just recalling and reimagining that scary movie I was watching before bed? Or instead some combination of both? I could probably just ask my wife these questions, but since you are on the topic, I thought I would ask here... Thanks for any feedback.

Corinne said...

I too work with dreams a lot in my practice and I find that to start with my clients find my interpretation is very valuable, and they soon learn to do some of it themselves.

I also never just interpret, but ask them for their own associations and then add my own.

Melbourne Counsellor said...

Thanks Dr. Deb. Terrific tips to help clients gain awareness of their dream world. I often find that when I introduce some dream work into sessions with clients it becomes a skill they acquire and they continue to do it for themselves. Your tips simplify the process wonderfully.

Melbourne CBD Counsellor said...

Thanks for this post. Dream work in therapy can be really useful, and it's also important to note that dreamers hold a lot of the answers themselves. Someone else "analysing" your dreams might miss the mark. I do dream work with my clients sometimes and it's about exploring with the person what the dreams and symbols mean to them and how it might all fit together. Cheers.

Jerome b said...

I would like to know doctor how to be in absolute control in my dreams. Mainly just some ways to achieve control

Lucrezzia B. said...

Dr. deb I want to know how exactly to help to gain controll of my dreams. I believe what it is called is lucid dreaming.And o was wondering what I could do to help me do that