A brief overview of a significant topic. Diane said the first recorded dream work originated with the Sumerians of Mesopotamia around 3100 – 2700 BC who used clay tablets on which to record their dreams. In Ancient Babylon dreams were thought to be heavenly in origin and the early Greeks viewed them as visitations from the Gods. Native Americans have a deep spiritual connection with all the natural world – everything is sacred and connected. Indigenous Australians see dreamtime as the period when life was created. 

In sharing the background to her journey with dreamwork Diane said, ‘today you will discover a little of what makes the world of dreams so fascinating and exciting’ and thoughtfully guided us in how to work competently with dreamwork (dependent upon our level of experience and qualification) and so avoid causing any harm to others, particularly our clients. The day provided a brief sight of the ‘tip of the dream-world iceberg’ and how important it was to allow ourselves to have fun with this way of working whilst being aware exploring dreams may trigger memories or unexpected emotions thus reminding us to quickly notice when to STOP if needed. The participants were fully engaged with the subject and its mysteries, openly sharing questions and concerns from their own dreamwork. Diane shared her experience and wisdom of the world of dreams, empowering her audience to openly share too. A collaborative day informed by Diane’s gift to us of an attractive guiding booklet for today’s journey: ‘In dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own.’   

It is important to work with clients and their dreams, and with our dreams in personal therapy, as it is a key access point to our unconscious internal process. This psychological subject termed Oneirology, from Ancient Greek, means study of dreams based on quantitively researching and understanding the process of dreaming and its possible impact on the brain as opposed to analysing any of the dreams themselves (Wikipedia). 

 

When discussing sleep, Diane said there was no right amount required as each person’s need is different and the important issue is to identify what amount of sleep  is right for you and to follow your personal needs. Understanding each person’s dream and sleep experiences often informs a key part of continual professional development and the needs of our health and well-being.  The learning outcomes offered included awareness of sleep needs, wakeful brain and body functions; identifying various therapeutic approaches to dream work; understanding the necessity for assessing client suitability for such work; safely working with clients and their dreams; the need for appropriate, experienced supervision; the accessing of on-going further exploration around working with dreams and our client groups and any sensitive issues this may identify. Different types of dreams were explored – lucid dreams, nightmares, night terrors, hypnic jerks or false awakening. The work of Freud, Adler, Hall, CBT and Jung was also discussed. 

‘If sleep doesn’t serve an absolutely vital function, it is the greatest mistake evolution has made’  Allan Rechtschaffen 

The analysis of dreams is an art, a technique, a science of psychological life; it is not a game but a practical method of inestimable value to those who learn its language’  Carl Jung

Diane’s key points were: ‘The therapeutic use of dreams; the history of dreams; what happens to us as we sleep (to be aware of sleep and the wakeful brain and body functions); the importance of REM sleep in the function of dreaming and its impact on our body, mind and spirit (from Awake, non-Rem, REM sleep and a brief period of wakefulness and the cycle begins again); the different therapeutic ways of working; safely identifying suitable clients for dream work and working with our dreams within therapy and supervision. Diane encouraged us to explore which dreams we might like to bring to the group or to our role play opportunities in the afternoon – which worked well and were experienced as insightful. The discussions and role plays plus all the learning shared was well received with feedback stating, ‘the whole day was really thought provoking;’ the ‘presentation was detailed and engaging’ an ‘excellent use of time and workshop.’  Diane shared how important it is to keep a dream diary. Write or record your dream verbatim without comment or interpretation at this initial stage, then analyse the dream’s structure – order, place, people. Record every detail and perhaps ask why this dream and why now – what am I trying to tell myself? Over time themes and messages may reveal themselves as you explore the dreams more deeply within therapy or by yourself.

Inspiration and Genius via Dreams can also unexpectedly appear within this process as it has already done for others:

Alfred Einstein – Theory of Relativity; Steve Jobs – Apple I-phone; August Kekulé – Benzene ring and Dmitri Mendeleev – Periodic Table.

Thank you, Diane, for such a thoughtful, well prepared workshop and for leading such a worthwhile day.  

 Reviewed by Jacqueline Holloway.