What is dreamwork?
Dreamwork is the way we work and play with
dreams and in dreams. Sigmund Freud used the word "dreamwork" to
mean the opposite, the way dreams play and work with us. But generally
dreamwork means that we are doing something with the dream either while we
are dreaming or with the dream image as it is recorded or remembered.
How to start a Dream
1. Get experience in an established dream
Psychotherapy Dream Groups.
Many psychotherapists offer dream groups. The expectations may
vary and it is important to ask at the beginning or in an information
interview whether the group is appropriate for you. Psychotherapy is
regulated in some areas and not in others. Find out what the regulating
organizations are and what they expect from their members. For example,
in California, the Board of Behavioral Science has clear guidelines for
psychotherapists regarding many behaviors, such as confidentiality and
Any kind of psychotherapy may include dreamwork, but the schools most
commonly associated with dream groups are Jungian, Gestalt and
therapists identified as "eclectic." You might also
investigate therapists who have had training in psychosynthesis,
bodywork, process psychology and transpersonal psychology.
Grassroots Dream Groups
The expectations and practices of grassroots dreamgroups
my vary greatly. Be sure to ask the members or hosts and leaders what
the expectations are and what kind of ethical guidelines they use. To
locate a local group you can contact therapists in the area and ask them
if they know of any, you can view the DreamNetwork
dreamworkers regional networkers list, or you can call local
spiritual and religious groups which often have groups. A.R.E. often
sponsers dream groups. Often member from ASD
run dream groups. Be sure to contact BADG
in the San Francisco - Bay Area. You can also join one of Dream
Tree's local elists for dreamwork information
Online Dream Groups
If you are having trouble finding a regional dreamgroup, you might
consider an online dreamgroup. The advantage of these groups is that you
can sign on anonymously. You can use a search engine to find a group,
post your request for a group on the Usenet Newsgroups alt.dreams or
join an Electric
Dreams group. The Electric Dreams groups, called DreamWheels,
practice a fun and insightful method developed by Montague Ullman,
Jeremy Taylor and others, but modified for online use by John Herbert,
Ph.D., Richard Wilkerson and others. More information below.
Just to pitch our resource on this, DreamGate provides a course
online that backs the DreamWheel with six weeks of information about
2. Start Your Own Dream Group
Prepare the Group Structure
Before you start a group, decide how you will conduct the group.
This includes not only how the time is going to be divided and spent,
but also how you will begin each meeting, how you will brief new
members, how you will handle problems that may arise and how you will
close the group. Will the group have a leader or moderator that is paid,
or will you practice peer or partnership paradigm dream sharing? How
many people will be in the group, how often will you meet, how long, and
The Association for the Study of Dreams recommends that you develop
an ethics statement, and they provide a
template for this. You can see how the Electric Dreams
community adopted this for
their groups. Also, Jeremy Taylor offers a guideline in his tool
kit which is useful to consider and Peggy Coats at the Dream Tree
Rules. BADG offers
information on the Partnership Paradigm. If you become a member of ASD,
you can also discuss these rules on the ASD E-Study Group called Group
Find Members and Build your Group.
Once you can present the idea and structure of your group, you can
begin inviting others to join you. Ideas for where to find members: post
your invitation in venues where the people you are looking for likely to
see the post. Offline, this may be at a local library or church, local
educational centers or places where psychologically or spiritually
oriented seminars or workshops are help, or in a newspaper or
magazine that are distributed locally.
The best way is still word-of-mouth, telling your friends to ask people
to contact you or suggest people who might be interested.
If you are looking online for local people, use your cities
website or the bulletin board of local schools and other local
organizations. The Dream Network also offers regional networking.
Resources for starting and running dream
Intentional dreaming includes all forms of
interacting with dreams in ways to influence the dream or dream
experience. Generally this means setting an intention before going to
sleep to change the dream or dream experience in one way or another. The
intention may vary greatly. Some people use intentions to have lucid
dreams, some use intentions to have various events occur during the dream,
like flying or breathing water or walking through walls. Others use
intentions to ask questions of the dream or dream-maker and look at the
resultant dream as an answer to this question. Intentional dreaming is
also used to control nightmares. Most well-versed dreamworkers have at
least one or more special intentional dreaming techniques.
There are a wide range of events during sleep and wake
that are often referred to as "nightmares" and it is wise to
learn to distinguish between them. Most of what we call nightmares are
simply extreme reactions and fear that accompany uncomfortable dreams that
occur from time to time in most everyone, usually towards the end of the
sleep cycle. Often we are awakened by a nightmare and there can be strong
feelings of sadness, anger or guilt, but usually fear and anxiety. Often
we are being chased, and its not unlikely for children to be chased by
animals and fantasy figures, while adults are often chased by male adults.
Night terrors usually occur during the first hour
or two of sleep. Screaming and thrashing about are common. The sleeper is
hard to awaken and usually remembers no more than an overwhelming feeling
or a single scene, if anything. Children who have night terrors also may
have a tendency to sleepwalk and/or urinate in bed. The causes of night
terrors are not well understood, though it appears that night terrors are
from a distinctly different stage of sleep. Children usually stop having
them by puberty. They may be associated with stress in adults. A
consultation with a physician may be useful if the night terrors are
frequent or especially disturbing.
Why do we have nightmares?
Nightmares may have several causes, including drugs, medication,
illness, trauma or they may have no related cause and be spontaneous.
Often they occur when there is stress in one's waking life, and when major
life changes are occurring.
What can be done about nightmares?
The Association for the Study of Dreams notes that "It really
depends on the source of the nightmare. To rule out drugs, medications or
illness as a cause, discussion with a physician is recommended. It is
useful to encourage young children to discuss their nightmares with their
parents or other adults, but they generally do not need treatment. If a
child is suffering from recurrent or very disturbing nightmares, the aid
of a therapist may be required. The therapist may have the child draw the
nightmare, talk with the frightening characters, or fantasize changes in
the nightmare, in order help the child feel safer and less frightened
Nightmares also offer the same opportunity that other
dreams do, to investigate the symbols and imagery for life enhancement.
The challenge in the last few decades for the dreamwork movement has been
to teach a variety of methods that replace the old phase "It was just
a dream." In American schools, people like Jill Gregory and Ann
Wiseman teach children coping mechanisms that allow the child to come into
relationship with the dream monsters and fears in a novel and related
manner. Ernest Hartmann and other researchers are finding that those who
have "thin" personalities, or sensitive, receptive individuals,
are more likely to have nightmares than "thick" personalities.
Pioneers like Linda Magallon, Stephen Laberge and Jayne Gackenbach are
teaching people to take control of their dreams and have the outcomes they
wish rather than becoming the dream's victim.
For an update on the latest sites and information,
be sure to check the ED
International Association for the Study of Dreams offers advice, articles and books on
nightmares and you will find among its members the top researchers in the
NIGHTMARE BOOKS RECOMMENDED BY ASD
Wiseman, Ann Sayre (1986, 1989). Nightmare help. A
guide for adults and children. Ten Speed Press.
Available only by request from Wiseman for $10. Contact at Ansayre@aol.com
Krakow, Barry, and Neidhardt, Joseph (1992). Conquering
bad dreams and nightmares. Berkeley Books.
Hartmann, Ernest (1984). The Nightmare: The Psychology
and Biology of Terrifying Dreams. Basic books.
MORE ON NIGHTMARES
Cushway, Delia, and Sewell, Robyn (1992). Counseling
with dreams and nightmares.Sage publications.
Kellerman, Henry (Ed.) (1987). The Nightmare:
Psychological and Biological Foundations. Columbia University Press.
Lazar, Moshe (Ed) (1983). The Anxious Subject:
Nightmares and Daymares in Literature and Film. Undena.
Downing, J., and Marmorstein, E. (Eds.) Dreams and
Nightmares: A Book of Gestalt Therapy Sessions. New York: Harper and
All participants are obliged to adhere to
the ethical standards established by the Electric Dreams community:
The Electric Dreams community
celebrates the many benefits of dreamwork, yet recognizes that there are
potential risks. We agree with the ethical position taken by the Association
for the Study of Dreams ( http://www.asdream.org),
in that we support an approach to dreamwork and dream sharing that respects
the dreamer's dignity and integrity, and which recognizes the dreamer as the
decision-maker regarding the significance of the dream. Systems of dreamwork
that assign authority or knowledge of the dream's meanings to someone other
than the dreamer can be misleading, incorrect, and harmful. Ethical
dreamwork helps the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings,
and associations, and guides the dreamer to more fully experience,
appreciate, and understand the dream.
Every dream may have multiple meanings,
and different techniques may be reasonably employed to touch these multiple
layers of significance. A dreamer's decision to share or discontinue sharing
a dream should always be respected and honored. The dreamer should be
forewarned that unexpected issues or emotions may arise in the course of the
dreamwork. Information and mutual agreement about the degree of privacy and
confidentiality are essential ingredients in creating a safe atmosphere for
Dreamwork outside a clinical setting is
not a substitute for psychotherapy, or other professional treatment, and
should not be used as such.
We recognize and respect that there are
many valid and time-honored dreamwork traditions. We invite and welcome the
participation of dreamers from all cultures. There are social, cultural, and
transpersonal aspects to dream experience. In this statement we do not mean
to imply that the only valid approach to dreamwork focuses on the dreamer's
personal life. Our purpose is to honor and respect the person of the dreamer
as well as the dream itself, regardless of how the relationship between the
two may be understood.
The Electric Dreams Community, March
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (2000 April) A
Brief History of the Electric Dreams DreamWheel. Electric Dreams
7(4). Retrieved July 14, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web:
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1999 November). The
Origins of the Electric Dreams Community: Part I. Electric Dreams
6(11). Retrieved July 13, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web:
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1999 November). The
ABZZzzzzs of Dreaming. Electric Dreams 6(11). Retrieved July 13,
2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1999 March). The
Proliferation of Dream Discussion eLists on the Internet. Electric
Dreams 6(3). Retrieved July 11, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett ed. (1998
Short History on the Rise of Dream Sharing in Cyberspace. Electric
Dreams 5(9). Retrieved July 8, 2000 on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams
on How to Interpret Your Dreams:
Delaney, Gayle (1988 revised edition).Breakthrough
Dreaming; How to Tap the Power of Your 24-Hour Mind Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publishing Group, Inc.
Gayle teaches people how to conduct a Dream Interview, which allows a
person to quickly understand a dream of ones own or another without
forcing interpretations on them.
Shafton, Anthony (1995). Dream Reader: Contemporary
Approaches to the Understanding of Dreams . Albany, NY: Suny Press.
A very deep analysis of different approaches to understanding dreams and
the schools from which they evolved.
Faraday, Ann (1973, 1986) Dream Power, Berkley Pub.
A very popular book which covers many contemporary approaches and has
now been republished as The Dream Game.
Garfield, Patricia (1974, 1985) Creative Dreaming,
A classic book which has taught many people how to work and appreciate
dreams. See here many other books on dreams and their meaning at http://www.patriciagarfield.com
Reed, Henry (1991) Dream Solutions: Using Your Dreams To
Change Your Life, New World Library.
Techniques on writing and interpreting dreams from a pioneer in the
Reed, Henry(1985). Getting Help form your Dreams. Virginia
Beach, VA: Inner Vision Publishing Co.
Taylor, Jeremy (1983) Dream Work: Techniques For
Discovering the Creative Power of Dreams, Paulist Press.
Taylor takes the difficult language of Carl Jung and provides a profound
but easy to use approach to dream interpretation.
Ullman, Montague & Zimmerman, Nan (1979, 1985) Working
With Dreams, J. P. Tarcher.
This book is especially good for those interested in group dreamwork.
Williams, Strephon K. (1980) Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork
Manual, rev. ed., Journey Press
Williams once ran an institute on dreamwork and has collected his many
years of techniques and practices giving the reader a wide variety to choose
Wiseman, Ann S. (1989) Nightmare Help,
This book is designed for children and for adults working with children.
No longer in print, but available through
For a more complete listing look at the DreamGate