Dreams in Jungian Therapy and Analysis

Our dreams can be gifts. In our dreams we find ourselves inside our stories, feeling their impact. We may also feel or embody other dream sensations which well up from night dreams, reveries, daydreams, musings, mind-wanderings, and our nightmares.

Dreams come to each of us differently. Sometimes they are in fragments. Sometimes they feel like wisp of smoke from a barely remembered sleep-filled moment. Or they are whole dreams, forgotten dreams, or even nightmares. In my practice, they are all welcomed. Dreams are gifts which we welcome and explore to learn more about ourselves. I teach and encourage people to remember their dreams and how to work with their dreams within therapy.

Since the meaning of most dreams is not in accord with the tendencies of the conscious mind but shows particular deviations, we must assume that the unconscious, the matrix of dreams, has an independent function. This is what I call the autonomy of the unconscious. The dream not only fails to obey our will but very often stands in flagrant opposition to our conscious intentions.

― C.G. Jung

Jung worked on childhood dreams that still work within the adult psyche. He observed that some dreams look forward, not in prediction but in hinting at or identifying potential material. He identified that there are trauma dreams. He worked with nightmares. There are more “common” dreams that provide valuable views of what we are doing (or not doing) in conscious life. These dreams can be in contrast to or can comment upon what the domineering, often bullying, conscious ego wants. Archetypal dreams, sometimes called “big dreams” that announce a larger life circumstance, can present images from the shared or collective unconscious.

When working with different kinds of dreams and their dreamers, Jung strongly encouraged his patients to listen to and to feel what their dreams were relaying, often called an inner sensing of what is going on. He counseled careful exploration of them. When I work with you, we explore what uniquely emerges in dream content and its meaning for you. Based on my depth of training and experience in therapy and dreamwork, we work to understand this language of the unconscious as it pertains to you. This work often invites the return of energy.

Trained in dream analysis at the C.G. Jung Institute Kusnacht-Zürich, the Institute Carl and Emma Jung helped found in Switzerland, I developed a deep respect for dreams. I pay close attention to them as part of your process. In today’s rapid, technological world, learning to work with one’s dreams may take getting used to. Perhaps this is because of interrupted concentration or the hyper-focused digital age may negatively impact sleep through sleep deprivation. Are “screens” interfering with sleep and thus with dreaming, a vital important mind and body function? Perhaps. If you can sleep more regularly, once you begin to remember dreams and to work with them, they will help us guide your therapy.

Dreams are neither deliberate nor arbitrary fabrications; they are natural phenomena which are nothing other than what they pretend to be. They do not deceive, they do not lie, they do not distort or disguise, but naively announce what they are and what they mean. They are irritating and misleading only because we do not understand them.

― C.G. Jung

I encourage the people I work with to express their dream feelings, thoughts, or images inside and outside of our sessions. Like Robert Bosnak, Jungian Analyst, I work with you on the embodiment or important body feeling of dreams. Dream expression can be very helpful when you grapple with depression, trauma, anxiety, or other difficulty. Creative expression includes drawing, painting, and writing. Embodiment asks for a quieting and invitation for the body and mind to join in dream remembrance.

In the greater community, I know a young woman who takes the time to embroider her most meaningful dream images. I know an older man who took up oil painting later in his life so that he can respectfully reflect and work with his dream images more deliberately. You can do things like this too.

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