The reason why I like to work with dreams so much is that they are full of fantasies, they carry elements of science fiction, and they are seldom linear, always open to unlimited explanations and invite to interpretations. Dreams are incoherent, they speak a visual language, and they are multilayered. I like the work with dreams because it opens space for visual arts, for performing arts and psychological exploration. Dreams are often surreal and multidimensional.
As a psychologist I can work with dreams in order to see where the dreamer is on their live path, or if there is a problem that needs to be looked at. We can explore together if the dream carries messages from the subconscious mind that the dreamer is not aware of in waking life. Sometimes dreamers touch even into the collective unconscious. This has happened to me several times. Some dreams are precognitive.
Different schools of psychology, such as Gestalt therapy, transpersonal psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis approach dreams with respect to their theories. Gestalt therapy sees every single element in the dream as part of the dreamer, transpersonal psychotherapy works with the collective unconscious (Jungian approach) and psychoanalysis sees dreams solely as the suppressed parts of the dreamers (mainly) sexual life.
As long as we know, indigenous’ people, such Aborigines in Australia, Senoi people in Malaysia, Native Americans in the Americas, and Shamans all over the globe have developed rituals around dreams.
Since 1986 I am member of the International Association for the Studies of Dreams (ASD), where scientists, artists, psychologists, healers and indigenous people share their knowledge about dreams (asdreams.org). There is an annual conference, mainly in the US, where dream workers from all over the globe come together, present their findings and discuss. I have been presenting twice at these conferences. Each time my presentation contained the subject of creative expression and dreams.
Some artists, like Salvatore Dali or Marc Chagall, painted the incoherent stories of their dreams. Aren’t their artworks just wonderful?
There are scientists who found the solution to their search during their dreams. It is the subconscious mind that talks and offers the information without the “reasonable” filter of the mind. While we sleep, our subconscious mind sometimes continues to work on problems that our conscious minds have failed to solve.
The chemist Dmitri Mendeleev (1834 – 1907) for example found the solution to his research on the periodic table during his sleep, in a dream.
“In a dream I saw a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.” (Mendeleev)
René Descartes wrote that the basis of the Scientific Method came to him in dreams he had on November 10, 1619.
There are many more examples.
It is for a reason that we say: “Let me sleep on it.” Our subconscious mind is very powerful. Scientists try to figure out (without real success) why certain images appear in a dream and others don’t.
In my work with dreams, people sometimes tell me: “But I don’t dream.” This is not true. Even if we do not remember our dreams, we still dream. Dream scientists discovered recently that we dream even when there is no rapid eye movement (REM). I can tell you a good method how to remember your dreams. Let me know if you are interested.
When I was in Perth some years ago in order to give workshops on dreams, I developed a new method to understanding dreams. In a group of about 15 people, I put one dream to a constellation. Maybe you know about family constellation. Well, I adapted the method of family constellation during the workshop. One participant told her dream and I asked her to find representatives in the group so that the most important elements of the dream were visible in the room. A person represented even objects like a chair or a carpet. It was a very powerful experience for everybody present. The dreamer got clarification on her dream and representatives gained insights about themselves playing out the role of the dream element.
I am looking forward to going back to Perth this winter to do more dream work with the same people.
If you are interested in exploring dreams, please let me know. I consider myself an expert on dreams, or better I see myself as a Dream Archeologist.
As from January on I will guide an ongoing dream group in Brussels, using a method developed by the psychiatrist Montague Ullman “Dream Sharing”. Please let me know if you are interested.