What is Dream Work?

Some of you know that one of the many ways that I work with people is utilizing dreams–whether they be waking or sleeping. This article is a quick way to get some insight into how I find working with dreams and symbols can be a helpful exercise in gaining deep insight into the problems you are currently experiencing and how to gain traction with skills at maneuvering them. Dream work is….

  1. Empowering. 
    Marie Louise von Franz, Swiss Jungian analyst and author, in “The Way of the Dream,” reminds us that dream analysts, or any healers, would be egotistical to think that they know better than you and/or tell you what you should or should not be doing. That is why she loved working with dreams, because they are your own soul whispering to YOU what YOU need to know, in a way that is unique to YOU, in order to get YOU to remember what actions to take, what to do, and so on. A therapist, analyst, dream worker, is really only there as a guide or to facilitate, like a midwife at your own birthing. Von Franz says,

    We [Jungian analysts or dream workers] only work with dreams because that is what comes out of the dreamer. The great danger of the healing profession is that one interferes with the other person’s life. For instance, what is “normal“? You have an idea of normality and you think the others should become normal. That’s interference. That’s a power attitude. Perhaps destiny or God or whatever you want to call the greater powers of the world don’t want this man to become normal. How do I know that he or she ought to be normal? And, on top of it, normal?–what I think of it as “normal”?–, my Bourgeois ideas of normality forced upon a poor human being who is destined to be very different?

    See why we love Marie Louise? Yep. That’s right. Total empowerment. She does not take on these “power attitudes” that she refers to, so common in our healing professions. I find this particularly relevant where feminine psychology is involved and women have been especially conditioned to accept the answers (high heels, etc.) provided to her in some arenas, by men, when clearly they don’t work. Marie Louise continues on to say, for those of us who care to indulge, that when a human being comes to you (for healing), you have to be honest and say “I have no idea where the problem comes from.” Anything otherwise is simply prejudice, in her view. She sees dream workers as translators that, when we interpret “correctly”, the interpretation “clicks” for the dreamer, and the dreamer feels able to change because the ideas are actually coming from his (or her) own self rather than the analyst. One has been already exposed to plenty of others telling him/her what to do before, and that doesn’t lead to true change, but the sense of hearing your own message (albeit facilitated by another) from yourself to yourself, is empowering.
    I love this!!!

  2. Inspiring.
    “Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams” by Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D. is a book that contains an amazing practice that inspired my attendance of Pacifica Graduate Institute to study my Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. It’s amazing how everything is connected; for example, I was very involved in an organization called Shakti Rising , volunteering and apprenticing, where a woman (Dianne Frost), doing her Ph.D. at Pacifica, was running a DreamTending group with a close-knit group of women. She wrote her doctoral dissertation based on this practice she performed with us. This practice resonated so deeply with me, it felt like a skill I had from forever, something I had always done. The dream of going to Pacifica to study my master’s sat in the back of my mind as something far away, but it was a seed that years later, when I found myself with a surprise pregnancy, came to fruition, as I stepped into living my dreams in order to inspire my future-son to live his.
  3. Age-Old & Universal. Sufism, Shamanism, Native American traditions, for as long as we can recall in history and herstory, have utilized dreams and dreamwork in their community building and healing, as well as individual healing. Dream work is used to receive messages for the community, for the individuals, to predict certain events, and in many, many more ways.
  4. Listening. Hones & develops our own objective and empathic listening skills, even when unexpected images and visitors come to our dreams, that can then be applied to our waking life. What do we do when we encounter dream images (or people in our life) we don’t like? Scary situations? Stressful situations? Sad situations? These are life skills, I am telling ya’.
  5. Helping us Hone & Develop our Embodiment Skills that can be applied to our Waking Life.
    One of the first things I encourage people I work with to do is to feel, in their bodies, the sensations they are talking about that come up for them in their dreams. Simply connecting with our feelings can be a big step, something that we may be avoiding in waking life that can be coming up in sleeping life. Then, when we can connect the feelings we are having with possible situations that relate in waking life, we may start to find some truth inklings that can start to sprout.

    Tanya Dantus is a DreamCoach trained as a Counseling Psychologist with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. She loves working with people to find meaning and depth in the symbols presenting themselves in their waking & sleeping dreams, to find rich, satisfying lives today. 🙂 <3 For more information on her one-on-one mentoring, see: www.tanyadantus.com/work-with-me

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