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Dreamwork differs from classical dream interpretation in that the aim of dreamwork is to explore the various images and emotions that the dream presents - and evokes - while not attempting to come up with a single, unique dream meaning. In this way the dream remains "alive" whereas if it has been assigned a specific meaning, it is "finished" (i.e., over and done with). Dreamworkers are aware of the fact that a dream may indeed have a variety of meanings, depending on the levels (e.g., subjective, objective) that are being explored.
A tenet of dreamwork is that each person has his or her own dream "language". Any given place, person, object or symbol can differ in its meaning from dreamer to dreamer and also from time to time in the dreamer's ongoing life situation. Thus someone helping a dreamer get closer to her or his dream meaning should adopt an attitude of "not knowing" as far as possible and be ready to ask lots of questions.
When doing dreamwork it is best to wait until all the questions have been asked - and the answers carefuly listened to - before the dreamworker (or dreamworkers if it is done in a group setting) offers any suggestions about what the dream might mean. In fact, it is best if a dreamworker prefaces any interpretation by saying, "if this were my dream, it might mean ..." (a technique first developed by Montague Ullman M.D. and now widely practiced). In this way, the dreamer is not obliged to agree with what is said and thus has some "space" in which to feel if some sort of "click" or resonance occurs with that which has been offered. If the dream work is done in a group, there may well be several things that are said that seem to "click" with the dreamer but it can also happen that nothing does. Sometimes, things that are said later "click" in the time and days after the dreamwork session.
Those who experience this type of dreamwork quickly learn how powerful dreams can be. They also learn, though, that doing dreamwork by themselves is not nearly as productive as letting themselves be helped with the dream by others. When looking at a dream alone, one is somehow "too close to it" while telling the dream to someone else helps achieve some distance from it. It also often happens that as one tells a dream or works on it in this way other parts of the dream are suddenly remembered. This and the many questions and comments often make for a very rich experience.
- Delaney G New Directions in Dream Interpretation, State University of New York Press, Albany, (1993).
- Patricia L Garfield, Creative Dreaming (1974) ISBN 0-671-21903-0
- Hoss RJ Dream Language, Innersource, Ashland, (2005).
- Krippner S Dreamtime & Dreamwork, Jeremy P. Tarcher, New York (1990).
- Lasley J Honoring the Dream, PG Print, Marietta, (2004).
- Taylor J Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill, Warner Books New York, (1992).
- Ullman M, Zimmermann N Working with Dreams, Jeremy P.Tarcher Inc., Los Angeles, CA, 1985.
- Ullman M Appreciating Dreams: A Group Approach, Cosimo Books, New York, 2006.
- Van de Castle R Our Dreaming Mind, Ballantine Books, New York (1994).
- The International Association for the Study of Dreams Supports and discusses research in dreams and dreaming.
- Dreamwork ethics Ethical guidelines for dreamwork.
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