Thursday, March 26, 2009

Putting Dream Work Into Practice III

It's nice to share our dreams and generally, people really like to tell others about their dreams. In fact, people have been sharing their dreams since the beginning of time. This being the case, dream sharing can be used in terms of formal dream interpretation. Many authors have used dream sharing in groups to help a dreamer find a link to waking life. Extending this previous work, The Projective Method of Dream Interpretation (DeCicco, 2007) was designed and then tested. The method has been used in groups with a specific protocol-it's easy to use and to teach. Also, the method has been scientifically tested and found to link to specific events in waking life. The method ensures safety and protects the dreamer's personal, private and confidential matters that may arise.

Sharing dreams in groups can provide discovery for the dreamer and also provides a space for group members to connect with each other. The method appears valuable to dreamers, workshop leaders, group therapy leaders and dream enthusiasts alike. After all, it is nice to share.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Putting Dream Work Into Practice II

Since designing and using The Storytelling Method (DeCicco, 2006) in practice and in groups, the method was translated into Italian (DeCicco & Donati, 2008), Spanish (DeCicco & Gallo, 2009) and is now being translated into French. The method proved valuable since people were able to find meaning in their dreams quickly and easily. Also, their early success led them to want to do more. Once they were comfortable with the new world of dream interpretation, I then moved them into a deeper level of interpretation which was accessing their emotions.

The 2A Method was designed which is based on association from dream images and amplification as well. Emotions are then specifically accessed from this process. A worksheet is used which makes the method easy to follow and to teach. Participants generally find that they have to work harder with this method since it is longer and a little more demanding. Results from testing show that, like The Storytelling Method, people find discovery about 80% of the time. Discovery links the dream images to waking life events and to the emotions associated with those events. Also, discovery from the method was significantly different than the control group.

The 2A Method appears to be a useful second step in a dream interpretation practice. It slowly guides the dreamer to a deeper level of meaning while not being so demanding that participants will not engage in the process. It is user-friendly, effective and a great way for dream workshop leaders and clinicians to guide dreamers yet further into the process of self-discovery.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Putting Dream Work Into Practice: Step I

It has been recognized in scientific writings that dream interpretation can be extremely valuable. Anyone who uses, teaches or practices dream interpretation will certainly know this by the life-changing insights that occur with dream work. Unfortunately, it is still the case that most practitioners do not know how to actually do dream work or dream therapy, they don't know where to get this training, and even when clients/patients ask for dream work they are reluctant to work with dreams. Even the terminology is confusing-dream work, dream interpretation, dream therapy, what does it all mean? Though they all mean the same thing and lead to the same valuable goal, the field is still not well versed.

Over the past 4 years I have worked diligently on designing a dream interpretation tools that could be used in therapy, or, for self-guided dream work. I started with groups of patients and worked on a dream interpretation tool, tested it, re-tested it, tested it again, tested it against control groups, tested it again, until I could predict the tool led to discovery. My hope was that I would have a tool that clinicians who were not specifically trained in dream interpretation could begin using it in practice. Anyone who wanted to simply pick it up and use it, with little training, could do so and find discovery.

The result has been that this tool which I call The Storytelling Method of Dream Interpretation (DeCicco, 2006; 2007) could be easily used, shared in groups, easily taught and, used between therapy sessions by clients/patients. It was the beginning of building the knowledge of dream work for people who were novice. Clinicians began using it because clients had early success and it was easy to use and to teach. Researchers began using it because it provided an empirical protocol for dream work and people in general began using it because it helped them tap into the mystery of dreaming quickly and easily.

I am hoping that the method is helping to close the gap between wanting to add dream work into a practice and not knowing where to begin. The method also allows for safety and privacy while leading to discovery (80% of the time!). The Storytelling Method connects dream imagery directly to waking day issues. Of course dreams are very complex and therefore, more than one interpretation is needed to tap into the emotions, hopes, desires, longings and other mysteries that dreams represent.

Once The Storytelling Method was in place, well-tested and working well, I began the second method of dream interpretation which would tap directly into the emotions that were generating a dream: The 2A Method, which I will discuss in my next blog...Putting Dream Work Into Practice: Step II

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sex Dreams: What Do They Really Mean?

A man dreams that he is having sex with his boss at the office. A woman has a recurring dream that she is having sex with her ex-husband. Another man dreams that he is having sex with his wife and then he morphs into a woman. What do these dreams mean? Though writers have been interested in dreams with sexual imagery since the beginning of time, very few have scientifically examined these dreams.

Several authors have examined the characteristics of sex dreams for gender differences, target, dream acts etc., but only very recently was the meaning of sex dreams examined (DeCicco, 2009; DeCicco & Clarke, 2009; DeCicco, King & Humphreys, 2008). Dream interpretation with The Storytelling Method (DeCicco, 2007) was used and some very exciting findings were revealed.

One finding was that 2 major categories of discovery or meaning was found: 1) Sex and, 2) Relationship issues. Dreams that had more body parts, nudity and sex acts yielded a discovery about sex (e.g. I want to have sex with my boss, I fantasize about sex with my ex-boyfriend). The second major category yielded discovery about relevant waking day relationship issues with current partner, past partner, friends, family, etc. (e.g This dream relates to the recent fight with my husband, this dream relates to my ex-husband's feelings for me). All studies had >80% of participants reporting discovery when using The Storytelling Method of Dream Interpretation with a sex dream. This implies that dream interpretation with this method may be a valuable tool for tapping into relationship issues with dreams with sexual content.

This research is now being extended to examine dreams and infidelity, waking day behaviour, and cultural differences. For example, the sex dreams of Italians and Canadians are now being examined (DeCicco, Zanasi, Musolino & Wright, 2009). Investigating the meaning of dreams with sexual imagery promises to yield many important findings in a research area that has been underdeveloped with dreams that are typical, and yet, still mysterious.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Playing the Violin While I Sleep

Dream writings from the beginning of time have suggested that dreams can be used for creative pursuits. Many authors, artists and scientists have documented that dreams have helped with inventions, works of art, and writings, in many ways. I myself have experienced writing in my own dreams, which has helped me to find new ways of expressing material in scientific articles and, in the writing of my recent book.

In conversations with a professor of psychology and music in Italy, Massimo Schinco experienced writing a piece of music in a dream. He plays the piece and explains the process on youtube at:

This work nicely explains the creative process of music and the contribution that the dreaming mind can make. Interestingly, in my own teachings and workshops, I find people who are not familiar with the dreaming mind believe that sleep and dreams is akin to falling off the face of the earth. It`s as if sleep is a totally disconnected experience for the individual. In reality, the opposite is true. Sleep and dreaming is a continuous process of consciousness from waking mind to sleeping mind, back to waking mind again, etc. Once we realize this, then we can become aware of our own consciousness while awake and, while asleep in dreaming. What would be the benefit of this?

By paying attention to dreams and then consciously working with them, we can tap into the creative process that occurs while sleeping. The dreaming mind assimilates and consolidates information and then creates new information-as is illustrated by Massimo Schinco on youtube.
We now have a self-generating information system that we can tap into for our own creativity. We can literally write, paint, sculpt and even play the violin in new and creative ways, while sleeping.