The International Association For The Study of Dreams is holding it's annual conference in Chicago (June, 2009). For details click the link below:
It is here that many scientists, researchers, and clinicians will share their knowledge on what dreams mean and how they can be useful in waking life. One of the main reasons for this work is to reveal coping mechanisms to waking day problems. During sleep time the brain undergoes complex neurophysiological functioning that sorts, stores, and creates new information. It is during dreaming that this new information can be accessed. We have many examples where solutions to problems are revealed (e.g. how to deal with a difficult child, or, work-related issues causing distress are solved) Examples of coping mechanisms in dream imagery are quite numerous.
The coping literature in psychology has suggested that there are 3 basic coping techniques; avoidance coping, emotion coping and problem-solving coping (Endler, 1998). If we begin with this premise, we will see that the dreaming brain will reveal to the dreamer two important aspects of coping. The first is the coping mechanism that is being employed in waking day, such as crying or yelling at others in a dream (emotion coping!). The second is a solution to a problem with a new coping pattern, such as working out an interpersonal problem in the dream, rather than crying or yelling.
Dreams can offer a rich source of information for coping with everyday problems. An interesting study would be to measure participants` coping techniques in waking day and then analyzing their dreams for possible coping techniques and solutions. This would help tap into the important phenomena of using dreams for coping.