Traditional Dream Therapy
Most people know the basic premise of dream therapy. It involves recording elements and images from dreams and subjecting them to interpretation. Sigmund Freud used dream analysis with his patients during the late 19th century, and this was considered a valid treatment tool until the later part of the 20th century. Dream therapy continued to be used, but took on an esoteric aura.
Clients of dream therapy condition themselves to record their dreams upon waking. Dreams are captured by drawing, voice recording, and writing. Most people remember fragments of their dreams and often that is what counselor and client are left to work with.
There are many ways to interpret dreams, and many cultures have used dreams for prophecy and healing. Most of today’s counselors believe the best interpretation of a dream comes from the client who dreamed it. The information gleaned from a dream may provide the client with better self-understanding and suggest solutions to their problems.
Dream therapy is now inching its way into the spotlight again because of research that links the state of lucid dreaming to the state of psychosis. It seems that our brain reacts generally the same way during both experiences.
Lucid Dreaming Therapy
When a dreaming person becomes aware that he is dreaming it is called a lucid dream. People who experience lucid dreams feel fully present in them, and they can choose how events or conversations take place. It is similar to being on a surreal movie set inside your own mind where you can make changes in the script.
During Lucid Dreaming
- People feel less fearful when confronting something threatening in a lucid dream (as opposed to a regular dream).
- Because the dreamer can manipulate the dream, they can come into direct contact with what is significant to them such as certain people, places, or times.
- Lucid dreamers report that during conversations with a dream figure, they are aware of the mechanics of their personality, meaning they understand where certain traits originated and how they affect others.
- Dreamers can work with their personality therapeutically during a lucid dream, changing its structure.
Lucid dreaming therapy has been considered a PTSD treatment by some professionals for over a decade. This idea continues to grow and find acceptance.
During lucid dreams, it is possible to confront threatening situations since fear is manageable. Dreamers can attack threatening dream figures, though it’s more effective to dialog and reconcile. If a reconciliation occurs, the once-threatening figure can become an ally.
It is easy to imagine how lucid dreaming might help someone with PTSD. They would be able to confront what terrifies them and eventually come to terms with the situation or person. Research on this, and on the connection between lucid dreaming and mental disorders, could bring dreams back to the forefront of therapy treatment.