The Dreaming Self

Dreams bring rich experiences of wonder and discovery, and occasionally frightening encounters, that plunge one into one's dark interior. According to scientific observations, dreams ebb and flow through the night with the REM cycle and are thought to be the processing of remnants from daytime experiences. However, in depth psychotherapy, dreams are viewed as a powerful resource for therapy. Dreams can provide a vivid depiction of your inner process and, like a map of your interior, help us understand your evolving response to your life situation. Many therapists feel that dreams impart a form of personalized insight as well as foresight, and can act as a communication as if from an inner guide. Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, described dreams as the “royal road to the unconscious”, and saw dreams as a repository of repressed wishes and desires. Jung believed dreams to be a window to one’s unconscious and felt dreams could help the waking self move towards wholeness and healing.

Over the last hundred years of therapy, there have developed numerous ways to interpret a dream. Many dreams contain certain common themes with which we all can resonate. An example of a frequently reported dream is of being in front of a group naked, or wearing only underwear. Another is dreaming that you have come to a class and discovered there is a surprise exam, or you are late for an important appointment. These types of dreams reflect concerns about self-presentation and performance, and may be related to anxieties about self-esteem and ability.

In my work with my clients, I explore dreams with a focus on the details and what they remind one of, noting associations and parallels to one’s present life. As with works of art, myth, and sacred texts, dreams contain symbols, the language of the unconscious psyche. Dream symbols can become keys, unlocking profound new understandings of one’s present life—often centering upon emotionally difficult areas that we cannot access in other ways. Recurring dreams or a series of dreams with a repeating theme can be an expression of your inner self trying in different ways to communicate with your conscious self. Sometimes a dream has an old friend or a deceased loved one carrying a message. Do you have a dream that you have been wondering about that you would like to understand better? I work with people one on one to help them gain insight into the symbols of their dreams, and to understand and relate to the deeper qualities within themselves. This connecting of your inner self to your outer self helps all areas of your life. The more access you have to all of yourself, much of which may be unconscious, the more resources you have to draw upon and more skillfully create your life.



© Yvonne Smith Klitsner 2014


Yvonne Smith

Yvonne Smith Klitsner PhD, MFT practices psychotherapy for individuals and couples in San Francisco and Marin, California.