Tuesday, March 10, 2009

For Therapists: Dream Work in a Group

Chapter 5 of Clara Hill’s book Dream Work in Therapy (2003) discusses working with the Cognitive-Experiential Model in a group.

With a group, the therapist could use the Cognitive-Experiential Dream Model in same way that they would work with a dream individually. There are three stages.

  1. Exploration.
  2. Insight.
  3. Action.

In each stage, the therapist defers to the dreamer first, and then turns to the group for their thoughts about the dream. The group members respond to one or two images from the dream as if the images and the dream were their own, a technique borrowed from consummate dream group leader and author Montague Ullman. The therapist keeps the group moving from exploration, to insight, to action. In the insight stage, the group leader can ask the dreamer and other group members what the dream means and then guide the group in elaboration, looking at the different levels of interpretation. Upon entering into the action stage, the leader can ask the dreamer first to talk about how he or she might change the dream. Other members can talk about how they would change the dream and offer ideas for action. The dreamer ultimately decides what the action idea will be. Close with asking the dreamer how everything discussed fits together for him or her.

The advantage of dream work in a group is that the dreamer benefits from hearing input from other dreamers, input that can expand his or her understanding of the dream. In addition, the other group members benefit from working with someone else’s dream as if it were their own, developing insights and understandings about themselves. Dream groups work well for people who are going through separation and divorce as well as people who are grieving a loss. They provide social support during a stressful time when dreams tend to be more vivid.

I believe that the disadvantage to this approach is the time required to work through one dream work is two hours. It is my understanding that two hours is too long for most people looking for group therapy. It may be possible to do good work with a dream in a group setting using less than two hours. Another disadvantage may be that only one dream gets covered per group session.

1 comment:

Lisa Marie said...

I could definitely see time as being a disadvantage here! So much to talk about with dreams!