Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many people have been paying extra attention to their dreams. As various places around the world went into quarantine, an increasing number of people have reported experiencing bizarre and memorable dreams.
According to a recent dream survey conducted by an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, the incidence of vivid dreams has in fact increased as coronavirus spread around the world. Relatedly, within the past year alone, approximately 15% of cognitive behavioral therapy clients and 50% of psychoanalysis clients have discussed these and other dreams with their therapists.
Despite the recent surge of interest on the subject, dream work has been an important therapeutic approach for over a century. Since the 1900 publication of Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, there have emerged a variety of approaches and theoretical perspectives that therapists may take towards dream work.
Even the term “dream work” has a broad definition and can refer to events within therapy in which the focus is on dreams or to an entire approach to therapy, like Jungian therapy or imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT).
When conducting dream work with their clients, most cognitively oriented therapists report that they listen if clients bring in dreams, explore connections between dream images and waking life, ask for a description of the images, and collaborate with clients to construct interpretations of dreams.
Likewise, psychoanalytically oriented therapists also report engaging in these four activities, but also encourage clients to associate to dream images, work with conflicts represented in dreams, interpret dreams in terms of waking life and past experiences, invite clients to tell dreams, encourage clients to re-experience feelings in dreams and use dream images as metaphors later in therapy.
Regardless of the theoretical approach, therapists who explore dreams report that a majority of their clients benefit from dream work and their observations are now supported by empirical evidence. Recent research has found that dream work employed during therapy decreases symptoms of depression while increasing feelings of well-being, self-esteem and insight.
Dream work studies have also suggested which clients may benefit the most from a dream work approach. Results of these studies suggest that clients with positive attitudes towards dreams have the most positive outcomes, indicating that valuing dreams may be an important precondition for dream work.
The salience of a client’s dreams may also be an important predictor of dream work efficacy. Clients who profited most from dream work presented dreams that seemed potent or powerful to them. Additionally, clients who feel that working with dreams may help them accomplish their goals experience better outcomes of dream sessions than those who do not.
While the benefits of dream work seem promising, more empirical evidence is needed to compare the effectiveness of different dream models and determine whether certain models may be more effective with different types of clients.
Over 100 years ago, cocaine was the world’s newest wonder drug— advertised as a cure for everything from morphine addiction to tuberculosis. Sigmund Freud was one of cocaine’s biggest supporters. Freud was known for administering cocaine to his friends and praising the drug’s therapeutic benefits in his first major scientific publication, “On Coca”. In the late 1800’s, cocaine was widely available in tonics, powders, wines and soft drinks before its mass consumption created a addiction crisis among its users. With news of addictions and overdose deaths spreading, Freud stopped advocating cocaine’s medical benefits, but continued to use the drug intermittently for migraines, nasal inflammation and depression until the turn of the century.
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We are so grateful to our incredible clinical team for bringing some much-needed laughter, compassion and support to our transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) patients during this difficult time. We acknowledge that these past few weeks have been challenging for medical professionals around the world, and we are so thankful to our staff for staying committed to our patients who need mental health support now, more than ever. For more information on TMS as a safe, highly effective and drug-free therapy, visit https://neurowellnessspa.com/tms-therapy/