Archetypal Dreamwork is an intimate and powerful way of invoking the feelings, knowledge and history hidden in our nightly dream life. Each of us have stories, images and ways of processing our experience that is unique to who and how we are in life. Dreamwork taps into the connection between the dreamer and the dream, creating a bridge from the unconscious into our everyday life. Traditional psychotherapy can sometimes circle on the surface of the notional where conceptual and intellectual ‘realities’ continually trap us. Entering into the dreamworld through supported, experiential guidance can invoke the power of love, hurt, and healing beyond the bounds of ego-centric mind. Open up your dreams and the secrets they are offering you. [ARTWORK by Erin Ann Koch]
Q & A:
Q: Where does Archetypal Dreamwork come from?
Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, dreamer and dreamworker is most heavily credited with the insights and work leading to the process of Archetypal Dreamwork. A core part of his vision and work involved the possibility and the personal process of integrating opposites (masculine & feminine, isolation & belonging, independence & support, activity & stillness, conscious & unconscious, et al.) while still maintaining their autonomy.
“Archetypes” are the psychic counterpart of instinct and come to us most clearly in dreams where our perception or experience of them cannot be distorted or blocked by conscious effort or attitude.
Example…I had a dream where I was running around a department store trying to grab stuff before a torrential flood came through town and washed us all away. There was a woman standing there on the other side of a glass counter with a kind of dumb bliss look on her face. In the dream I felt a little put off by her, the way she was so out of context to my hysteria and mad dash to survive. Without much thought I ran downstairs and out onto the street… When I worked this dream with support I had the chance to feel what it was like to be with her beyond my momentary reaction, an almost immediate torrent of pain and sadness arose in me, a simultaneous feeling of the possibility of being supported and loved along with a regret at having missed my chance to turn toward her instead of what felt like the true imperative – running for my life.
In this dream, the feminine Archetype, sometimes referred to as the Anima or female guide, was there to show me and let me feel what its like to be, to feel the power, support and connection, even in dire circumstances versus my own dysfunctional pattern of spinning, running around like a madman trying to survive (e.g. a negative male archetype) the inescapable.
Q: What does the process of Archetypal Dreamwork entail?
Archetypal Dreamwork is radically different than dream interpretation or dream analysis both of which utilize a fixed set of meanings for dream elements and dynamics. In the process of Archetypal Dreamwork the dreamer makes an effort to write down dreams upon awakening. Dream fragments and even strong feelings that you might wake up with but can’t associate with any dreams or dream images can be utilized powerfully. These dreams are either sent ahead of the session or brought into the session and subsequently “worked through”. This working through involves a timely combination of active imagination and witnessing, nonjudgmental inquiry, psychodrama (a way of acting out dream moments), slowing down and staying with elements, deepening into moments, discrepancy finding, as well as basic associative work with the various elements of your dreams. All of the mechanics of guidance are collaborative and in the service of supporting the dreamer to come into an open dialogue and active relationship with unintegrated or unconscious aspects of self or history, intimate patterns of being, buried potentials long forgotten, and the intense feelings we have that are often mirrored by intense dream images and situations.
Q: How is Archetypal Dreamwork different then traditional psychotherapy?
Because it works with material that has not been generated by the consciously biased self, dreamwork often supports an intense and somewhat experiential exploration of unacknowledged aspects of being (i.e. relationship needs, feelings, desires). While traditional therapy can utilize experiential techniques, it more commonly relies on historical or emotional insights and intellectual understandings worked on through the medium of verbal and conceptual support. These two approaches naturally lead to different results.
Example…I had a dream where I was in someone else’s house, a storm was coming and other people were anxious around it, feeling pressure of anticipation. The storm comes through and there are these coke bottles on the floor in the basement that somehow start filling up and overflowing with water. It is my job and the job of the people I am with to deal with the bottles by bringing them up and outside but they haven’t told us (i.e. the volunteers) to start yet. It feels silly to me to get rid of them in this way that is clearly going to make a mess on the stairs but I am willing to do whatever they ask…. In my supported exploration of this dream I had the realization that the water coming up out of these coke bottles was exactly how I experience my own feelings bubbling up into my stomach, chest and mind when I let them through. I was able to go back and feel the storm of emotion coming, the feelings coming up, the instinct to clean them up and also the real possibility of not getting rid of them, of how it feels to accept them as they are. I was able to feel into the depths of what it is like to have the water coming up and not feel like it was a problem at all. This direct experience of how I relate to my own emotions, how others can react to emotions opened up tremendous space for me to experience the joy of unobstructed, unfiltered experience.
Q: Can I be taught to do this type of dreamwork on myself?
Absolutely we have the power to learn this way of opening ourselves to our dreaming life. When we are able to experience the kind of exploration that is unhindered by preconceived notions or predefined meanings, and realize again and again how our own personal dream process wants to dialogue with us then we begin to relate with our dreams from our deeper being rather than from the biased and habitual viewpoint of the conscious self. Although I have cultivated this capacity within myself over the past six years I still find it extremely helpful to have the support of a fellow dreamer to stand in the space with me, to help me explore the deeper messages of my dreaming self.
Q: How often are dreamwork sessions scheduled and what is the cost?
Dreamwork sessions are scheduled at a pace that feels right for you. I am open to working with anyone who cares about this aspect of their being and find that weekly, biweekly, or monthly sessions can all have a meaningful impact. The cost per session is $110 for 60-90 minute sessions.