Studio for the Healing Arts
What We're All About
Our Purpose and Philosophy
The Dreamwork Institute was founded to support the appreciation of dreams as a resource for creativity and problem solving in our daily lives. The Institute educates dreamers about the techniques available to understand the visual language of our dreams and the more objective and balanced perspective they offer over our waking life perspective..
The profound meaning inherent in our dream life has been honored universally in all cultures. Yet, in our present society, the contents of our dreams are generally not understood or valued. It is suggested that only analysts can tell us their meaning or we are encouraged to rely on simplistic “dictionaries” of dream symbols. At the Institute, we believe dreams are available and easily understood by everyone who wishes to learn their simple language.
Dream imagery and symbols are metaphors arising out of the unique life experience of the dreamer. This means that we can clarify the dream meaning for others only by holding to the maxim “If this were my dream....”. Our empathy and experienced perspective are essential, but only the dreamer can know the meaning of their own dream. This philosophy of dreamwork allows dreams to become a profound tool for personal growth and spiritual development. In this manner dreamwork at the Institute is grounded in respect for the integrity of the dream and dreamer.
The Benefits of Dreamwork
Dreams are a powerful source of guidance from our psyche which help us develop an individualized “working map” through the corridors of our life. Understanding our dreams helps us relate more intimately and effectively in family, social and work relationships. The regular practice of dreamwork deepens and enhances our respect for the spiritual ground of life.
The nightly images of our dreams are carriers of powerful medicinal energy. In modern parlance, you might consider this dream energy a "growth factor" as powerful as any hormone our body produces. For you doubters: Ask any one who has successfully worked with a dream about the surge of energy and sense of having released a major block when the meaning of their dream unfolds. In this sense, we view dream images and symbols as energies alive within us and it behooves us to embrace that energy by learning how to work with and honor our dreams.
The healing energy carried by our dreams enables us to shift our perspectives about who we are and what we need to live our life more authentically. In this sense, dreams help us to re-balance or compensate for our limited conscious point of view.
Some simple examples: We have all had dreams in which a particularly loved friend or family member appeared as hurtful or mean. Alternatively, a dream has portrayed our arch-enemy as someone with kind or compassionate qualities. In these dreams our psyche may be prompting us to expand our too narrow perspective about these people or our relationships with them. At other times, the characters in our dreams may call us to set firmer limits with our children or alternatively, to relax attitudes toward ourselves and others that are too perfectionistic--to become more playful. Our psyche is like a master artist that is constantly offering a different and more enriched view of life that we are free to paint on the canvas of our life….or to ignore.
For this reason, it is important to understand our dreams as a part of us that is closer to nature and rooted in an awareness and intelligence far greater than our waking consciousness or "rational" mind. We may love and respect our parents, church and scientific culture, but the values and perspectives they condition in us are at times one-sided, judgmental and inhibiting of our ability to love and to live our life most fully.
We can say then that when we give the benefit of the doubt to the wisdom of our dream, we open to the new, more complete perspective it offers--its purpose. When we truly embrace that new perspective and the life-giving energy it offers, we move closer to the experience of wholeness and authenticity--the benefit of listening to our dreams.
The Ethics of Dreamwork
The Dreamwork Institute subscribes to the ethical guidelines proposed by the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) as follows:
IASD celebrates the many benefits of dreamwork, yet recognizes that there are potential risks. IASD supports an approach to dreamwork and dream sharing that respects the dreamer's dignity and integrity, and which recognizes the dreamer as the decision-maker regarding the significance of the dream. Systems of dreamwork that assign authority or knowledge of the dream's meanings to someone other than the dreamer can be misleading, incorrect, and harmful.
Ethical dreamwork helps the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings, and associations, and guides the dreamer to more fully experience, appreciate, and understand the dream. Every dream may have multiple meanings, and different techniques may be reasonably employed to touch these multiple layers of significance.
A dreamer's decision to share or discontinue sharing a dream should always be respected and honored. The dreamer should be forewarned that unexpected issues or emotions may arise in the course of the dreamwork. Information and mutual agreement about the degree of privacy and confidentiality are essential ingredients in creating a safe atmosphere for dream sharing.
Dreamwork outside a clinical setting is not a substitute for psychotherapy, or other professional treatment, and should not be used as such.
IASD recognizes and respects that there are many valid and time-honored dreamwork traditions. We invite and welcome the participation of dreamers from all cultures. There are social, cultural, and transpersonal aspects to dream experience. In this statement we do not mean to imply that the only valid approach to dreamwork focuses on the dreamer's personal life. Our purpose is to honor and respect the person of the dreamer as well as the dream itself, regardless of how the relationship between the two may be understood.