Dream therapists analyze and interpret dreams to find meanings that apply
to everyday life. Therapists say dreams are a link to the subconscious, and
learning how to understand them is key to understanding yourself.
Dream therapists also have a personal interest in their own dreams. Some
become true psychologists or psychiatrists. They get full degrees in these
fields and then specialize in dreams during their therapy sessions with clients.
Others describe themselves as dreamworkers. They don't deal with traumatic
personal issues such as childhood abuse. Rather, they act as a guide for people
who want to explore their subconscious through their dreams.
Dreamworkers help with self-development. Psychologists and psychiatrists
who use dreams in their therapy deal with mental health problems or specific
The number of people who train in dreamwork has risen in the last decade.
Even regular medical doctors are attending dream workshops so they can better
understand their patients.
Kathleen Sullivan is a dreamworker who tapped into this growing interest
when she went on talk radio in Pacific Grove, California. Her show wasn't
expected to do well, but she soon discovered she had an avid audience.
"I got a call from the station manager the next day saying there was an
audience out there for me," she says. So Sullivan became a radio dreamworker
with an hour-long show.
Sullivan, who also belongs to the International Association of Dreams,
says people from all over the world are tuning into dreamwork. The entire
field could become significantly larger than it is today, she says.
"The dream movement is definitely coming into its own," Sullivan says.
"Carl Jung saw nothing but complete disaster unless enough people own their
shadow [dreams] rather than project it onto other cultures. And it seems as
if that's happening now."
If you're thinking of becoming a dream therapist, be prepared to face some
criticism. Sullivan says starting a dreamwork business in smaller communities
might be tough.
Sullivan says that when Gayle Delaney, a dreamworker of almost celebrity
status, appeared on Oprah, stations in Reno, Nevada, refused to carry the
show. "There are parts of America where dreamwork is still disallowed," she
If you're interested in dream therapy, it's never too early to start exploring
your own dreams. It's a good idea to keep a dream journal. While many people
claim they never dream, experts say you dream a minimum of seven times a night.
You can train your mind to recall these dreams when you wake up. You simply
need to remind yourself every night and keep a notepad and pen next to your
bed for quick dream retrieval in the morning.
Once you've recorded a number of dreams, you might notice certain patterns
starting to emerge. For instance, red cars might show up in your dreams and
then you realize you only see the red cars on days when you're particularly
stressed. Over time, you'll discover what your own dream symbols are and that
can give you insight into your subconscious.
"You're finding your inner voice," explains Alan Siegel, a clinical psychologist
who works with children and adults. "Teenagers are looking to discover who
they are, where they are going in life and how they're different from their
family. If you can learn more about the symbols in your dreams, then you can
get more of a sense of what direction to go in."
You might also want to read up on two fathers of psychology, Sigmund Freud
and Carl Jung. Both men focused significant parts of their work and research
on dreaming. Today, Jung is considered to be the master, although some dreamworkers