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Is Dream Interpretation Real?

answered 12:39 PM EST, Sat February 25, 2012
Is dream interpretation a real thing? My wife has been going to therapy and she always comes back to me and tells me about the dreams she has been having and how her therapist is helping her to interpret their hidden meanings. I am trying to be supportive but I can’t help but wonder about this. I mean it sounds a little hocus pocus to me. I do not want to question something if she feels it is working for her but I do not want her to be taken advantage of either by someone who is not really able to help her. So what I would like to know is is dream interpretation in therapy a real thing and can it actually help her?

David Johnson Says...

Dream interpretation has been a part of therapy for a century or more. Recent research has documented the dream's role in organizing our thoughts and feelings from the previous day in the context of recent experiences and our long standing understanding of ourselves. One can find some meaning in the dream story itself, or in it's interpretation. One method I've used is to imagine each person in the dream as representing different aspects of ourselves.

Interpretation of nightmares can be a very different process. It's content may carry some meaning as well in that we may be trying to become more comfortable with things that scare us a lot. However, making sense of a nightmare can be scary. There is a risk that the experience will make the fear worse which could be counter-productive. That being said, many of our fears need to be faced and mastered.

Dreams can be useful in validating our feelings, perspectives, the therapy process, and recent progress. They can provide a glimpse into our unconscious thoughts and feelings.They serve only as information about ourselves.

Dreams do not predict the future, make decisions for us, nor should they play a major role in our lives. Predatory psychics, shaman and other "helpers" over the centuries have used them to manipulate people to benefit solely the "helper".

If your wife feels the therapy is beneficial, it probably is. Predatory behavior, even when it manipulates us, often leaves us feeling unsettled and ambivalent. Our doubts serve to warn us in questionable situations. They should be taken seriously and inspire us to ask questions and become better informed.

Probably the best way to answer your concerns is to ask for a conjoint session with your wife and her therapist. Your request should be honored. Then ask your question directly of the therapist and your wife. Your concerns may just signal that you need to have a role in the therapy at this point. Speak up now.

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Page last updated Feb 28, 2012

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