[up] [home]

The Experiential Dream Group

Montague Ullman, M.D.

Sundance Community Journal Vol III, No 1, Winter 79. Based on an address presented before the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 1977.

It is only human to be concerned about the quality of our relationships with people who are important to us. It is the quality of the emotional tone that colors our relations with these people that seem particularly significant. Dream images are shaped by the play of our waking experience on this emotional field. When this interplay is observed in a group setting, certain interesting and, in some ways, novel features of dreaming come into focus. These features, however, are not easily recognized unless one can view classical psychoanalytic ideas about dreaming from an historical perspective and separate the enduring contributions of early investigators from the metapsychology in which they were embedded. Only then can we take a fresh look at some still obscure features of our dreams.

The Limits of Our Knowledge

A certain smugness has crept into our approach to dreams, accounted for, in part, by the ground-breaking and comprehensive account that is our legacy from Freud. His theoretical formulations have had such an enormous impact that it is no longer easy to separate what we know for a fact from the metapsychological structure he evolved to account for the meaning and dynamics of our dreams. Freud's thought was shaped by his clinical experience and focused exclusively on the dreamer's struggle with unresolved residues of his past. He saw tension in dreams in terms of conflict and resolution, the conflict originating in the inacceptability to the ego of infantile wishes derived from primitive drives.

Jung established a much broader base for his own speculations about dreams. His emphasis was on dreaming as a natural and universal dimension of human existence. He saw dreams as serving an integrative function, calling attention to aspects of the personality that were not duly recognized in the waking state. For Jung, the tension stemmed from polarities within the personality that had to be brought into complementary relationship in the interest of freeing the individual to recognize and work with all aspects of his personality. Responding to what we would now call the transpersonal nature of dreaming, Jung postulated a collective unconscious that forms part of the genetic equipment. It makes its presence felt from time to time through the appearance of archetypal symbols in dreams.

To Freud we owe a dynamic concept of the dream. Leaving aside his metapsychological schema, he provided us with a way of looking at how information that had a bearing on past and present tensions came into a dream. He recognized the role of the recent event. Although not significant in itself, the "day residue" assumes significance because of its connection to an unresolved issue from the past. The feelings associated with it seem to echo through our past, mobilizing bits and pieces of our earlier life experience related to the problem. In the course of dreaming, we bring together the relevant data - past and present - the resources at our disposal - healthy and defensive - and then try to come to some resolution.

To Jung we owe a recognition of the growth-enhancing potential of the dream and its self-confronting nature. This confronting power of the dream moves us to higher levels of personality integration by focusing not only on conflictual situations but also on our own unrealized potential. The emphasis is not on two sides of our personality warring against each other, but on the need to recognize neglected, ignored or undeveloped aspects of ourselves.

A dreamer is concerned at times with specific, unresolved problems from the past and, at other times, is more concerned with the impact of new experiences and the forward thrust of emotional growth. In either instance, the kind of waking experience that sets up enough tension to pre-empt our dreams is one that can be said to have the quality of intrusive novelty. Such experiences are novel to the extent that they hint at something unknown and unfamiliar. The nature of the novelty determines the focus of the dream. The intrusive quality stems from the connections the recent event makes with vulnerable areas from our past. The dreaming phase of the sleep cycle is then used to explore the significance of this novel experience as measured against the backdrop of earlier experiences and our available coping resources.

Feelings and Dreams

The metaphorical representation of feelings in the form of visual images is central to the dream process. Feelings seem to be a kind of connective tissue serving to link people together and providing a context or medium in which their various transactions can occur. When things are going well, this context, like the surface of the sea, is experienced in its quiet, buoyant and supportive aspects. When there is trouble, turbulence develops. Angry, troubled feelings result.

In suggesting novelty as the key aspect of waking experience related to dreaming, we are stressing the vigilance function of dream consciousness. It is the novel aspects of daytime encounters that may upset an existing emotional status quo. Any such possibility commands the dreamer's attention and makes it necessary to assess and resolve the situation. Novelty is linked to issues of personal growth in two important ways. A truly novel experience may confront us and we dream about it. We are in a new situation that we cannot ignore. The feeling of unfamiliarity evokes some tension. A variety of other feelings, such as interest, challenge, foreboding, etc., may occur. Positive feelings occur in situations involving approach behavior, such as in exposure to new experiences in art, loving or learning; more troublesome feelings are aroused when flight or fight patterns result, such as when a soldier is placed in combat for the first time. The common factor is that the reality situation presents something truly new and there is no exit. One tries, through the exploration of the past, to come up with some way of meeting the challenge.

Another way that novelty is experienced as having significance for dreaming is when the novelty is not inherent in the objective nature of the confronting situation, but rather in the way it is perceived subjectively. If the past predisposes us to see a situation as threatening, and if it manages to penetrate our defenses against it, then the sense of novelty comes from the feeling of unpreparedness in coping with it. Defensive operations have failed to protect us against this intrusive novelty. For example, we are surprised to find that what we considered judicious concern with money matters is experienced by others as selfishness. Our nighttime job may then be to explore the issue and gather the strength to face that bit of truth about ourselves. We may fail in this, in which case we try to repair our defenses.

We are not alone in the world. Any effort to undo old attitudes or to grow into new ones involves restructuring past and present emotional bonds. It is this restructuring that preoccupies the dreamer. The intrusive, novel aspects of a recent experience makes the dreamer aware that certain shifts and changes have been set in motion. There is concern with the possible implications. He mobilizes relevant information from the past to help assess the situation, as well as to enable him to cope with it. If the tensions connected with the effort remain below a certain level, the dreaming phase proceeds to its natural termination. If, however, the tension is more than can be contained during sleep, then dreaming is interrupted and awakening occurs. In terms of vigilance theory, the dreamer has recognized something new on his emotional horizon, explored its ramifications and implications, and made a decision as to whether or not full arousal is necessary.

Having established the fundamental role of feelings in relation to dreams, we can go further and examine the way in which the feeling images that appear in our dreams serve the purpose of maintaining and repairing our connections with others that are significant. The mechanism is not at all complicated. Our impact on others and their impact on us register in a feeling way, regardless of whether or not we perceive them accurately-and even if we don't perceive them consciously. The fact that they do register at some level is what accounts for the way feelings surface in dreams. We are confronted with what has truly happened. We are witnesses to the disparity between the truth and our efforts at distortion. We are, in short, confronted with a realm of honesty in ourselves.

It takes a considerable amount of cultural conditioning to maintain the illusion of our individuality and separateness from one another. After all, if we truly experienced each other as brothers, belonging to the same species, it would be difficult to justify the infinite variety of hurtful acts we commit against each other in our innocent efforts to accept and maintain an individualistic orientation. We evolve elaborate systems of self-deception to hide the basic fact of our unity. In psychotherapy we try to help people come to terms with individual systems of self-deception that limit self-realization. Nowhere do we consider the more difficult task of coming to terms with the culturally reinforced systems of self-deception that keep us on individual tracks and undermine our unity as members of a single species.

Dreams monitor the struggle to be truly human, to be truly committed to other people. The main focus for us while we are awake is separateness and individuality. While we are asleep, there is a shift of focus to the more basic state of our relatedness to others. If we consider individuality as analogous to waves in the sea-rather than as resembling enclosed structures separate from each other-then we might say that the waking state limits our view to the crests of these waves. We mistake them for discrete structures. The view from the dreaming state focuses on the troughs, the connecting medium between the crests. This is the realm of the interpersonal, and the degree of turbulence here is what most concerns the dreamer.

The dream confronts the dreamer with his status as a human being. It does so through the simple expedient of using the truth. The problem is that the truth is often too hot to handle while awake. This, too, is understandable. If dreams are an effort at healing or repairing emotional blind spots, it would be difficult for the dreamer to deal with them on his own. After all, the blind spots evolved in the first place through exposure to social influences. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect that some kind of social process will be needed to help undo it. The experiential dream group is one such social process.

The Experiential Group Process

My interest in dreams was derived from my clinical use of them. My work with experiential dream groups over the past three years has given me a different perspective. Without questioning the dream's therapeutic usefulness, I have become more aware of some of the limits of the psychoanalytic arrangement for dream work. I have also been made aware of the great need that people have to communicate with others at the level of intimacy and honesty that characterizes dream work. There are few appropriate social groupings that can respond adequately to this need. The unfortunate result is that people are left to meet these needs along individualistic lines or, when they can afford to, in the more specialized therapeutic arrangements.

Two principles govern experiential dream work. The first is that the dreamer remains in control of the process in its entirety. The second is that the group serves as a catalyst, helping and supporting the dreamer's effort to relate to his dream. No one, including the leader, assumes an authoritative stance. Theory is avoided except for a few basic, nontechnical concepts, such as the day residue, the linkages of dream images to recent and remote past, the use of a visual modality to engage in metaphorical expression, and the story-like structure of the dream in the form of the setting, the development and the resolution. The dreamer and his dream are appreciated in their uniqueness. Ideas about the dreamer's predicament are gradually generated from the immediate data offered by the dreamer and the response generated by the group.

Basic Guidelines: The process has evolved slowly and is still evolving. Essentially it consists of an interaction between the dreamer and the group. The goal is to help the dreamer experience the real, felt connections between the imagery of his dream, the events in his life that triggered the dream, the tensional context with which it deals, the way past data are integrated into the present context, the resources and limitations with which the dreamer copes with the issue, and finally, the appreciation of the artistry and creativity with which the entire drama is organized and expressed.

The group is introduced to the process with a few simple guidelines. W e remind ourselves of the fact that the dream is the most private and intimate form of communication of which we are capable. The decision to go public with material of this kind would be optional and would be motivated by a genuine desire to share and explore rather than to comply. Because work on a dream has an open-ended quality, the dreamer has the option of stopping the process at any point when the discomfort of further exploration would be too great. This would then become the appropriate point for the dreamer to deal with the dream privately in whatever manner he or she chooses (working alone, exploring it further in therapy if in treatment, or simply tabling the issue until he feels better able to cope with it).

Short and recent dreams are preferred, particularly at the beginning. A recent dream is valuable because of the importance of linking the imagery of the dream to the specific triggering life context, as well as the particular events defining that context. A short dream has several advantages. It is often, though not always, easier to work with a dream that is not too complex. From a practical point of view shorter dreams have the advantage of being remembered more easily and they require less time to work through. This makes it possible for more than one dream to be considered in a single session.

The Process: The nature of the process is explained briefly. It unfolds in three stages.

Stage I begins as a participant presents a dream in response to the leader's question: "Is there anyone who would like to share a recent dream, hopefully from this morning, and preferably not too long?" Even though there may be written notes, the dreamer is asked to tell it from memory and then fill in from notes. The group is expected to listen intently, taking notes if they wish. I encourage note taking if there is any difficulty in recalling the dreamer's verbatim account. The fact that seemingly insignificant details may turn out to be important is pointed out. Later on, the group becomes sensitive not only to the actual description of the dream but also to the relevant qualifying statements the dreamer may make in introducing the dream.

After the dreamer has finished his account, the leader may repeat the dream if he feels some of the content may have been missed by 'himself or the group. The others then have an opportunity to question the dreamer in order to clarify the content of the dream. The leader cautions the dreamer not to go beyond the manifest content in his responses.

The dreamer is then informed that his job is temporarily finished and that he is to listen with impassive attentiveness as the next stage develops.

Stage II begins as the group now takes over and responds to the question put to them by the leader: "You have listened to the dream and have experienced feelings and moods that the dreamer may have evoked. Make an effort to identify those feelings. Try to put them into words. This is an exercise in making you sensitive to the fact that dreams originate in feelings and express feelings. We are not asking for objective comments on the dream and the dreamer. We are asking for your feelings which represent where you are and how the dream affects you. Later we will check them with the dreamer and you will probably be surprised how much similarity there is between the feelings you pick up and those actually felt by the dreamer. In some instances you will pick up feelings the dreamer had but was unaware of."

As much time as is needed is allowed for this part of the process to run its course. When a member of the group starts off by saying, "You must have felt so and so," the leader reminds the group that we are now concerned with their feelings, not the dreamer's.

The group then embarks on a second task in response to the following request from the leader: "Let us now turn to the images contained in this dream. Look at them not as literal portrayals of a particular situation that has come into the dreamer's life, but as the metaphorical expression of the feelings, tensions and movement associated with the situation. In other words, let us look at the images as visual metaphors used in much the same way that a poet uses words to create poetic metaphors. Our task is much the same as a response to poetry, namely, to reach out to appreciate the range and intensity of the meaning conveyed by the metaphors. We can do this in the spirit of 'anything goes,' realizing throughout that anything we say is our own projection. These projections represent the meanings we experience around the image. They may or may not have any relevance to the meaning the image has for the dreamer." Again, it will be surprising to see how often a good deal of the group's input along these lines will not only resonate with the meanings the images may have for the dreamer, but may also open up for him the possibility of new meanings he may have only sensed before, or may not have been aware of at all.

This discussion is allowed to run its course without any sense of time pressure. The leader intervenes only to prevent anyone from "laying an interpretation" onto the dreamer instead of offering his contribution as a projection of his own subjectivity. The leader also calls the group's attention to any images that were overlooked or that received insufficient consideration during the discussion.

The leader will then often try to integrate the contributions of the group, along with his own, by a recapitulation of the manifest content of the dream, paying special attention to the sequence of images. He attempts to orchestrate the discussions, pointing out how the natural order of the images sometimes gives suggestive clues to their metaphorical content. An image that out of context might be puzzling assumes meaning when examined in the context of the preceding and succeeding images.

The group is now ready to turn to the dreamer, to hear his response to the group input and to his personal relationship with the dream.

Stage III begins by bringing the dreamer back into the picture-sometimes the dreamer has had difficulty staying out of the picture. The leader is concerned with two issues. The first is the dreamer's response to the input he has listened to from the group. The second is the elaboration of the dreamer's personal associations to the images in the dream.

Usually the reaction of the dreamer is one of surprise at how many feelings and metaphors offered by the group strike a responsive chord. In some cases the group's contributions mesh with the ideas the dreamer had about the dream. In addition the dreamer often experiences the group input as opening up new meanings to the images, meanings he had not thought of but which now seem plausible to him. When this does occur, there is a feeling of excitement and discovery. This is a true "Eureka!" feeling. Along with it comes a feeling of liberation in dealing with images that had previously mystified him.

The dreamer and the group have more work to do. The full sense of identification with the dream - ownership of the dream would be another way of putting it - comes about only when the dreamer is able to answer the question: What were the specific events in your life that shaped this particular dream to account for the fact that it occurred at that particular time in your life? For this to happen, the dreamer, with an assist from the group, must seek to discover and identify the relevant context. Often this will happen spontaneously as the metaphors suddenly spring to life. However, sometimes the specific context remains obscure and seems to elude any conscious efforts by the dreamer to get at it. We can encourage the dreamer to recall thoughts occurring just prior to falling asleep. Often these thoughts are linked to the day residue and the theme of the dream to follow.

If this line of questioning is not successful, it sometimes helps to ask the dreamer to recapitulate the events of the day preceding the dream. What starts off as rote recall is often interrupted by a sudden flash of insight. The Eureka feeling registers and the dreamer's face lights up. The excitement of the discovery always outweighs whatever embarrassment or other tensions may have been associated with the original incident.

The dreamer and the group work toward making concrete connections between the dream images, the current context and the significant points of contact of the dream with events in the dreamer's past. There is no pushing or prying by the group. They supply what they feel are appropriate, open-ended questions to which the dreamer responds with as much self-disclosure as he feels is comfortable. The process generally continues until a sense of closure is experienced by the dreamer.

The Theory of the Dream Group

More often than not a dream is remembered and disowned at the same time. It is introduced as silly, strange or confusing. The dreamer is aware that he has dreamed it but is unable to feel his relationship to it. The group functions as "midwife" to the dreamer by helping to deliver the dream into public view. Because of the insights that are sparked by the group, the dreamer begins gradually to take possession of his own dream. Once that happens the dreamer can go as far as he likes in working through the new understandings he has found. Only the dreamer determines the point at which he wishes to carry the process on privately. Midwives help in the delivery, but they don't raise the child.

When a dream is shared in a group, there is an unacknowledged understanding that something both precious and fragile has been entrusted to them. Being privy to the realm of another's humanity, we encounter our own. Trust and tenderness are generated. There is a sense of tapping a common bond. There is a recognition of familiar terrain and a surprising ability to empathize with the dreamer. It becomes a healing experience for the group as well as for the dreamer.

In our dreams we struggle against fragmentation and move toward wholeness. Dreams are a naturally available path toward emotional healing. That they require a social process for the healing to take place should cause no surprise. Moving through fragmentation and blocks can occur only when favorable social arrangements are at hand. The relationship between the waking and the dreaming self is a kind of "Catch22." We can be more honestly self-confronting while asleep. When we are awake and have the opportunity to benefit from this honesty, our old expedient self takes over. Truth often has a hard time when expediency has the upper hand. The healing power of the dream rests solidly on the truth it embodies and the self-confrontational power of the images used to convey that truth.

The other members of the group can relate to that truth more readily than can the dreamer. This begins to happen as they become sensitive to the feeling tones they pick up. They are then guided by those feelings into exploring the range of possible metaphorical meanings suggested by the images. This results in a number of hits and misses. The dialogue with the dreamer is essential in order to sharpen, define, and personalize the experience.

What happens is not easy to put into words. Just as there is something ineffable about the dream, there is something ineffable about the process by which the group helps disclose the dream to the dreamer. The members of the group are not operating from any particular theoretical base. They are trying to tune in to the common grounding that supports them as well as the dreamer. By moving into this matrix, they help the dreamer discover his connections with it. No matter how upsetting a dream may be, there is some relief in making the issue visible. The relief is not necessarily based on the resolution of the problem, but on recognition as the first step toward a resolution. Issues and predicaments that we dream about don't disappear because we don't attend to them. Movement begins with recognition of their existence.

The healing dimensions of dreaming become more apparent as the images come into focus. Troublesome predicaments, tensions, and challenges arise during the day (with greater or lesser frequency and intensity, depending on how vulnerable we are). They block, impede or deflect the flow of energies and prevent proper contact with energy systems beyond our own boundaries. In his book, Foundations for a Science of Personality, Andras Angyal refers to this striving on the part of all living systems to transcend their own boundaries and to be part of something larger than themselves as the trend toward homonomy. This is in contrast to another important trend, namely, that toward autonomy, in which the concern is with maintaining the integrity of our boundaries. As the group listens to a dream, they respond to the echoes of difficulties they may have experienced in trying to realize their own homonymous needs. The focus shifts from the individual to the commonality of human needs and the vicissitudes to which they are subject. Dream work moves us into the homonymous domain by shifting attention to the way we are living out our membership in a single species. It is this special quality of the dream that pulls the group into the dreamer's life and brings out helpful group responses without engaging the dreamer in any defensive struggle.

We do not have the language to speak more concretely of this particular quality of dream life. The use of terms like transpersonal, spiritual, etc., touch on two aspects of it, namely, the beyond-the-person component and the inspirational and unifying feeling tone to the experience. Our perspective shifts radically as we begin to look at dreams from this perspective. We begin to see the dream as more than a reflection of an immediate and particular predicament and appreciate its more general function of monitoring our ties to other human beings. This concern with connectedness mobilizes the group's interest and sensitivity to the dreamer's struggle. In our dreams we strive to recognize, explore and offset the corrosive impact of waking life on our humanity. Because of this, the style and intent of the dream group is quite different from most other groups, especially encounter groups.

In an encounter group each person is held accountable for whatever he brings to the group. The group has the right to make demands on the individuals in order to clarify and expose manipulative or exploitative trends. The behavior of each participant is subject to group challenge. Individual members are there to find out about their interpersonal strategies. The group is there to help by confronting them and by defending itself against manipulative and acting-out behavior.

In the experiential dream group the individual is not in the position initially of taking responsibility for the message of the dream he is presenting to the group. He is sharing an unknown and potentially vulnerable part of himself. The group responds to this special kind of disclosure with concern, consideration and respect for the vulnerability of the dreamer. Operating within the process, they try to help the dreamer come to a felt sense of closure, using every means possible short of forcing the issue. The group tries to help the dreamer see the issues he is raising with himself and guide him toward a resolution at his own pace and in his own way.

Appreciation Versus Interpretation: The Relationship of Experiential Dream Work to Therapy

A work of art is rooted in feelings and becomes part of the common heritage because of the truth it embodies about man or nature. It defies interpretation but yields to appreciation. Interpretation is limiting and restricting. It has the effect of closing off other responses. Appreciation is unifying, open-ended, and sets off a widening circle of reverberating responses. We ordinarily speak of interpreting dreams. Certainly in the professional context the therapist seeks to work out the interpretation.

I feel more comfortable with the concept of appreciation rather than interpretation of dreams. I think that dreams have more in common with art than with science. Scientific pursuits result in the isolation and definition of facts. Dreams originate in feelings. There is no way of capturing the quality and intensity of feelings in any other medium. Hence, there is no way to set their limits by interpretive closure. The images we produce in our dreams are only the best approximations we can come up with for capturing the feelings they are trying to convey. The words we use to say things about the images are, in turn, limited in what they can say about the image. This is why it is important for the group to be sensitive to their feeling responses to the images before they struggle cognitively for possible meanings.

It is most important to identify the real life context out of which the dream arose. This can usually be defined with a certain specificity as can the related life events of the past that are referred to in the dream. It is the felt meaning, or feeling tone accompanying these connections, that reaches the dreamer. Their power and intensity set off reverberations that spread through his being. The use of the term interpretation seems too closely linked to the more limited cognitive aspect of the experience. The concept of appreciation emphasizes the feeling identification with the forces at work as dynamic, open-ended aspects of being.

A number of features of experiential dream work distinguish it from the therapeutic approach in the dyadic situation.

The time factor: Working with dreams has a rhythm of its own. It requires an available expanse of time. It cannot be hurried any more than the appreciation of a painting or a symphony. In the group the sole focus is on the dream, and the time available to pursue it is open-ended. In the therapeutic situation the available time is less (usually one hour as compared to two or more hours for the dream group).

The diversity of input: The metaphorical meaning of most dream images is not immediately apparent. Some kind of catalytic activity is needed to expose the dreamers to the range of possible meanings their images convey until one or more of them touch off a responsive cord. It is this kind of helping activity on which the group embarks. Regardless of how sophisticated any one person may be about dream work, the fact is that the range and variety of input from a group is far richer than that of a single individual. The group does not have the same need for dissemblance that the dreamer has in the pursuit of the metaphors of the dream.

The absence of authority: The entire process takes place in an egalitarian atmosphere. The leader does not stand apart from the group. He shares his own dreams and through them his own humanity. The flattening of any hierarchical arrangements lowers the tension level of the dreamer and minimizes any transference effects. It also works against any need for the dreamer to maintain a defensive or resistive stance.

De-professionalizing the process: The absence of allegiance to any technical or theoretical system combined with the avoidance of jargon of any kind conveys to the participants a sense of the normality of the experience. The group develops a feeling of competence as they join in the give and take of the process. The leader is seen as a guide rather than a specialist whose knowledge and authority overshadows others in the group.

Control remains in the hands of the dreamer: The dreamer makes the decision to share a dream. The dreamer's felt response to the group's input is paramount. The dreamer decides on how much self-disclosure feels comfortable and can stop the process at any point to carry on the process privately. The control of the process thus remains in the dreamer's hands from beginning to end. This provides considerable cushioning for the dreamer and also has the effect of minimizing any resistances.

Response to a challenge: A dream set before a group is a mystery to be solved. The listeners experience it as a challenge and it is usually accompanied by a sense of excitement. There is a playful relationship to the images even when the content may appear oppressive. Fun and joy are part of the discovery of the subtlety, elegance and aptness of the metaphorical meanings of the images.

Summary

The experiential dream group is designed to help people connect with the ever-available, though underutilized, healing potential of the images they create while asleep. Although the goals of such a group are healing and growth, the dream group differs in strategy and structure from a therapeutic group. The dream group assumes a facilitating rather than a therapeutic role. The leader is concerned with the integrity of the process and acts as a guide who leads the group through the process. He is not there as an expert by virtue of his specialized knowledge. The dreamer is the only expert about his dream. The assumption is that, if a dream is remembered, the dreamer is ready at some level to deal with it. The fact that he cannot deal with it alone does not mean that he is not ready. He needs a responsive and supportive social system within which to realize his own state of readiness. When that system is available and responds in a helpful way, he is then able to move at a rate that is right for him. Waking experiences have challenging as well as corrosive effects on our common humanity. Dreams provide us with a way of registering those effects and confronting ourselves with them. Since these effects, to begin with, are social in origin, it takes a social arrangement to help explicate the nature of the confrontation and deal with the tensions and anxieties that are evoked by it.

The dreamer moves in stages from an initial point in the interpersonal field experienced as a tension between himself and others to a personal representation of this tension and its background in the form of developing dream images. Upon awakening, there is a shift to the personal and often bewildering view of the dream from the waking position. When circumstances are favorable, the cycle can be completed by moving on to an exploration in an interpersonal setting and, finally, to an appreciation by the dreamer and his helpers of the transpersonal nature of the experience they have shared. To come closer to others is healing. This is the message our dreaming self conveys to us nightly.