How Talking About Your Dreams Can Improve Your Mental Health

Dream groups are currently trending, and it's all about making sense of your dreams.

dream group
Image: iStock

“I had the craziest dream last night!” It’s something we’ve all announced to our partner, friends or colleagues, before regaling a bizarre tale about walking through a field of daisies while eating cheese with Matt Damon. Normally, it’s met with a reaction like “ha, weird!”, before swiftly moving on to another topic of conversation. Most of us don’t really stop to dissect the meaning of our other dreams, let alone other people’s. However, this might be about to change, with dream groups currently trending in the wellness world.

What is a dream group?

While the concept of dream groups has been around since the 70s, the term was officially coined by writer Alice Robb in her book Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey. Essentially, it’s a group of 15 people or fewer who get together once a month to analyse their dreams. Members are asked to come prepared with one dream which will be dissected as a group. The sessions are normally 2-3 hours long and follow a 3-step process (Alice says you should stick to these guidelines closely).
Firstly, members will come with 200-500 word typed notes and distribute them to the group. They will then read their dream out loud, before opening the floor for specific questions about the dream ie. “What kind of cheese were you eating?” and “What were you wearing?” Alice notes that some people will ask surprising questions that seem to be of little relevance to you, because “different members of the group pick up on different layers of meaning.” For this reason, it can be a good idea to keep a dream journal by your bed so you can jot down these little details.

making sense of your dreams
Image: iStock

In the next phase, the dreamer takes the back seat while the rest of the group speculate about the dream. The group then attempts to put themselves in the dreamer’s shoes, explaining how they would feel if they had this dream ie. “I would feel so ashamed and embarrassed if I was walking around my old high school naked.” In the final phase, the spotlight is back on the dreamer as they are asked questions about how the dream may reflect on real life. For example “Is there anything going on in your life that would have triggered shame or embarrassment recently?”
making sense of your dreams
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

The ultimate goal of the dream groups is to ‘solve’ each member’s dream. It’s believed that dreams can be a powerful window into the subconscious, so analysing them may help gain closure on the unresolved issue or find solutions to issues that have been bothering you. Plus, opening up to a group of people about what is going on in the deepest recesses of your psyche is sure to be a fantastic bonding experience! As Alice says: “Just as dreams open up conversations on sensitive or embarrassing issues in a therapeutic setting, they can also facilitate intimate conversations among friends.”
Apart from private groups around the world, there are a few larger organisations opening dream groups to the public, including The Dream Institute at Berkeley University in the US and The Dream Network in Australia. But hey, if you can’t make it to one of those, why not start your own?

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