I have always been interested in dreams, and had the good fortune to attend a Dreamwork Retreat in 2014. At the retreat I heard participants speak of the effects of engaging in Dreamwork--comments such as, "it saved my marriage", and "I have a better understanding of myself, I've found my voice and can set boundaries". As a result of seeing the effects of Dreamwork in myself and others, I decided to do a research project for my Masters Thesis about Dreamwork and how it affects people.
What my research found...
I discovered the importance of dreaming for mental health (based on many years of scientific research), whether or not one chooses to work with one's dreams. My research found that when people DO choose to work with their dreams, they are affected in many and diverse ways, including:
Outer changes, such as how they interact with others (more understanding, setting boundaries, better communication, being present), and physical changes (not needing medications for anxiety or depression, and reduced pain) were experienced.
Inner changes included an increased acceptance of self, insights into feelings and behaviours, and understanding of others. For example, "I used to put blame on myself, and my dreams showed me how ridiculous that was", and "I can relate to my spouse and kids better, I can feel more empathy", and "I have less guilt, responsibility, shame, and doubt in my life".
Many of the effects were felt to be significant by the participants, and brought about changes in their lives.
How is Dreamwork Done?
To engage in Dreamwork, it is best to write down a dream (or more), either experienced recently or in the past. The dream doesn't have to be a long one--as people pay attention to their dreams, they become easier to remember. You will be guided through an exploration phase of your dream(s), which often leads to insights, and from which an action plan can be made. Sometimes, it is helpful to do artwork when working with a dream--this can be included in the work we do as well. Each dream and dream symbol is unique to each person--Dreamwork is a process of figuring out what your dreams are telling you.