Essential Frameworks

In my dream analysis training, I emphasize the dreamer's "global response set" as a co-creative or co-determining influence. We focus on what the dreamer feels, thinks, and does as a determining influence in the dream's unfoldment, seeing the dream as a "branching" experience--that is, one of many possible outcomes. This permits the client to view the dream as a process that mirrors the waking response to life, rather than as an event to be interpreted.

This emphasis on the dreamer's subjectivity and actions may seem overdone, especially in light of how I actually work with dreams in practice. Working with the imagery is very important to me.

What are the essential frameworks that I use? Years ago, I immersed myself in two different systems: Jung's archetypes, and the Eastern chakras. If one can acquire a sophisticated understanding of these two systems, the dream worker will possess a comprehensive backdrop to an ostensible process-oriented approach to dreams. This gives rise to a rich, relational approach that appreciates the depth and mystery of the imagery, but provides some general understandings of what the imagery might relate to.

The imagery is rarely fixed, and even if it appears to be stable over the course of a dream, we nonetheless view the imagery as "mutable" and responsive to the dreamer's changing response set. Rather than changing arbitrarily, the imagery usually fluctuates within a given category, showing regression or progression in refinement based on the dreamer's evolving or regressing responses. Since the imagery usually stays within a given category, then it is important to 1) understand the nature of that category, but 2) understand the range of possible expressions within a given category. For example, if the category is related to the third chakra (power, fight and flight), it's important to be able to work with a dreamer to ascertain the differences between "Holly, my pet cat who I had to put down recently" and "a Tibetan snow leopard." These animals occupy the same category, but the imagery obviously points to very different, client-conditioned understandings of a momentary snapshot of that influence in his or her life.

If you really want to master the Jungian archetypal system, the work of contemporary Jungians such as Robert Johnson and Marion Woodman may be more useful than the original works of Jung himself.  Or if you're like me, you may want to hear it from the "horse's mouth." Volume 9, 1 of Jung's collected works (The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious) provides a good immersion into his own thinking. As an overview, you might want to read Man and His Symbols. Regardless, eing able to work competently with shadow imagery (and having done one's own shadow work, as well) is very important. Also, you need to be completely comfortable with the anima-animus concept.

 As for an introduction to the chakras, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism is a very sophisticated approach. But Edgar Cayce's readings on the seven centers can be very useful, if also a bit abstruse.