Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Disappearing Client

I often reflect on the strangeness of serving as a psychotherapist. It's hard to know the impact of my work, because I'm only present in their lives for a relatively brief period of time, and then I cease to be "there" after the client moves on and the record of our time together is sealed. Last night, I was blessed with a dream that relieved that sense of my estrangement from the future lives of those I have counseled.

It seems that the mother of a 23-year-old client has sent me a video of him, but he's 20 years older. I am watching him as a confident, handsome man who is working dynamically with a group of people. I am moved by how much he has evolved. Suddenly I realize that the video surrounds me--I am suddenly in it, as he comes up and greets me with warmth and affection. A man now seems to be my guide, and he takes me from room to room, where I see "advanced" versions of other clients. Their faces are recognizable, though 20 years or so in the future. The guide seems to be implying, "Now can you see the impact of your work?"

This dream probably occurred in response to a conversation I had with several interns I supervise two nights ago. I was discussing how clients are not there to take care of us, and how they will often leave without notice, causing us to wonder if they are ok, and if we have done something wrong. I told them the story of a woman who disappeared without a trace after two intense years of therapy, and then called me 10 years later to tell me how important our work had been. I did not tell her how I'd wondered for years if she was alive or dead, and that her abrupt departure left me reeling with unanswered questions. No, that was for me to deal with, no her. We were beyond the therapeutic contract, and I was simply grateful that she'd called to tell me she was okay.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

 A few days ago, I awakened at 4:30 AM, and decided to meditate. During the meditation, I received a powerful urge to write about a particular topic that has been dear to me since I was a young man. Hopeful  that the project would be meaningful for others, I went back to sleep with a sense of renewed direction.

I become lucid pretty quickly after falling asleep. I begin to search for a place to meditate. I am in a very active setting, people are everywhere, and I don't feel that I can meditate comfortably with all of the activity around me. Finally, I see a group of women working on a project, and I ask them where I might go to have a bit of quiet time. They point to a playroom that's nearby. So I go into the playroom, and it is full of toys. There is hardly an uncluttered spot, so I sweep some toys aside on the floor, and lie down on the carpet, and start to meditate, hoping that the light will come. I feel the energy start to rise in my dream body and I expect the light to come, but suddenly I find myself walking with Julie toward my old mentor Chas, who is dead. I hear him say, "You like dark wood, don't you?" I said, "I like all wood." Then, as I reach where he stands, he steps aside to reveal a beautiful wooden chest that's on the floor with its lid open. It is about the size of a suitcase. It is empty, and it's made of a wood that had the color and hue of old gold--kind of pink and gold at the same time. He is obviously happy with the gift that he had made me, and I am moved by it. I embrace Chas, happy to see him again. I start crying, and then I wake up, crying in bed, feeling grateful to have seen him. 

Now I'm wondering, What (metaphorically) should I put in the wooden chest? It was like a British campaign desk--the kind meant to be carried on journeys and used for writing.

If it were your dream, what would go in your travel chest? 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Message from a Reader, and new Paper of "Viewing the Dream as Process"

 Dear Dr. Sparrow.

I recently came across your and Mark Thurston's article in the April Issue of the I.J.O.D.R.

It was a revelation. Having spent a number of years in intense dream analysis, which ultimately proved to be impractical due to the amount of time required.
Using the PN has produced profound results and very quickly too. The reduction of the
dream events down to their essence has made many things clear right away that may not have been seen even with a great deal of analysis.
This truly is a "key" to understanding that I've been looking for. Remembering dreams comes easily now, after many years of working to remember them. But I was reluctant to return to the way I had been working with them.
The PN has opened a door and brought a whole new freshness to my dreamwork.
Am interested in becoming part of the dream group you facilitate. I've been aware of you since you were mentioned in Stephen LaBerge's "Lucid Dreaming" and subsequently purchased your book "Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light" and have read your updates to it. This latest article was so helpful I felt impelled to reach out and thank you and to learn more.
Best Wishes,

I Hope Someone Takes You In--a dream

 Sometimes the words in dreams, paired with the feelings they evoke, stay with us because they awaken such undertones of meaning. Not long again, I had a dream:

A special man was opening a practice and a crowd of people milled around outside the office. I felt how special it would be to be considered as part of his team. Even though I knew many people were eager to join him, I approached his assistant and asked her if I could apply to be a part of the team. She smiled and told me to follow her. She said simply, “I have to take you in,” and she led me through the crowd. Her words remind me of many times in my life when someone took me in, and I felt a part of something vastly important. I’m sure that the disciples of the great teachers have felt that way when they were acknowledged and accepted. I hope someone sees you, and “takes you in.”

New Paper Based on Many Worlds of Lucid Dreaming Keynote in 2021

Here's the paper recently published in the International Journal of Dream Research, titled "Discerning the Ontology of Dream Characters from the Standpoint of Co-creative Dream Theory," which was based on my keynote presentation in 10/21 at the MWLD 2nd conference.

The presentation itself can be viewed, as well, at:

First Cause of Dreaming

 I am working on clarifying the importance of the first step of the FiveStar Process. In past years, I described the first step of the FSM as exploring feelings and establishing a sense of community by sharing feelings among the dreamwork participants. But I've come to realize in the last couple of years that the first step should be an assessment of the initial dissonance that the dreamer feels, and can be felt in the retelling of the dream. Ullman was perhaps the first allude to this initial state that precedes the arousal of dreaming--a state of felt tension in sleep between the dreaming self and the emergent emotional content that announces the presence of something foreign or "other," or not yet incorporated into oneself. On this basis, I recently wrote, as a prelude to a paper I'm going to be working on: 

One might ask, what is the first cause of dreaming? What gives rise to the experience of imagery during sleep? While one cannot easily access the very beginning of the first impulse that gives rise to the phenomenon of dream imagery, we can imagine that there is some sense of tension that arises that makes necessary the consideration of a felt situation that faces us. It has been said that polarity underlies the foundation of consciousness, and that a dialectical process always precedes the arousal of self-reflection and consciousness. Jung referred to it as a "tension of opposites" that comes about through the awareness of the unintegrated, repressed, or emergent aspects of the personal or collective unconscious. That is, the tension can be seen as a product of encountering something that has not been integrated from one's past, in line with Freud's notion of resolving repressed early conflict as encompassing the course of development that awaits us. Or, from Jung’s point of view, it may arise out of the tension between the ego and the emergent archetypes, which offer an enhanced energy and consciousness as a part of the an integrated, yet to be actualized dimensions of the Self. In both cases, however the common element is a sense of otherness and strangeness and intrusiveness. Jung describe the process of incipient self-awareness as the presence of a dark messenger, which mythologically is represented by Hermes, who arises out of the depths of the unconscious with a thrust that is unwelcome but necessary for the conscious self to evolve further, either by repairing its brokenness from past shearing between persona and shadow, or by wrestling with the angels of our unheralded greatness that offers to expand the ego, at some risk of destabilization.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Significant New Developments!

After a long pause, we are finally moving forward to launch a new course on! Designed by Kim Phetteplace, our Principal Trainer, the course will feature learning to use the FiveStar Method. Th course will have a new luser-friendly ook and feel, and more short videos--all built around our innovative FiveStar Method, which is based on co-creative dream theory and analysis. We will post an announcement when the course is ready for new students.

I have been training many of my Group Counseling students at UTRGV, as well as Internship students in the Five Star Method. The internship students are currently seeing clients within my DreamStar Free Online Counseling--a service (now a 501-C3 nonprofit) created at the beginning of the pandemic to permit our students to continue accruing direct counseling hours after the close of our on-campus clinics. After having served over 600 people from around the world, DFOC will soon become the internship platform for a Certificate of Clinical Dream Analysis under the auspices of UTRGV's graduate Counseling Department.

The Certificate of Dream Analysis will be available to UTRGV students and non-UTRGV students alike, and will be built around a 3-hour online graduate course as a companion component. While I will develop the online course, I will be inviting a variety of experts in the field to provide training lectures and workshops for the students.

Who can apply? We are working on inclusionary criteria, but we are considering admitting anyone who is licensed already, or at least has a graduate degree in a mental health field. Stay tuned! I will be posting updates on the CCDA's development.

The Disappearing Client I often reflect on the strangeness of serving as a psychotherapist. It's hard to know the impact of my work, bec...