N.1 - Dream and Group

Dreamtelling as a request for containment and elaboration in group therapy

Abstract

The traditional, intrapersonal way of working with dreams has been enriched by an interpersonal approach (Ferenczi, 1913, Kanzer 1955). Dreaming may no longer be viewed as an exclusively internal and autonomous working-trough (event) occurrence, as classical approaches suggest (Freud 1900, 1932, Meltzer 1983). Containment and elaboration of the exciting and the dreadful in dreams can be placed on a continuum from autonomous through dependent. Sharing a dream with a therapist or a therapy group may be done (unconsciously) in order both to represent the self (Neri 1996) and “use” significant others to further the unfinished psychic work of the dream. When the dreamer’s own container for the unbearable is insufficient or damaged, he may search for an external container, as he may have done in his childhood . Group participants may sometimes serve as appropriate recipients for split-off emotions, and by listening to their “echoes” all involved may be helped to integrate projections and work them through. A clinical vignette of a “dream group will be presented to illustrate how dreams leaded with unbearable aggression are contained and elaborated in the group, allowing for better integration of newcomers and threatening emotions.

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