Dream tending is an interactive process between the dreamer, the dream, and the dream tender (the therapist). It is not the job of the dream tender or the dreamer to decode a “message” of dream or intellectually interpret its images and symbols. As pioneering archetypal psychologist James Hillman made clear, to name a dream image, to make a dream image concrete, is to kill it. Our job is to bring to life the images of the dream, and thus honor their presence and their source, the collective unconscious that we all share.
The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul.
C.G. Jung, Founder of Analytic Psychology
In that spirit, as the dream tender and dreamer revisit the dream together in session, we come to understand the dream’s images and locations as living entities. Here we observe who wants to visit the dream with us. Who shows up now? What does this image and place and narrative action remind us of from the past? We thus come to know the dream as something no longer belonging to the dreamer but as a living, independent entity that has a unique language and whose presence will remain for as long as it is needed. It is then that we ask, “what is the dream’s desire for us?”
Even with nightmares, we can learn to confront our worst fears and images in the nightmare landscape. And once confronted and halted, we can then begin to ask and become curious about what lies behind the mask of the nightmare images that terrify us? Should we then be so surprised to find hidden something we so badly need, that heretofore has been out of reach?
Dream tending is one of the richest and most powerful tools that can be used in the psychotherapeutic process. It is the direct voice of psyche and the attendant images that are alive within us. It is our job to listen, to observe, and gain insight and wisdom.