How Does Dream Analysis or Dream Interpretation Work?

In dream pattern analysis, or dream interpretation, we focus on the context of the dream in relation to the context of the real world.  When it comes to understanding the meaning of your dreams, its all about context.  Dream analysis takes into account culture, the client’s history, the situation of the world, as well as physical laws of nature.  This means that the meaning of the dream is not subjective.  Dream work is depth psychological work- dream interpretation, also called dream analysis, is a part of psychoanalytic therapy.

Ancient Greek Study of Dreams

Artemidoris was an Ancient Greek dream diviner or oneromancer.  History considers him the first person in written history to have written a dream dictionary.  However, his dream dictionary was not a simplified this symbol equals this meaning.  He described how the symbol might play out in context of the person’s life.  He stated, “The case of a certain type of dream is both complex and manifold and admits of many different interpretations—a thing not all dream interpreters have realized. The situation and the outcome make a difference.”

Examples of Understanding Your Dreams in Context

For example dreaming about going to a concert 2 years ago and dreaming about going to a concert last spring have significantly different contexts due to the global pandemic.

Here’s another example, dreaming about swimming is very different for an olympic swimmer, a surfer, and a person who cannot swim.  It isn’t about your personal associations with the symbolism of the image, it’s about the context of the situation of the dream, life, and the dreamer.  This is why dream dictionaries don’t give the full picture.  Dreams are too complex to be reduced down to that level of simplicity.

Another key point about understanding your dreams is that they are setting up a metaphorical pattern for you to look at and often are not literal.  When we get to literal, we run the risk of dismissing them, or considering them fortune telling.  In reality, dreams are your experiences, potentials, and wounds working themselves out.  Dreams are showing you that you are ready to learn more, and really understand what is going on inside you and in context to the world around you.

The Holographic Nature of Dreams

I’ve also found that dreams can be holographic in nature.  By this I mean that the symbolism may be layered with different motifs.  Furthermore, different parts of the dream to look at the situation in different ways.  Also, dreams can build one one another over time where the themes are personally calibrated.

How to Learn More

Join me on May 15 at 11:30 online with Ella Dufrene for a hands-on art therapy experiential workshop on dreams.  If you’re reading this blog post after May 15th, you can view a recorded lecture I made on dreams here.  For more information click here.  I am also forming an online dream group so that you can work on your dreams with others.  You can learn more on my group page.  As always, I’m available for free consultations if you have more questions to see if you might want to work with me.

About the Author
Maggi Art Therapist in Columbus OH

Maggi Colwell

Maggi is a registered art therapist at Columbus Art Therapy who assists their clients to discover more of themselves through dream interpretation, art therapy, and depth psychotherapy. They specialize in working with grief and loss as well as gender exploration. Click the button below to get connected.