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  • Elena Covo

Dream interpretation in therapy

As a psychotherapist and former clinical psychologist in France, I have been trained for five years exclusively in psychodynamic theories. One of the tools I have learned and found particularly powerful in my practice is dream analysis. Despite the limited studies and information available on this tool, it has proven to be immensely helpful in my work with clients.


In my opinion, dream analysis is an essential tool in psychodynamic therapy, which is a therapeutic approach based on the theories of psychoanalysis. Here’s a simplified explanation of how dream analysis works in this context:



Understanding Dreams in Psychodynamic Therapy


  1. Unconscious Mind: Psychodynamic theory, particularly as developed by Sigmund Freud, posits that much of our mental life is unconscious. This means that our thoughts, desires, and memories, which we are not aware of, can still influence our behavior and emotions.

  2. Manifest and Latent Content: Dreams have two levels of content. The manifest content is the actual storyline of the dream, the images and events you remember upon waking. The latent content is the hidden psychological meaning behind the dream. The manifest content disguises the latent content to protect the dreamer from confronting disturbing thoughts directly.

  3. Dream Work: The process by which the latent content is transformed into the manifest content is called dream work. This involves mechanisms such as condensation (merging multiple ideas into one), displacement (shifting emotional significance from important to trivial elements), and symbolization (objects and actions in dreams representing deeper meanings).



In my work with clients who are open to in-depth exploration, I suggest they write down their dreams, as the unconscious mind tends to erase some details (if not all) a few hours later. I ask my clients to share their dreams as they are, and then we engage in free association and interpretation. This exploration helps connect the dream content to the client's waking life and unconscious mind. The goal is to uncover the latent content, which can reveal unconscious conflicts, desires, and emotions.


By analyzing dreams, clients can gain insight into their unconscious mind. This awareness can help them understand unresolved issues, past traumas, and repressed emotions. Integrating these insights into their conscious awareness can lead to personal growth, symptom relief, and better emotional regulation.

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