What Secrets Could Dream Therapy Tell You?

By Robert Porter|Updated June 27, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

Dreams have the potential to be very interesting and provide us with some insight into our subconscious. If you are the type of person who vividly remembers your dreams, then you may have questions about whether or not they mean anything. Some people wind up dreaming some pretty off-the-wall things, leaving them to wonder, "What was that all about…?" Partially because of this, there is a type of therapy out there that is entirely dedicated to dreams.

Dream therapy is devoted to interpreting dreams and exploring them as thoroughly as possible. If you can seek out a qualified dream therapist, then they will be able to analyze your dreams for you to help determine certain things about your life. Your dreams are potential indicators of certain types of stress in your life, as well as how your brain is processing and dealing with life. There can be many benefits to trying to decode your dreams properly if you are willing to give it a shot.

Understanding dreams could very well open up new possibilities and perspectives for you. If dreams are your subconscious trying to tell you things that you're unconsciously burying or trying to sort through certain feelings, then it makes sense to pay attention to them. Discovering certain sources of stress and being able to eliminate some problems in your life through dream analysis doesn't sound like a half-bad way to spend an afternoon.

Many of the benefits of dream therapy will be analyzed in this piece, and you will walk away much more informed on the topic. Many different counselors utilize dream therapy, so this is something that you can fairly readily take advantage of if you want to.

Dream Therapy: Symbolism is Very Prevalent in Dreams

Could Your Dreams Be Trying To Tell You Something?

While sometimes dreams are just dreams, symbolism can exist, particularly if your brain is trying to sort through something going on in your life. Sometimes you may not know what something means when you first dream it. It might wind up being something bizarre, and it could cause you to scratch your head as to why you would be dreaming of something so seemingly strange and random. Often, the things that you dream about are symbols that reflect your brain trying to process a particular event, be it just the day's events or a childhood occurrence. Studies have found that sleeping and dreaming actually help us to organize and store away memories and thoughts, which can often show up as fragments in our dreams.

One common and sometimes scary dream involves people losing their teeth or having their teeth somehow become twisted or malformed. It can be very unnerving when you have a dream like this, and it is a dream that many people report having somewhat regularly. Dream therapists mostly agree that dreams like this are symbolic of worrying about your appearance. If you have a fear of losing your attractiveness or becoming old, it may manifest itself in the form of these dreams.

If you would like to try to interpret your dreams yourself, then looking at symbolism or meaning in your dreams is a good place to start. Having a dream in which you are continually falling may be symbolic of the fact that you do not feel like you are in control of your life. Dreams in which you are lashing out angrily can be a sign of pent-up frustration that you are not addressing properly in your real life. Dreams often have meanings, and it can be beneficial to try to pay attention to them.

Some commonly asked questions about this include:

  • How do dreams actually work?

The brain cycles through four stages of sleep. Stage 1, known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM), is a light sleep. As you move into Stage 2, you become more relaxed in preparation for Stage 3, which is another NREM cycle. This cycle, however, is so deep that you don't perceive anything going on around you. In Stage 4, you hit REM, the rapid eye movement period in which you engaging in lucid dreaming: good dreams, bad dreams, they're all there. A traumatic event from your past may show up as a nightmare. Dreaming is a way to make sense of our waking lives; we think about our sleep during our waking hours.

  • Is dream therapy a thing?

Looking at a site like Dream Dictionary can be entertaining, but the dream content appears in silos - separate suggestions for each item. Any interpretation of the objects' connection to each other does not exist. A therapist can help interpret dreams by helping you identify the things and analyzing them for their connection to each other and your subconscious. It's possible to discover a connection to a traumatic event requiring further exploration. 

  • What are the main components of dream therapy?

Dream interpretation often begins with the patient's collection of dreams. A therapist may ask the patient to record their dreams and share the collection in a session. The therapist asks about the concrete aspects of the dream: for example, a long winding road, trees, and a red sports car. Then the therapist will discuss the symbolism of these objects (freedom, peace, power); this is called the latent dream content. This analysis of the dream's symbolism -- its meaning -- may reveal the patient's deepest desires or point to challenges, especially if it's a recurring dream.

  • What is dream analysis technique? How do you use dream therapy?

Dream therapy work consists of exploring the symbolism in dreams and nightmares. Dream therapy goes deeper into the dreams and their connection to trauma. Therapists use a technique called image rehearsal therapy (IRT) to help clients access memories stored in the brain for re-scripting the outcome, either directly or indirectly. Because the imagery is often non-verbal and visual, creative play is often part of the sessions. IRT can be helpful for people experiencing symptoms of traumatic stress disorder. 

  • What is a dream therapist called?

A dream therapist may also be known as a sleep and dream expert. In the same way, mental health professionals who practice lucid dream therapy are trained in techniques like image rehearsal therapy to help patients understand what their dreams mean.

  • How long is dream analysis therapy?

Dreams play a critical role in storing memories and overcoming the most traumatic ones. Just as dreams are always most relative to the dreamer, the length of dream therapy treatment must be relevant to patient goals and expected outcomes. In short, the length of treatment varies. 

  • How much does dream analysis cost?

Psychologists charge an average of $175 per session; licensed dream therapists are far more affordable because they charge approximately one-third of a psychologist's fee. The length of therapy required depends on what outcomes have been identified. Fortunately, no one is limited by geographic location to finding an affordable therapist. BetterHelp can connect you to more than 20,000 therapists from which to choose.  

  • Do psychologists analyze dreams?

Psychologists like Calvin S. Hall have analyzed dreams for nearly seven decades. In the twentieth century, Dr. Hall came to the conclusion that our vivid dreams are indications about the human condition. He wasn't the only pioneer in the field of dream interpretation. Although his work largely depended on case studies, Sigmund Freud came up with the idea that dreams rise up from our unconscious. Our brain tells us in sleep what it cannot say during our waking hours.

Finally, one of the more frequently asked questions we get is, "Can a dream change your life?

For people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the answer may be "yes." Nightmares are a common occurrence for people who have been diagnosed with PTSD. These trauma-based dreams that disturb restful sleep are subconscious indicators of unresolved issues that could indicate mental health issues.  

Additionally, IRT dream interpretation may help you prepare for future challenges by exploring the significance of some of your most vivid dreams, including a recurring dream, as a way of making sense of what's going on around you. 

Your Dreams Likely Reflect Your Current Mood or Situation in Life

It is not uncommon for people to have dreams that reflect their current moods or circumstances in life. This may not always be the case — but it is considered normal. If you have a large presentation for work or school coming up, feelings of anxiety may pop up in your dreams. Sometimes what you are dreaming about may even give you some insight into how you feel about your life at the moment.

Sometimes it is difficult to say how you feel about something. You go through the motions in life and stay so busy that you do not have time to reflect on things every single day or don't prioritize doing so. Your dreams will sometimes act as a way for your mind to sort through what is going on in life. If you are sad, then that sadness may be processed and exhibited in your dreams. If you have had someone in particular on your mind, then they may show up subconsciously in your dream. This is part of what makes dreams so fascinating: a sort of window into both our biology and psyche that scientists are trying to better understand.

Analyzing such things may require some expertise. It is possible to try to figure out some basic things about your dreams on your own, but taking the time to discuss these dreams in detail with a licensed counselor may be helpful. It can give you a chance to think more deeply about your feelings and how certain things may be connected to your life.

Nightmares Might Be a Sign of Issues That You Need To Work Through

One of the biggest reasons people seek out dream therapy is that they have some recurring nightmare. When you are experiencing nightmares regularly, it is likely a sign that you have issues to work through. Sometimes the nightmares will be obvious, and you will be able to pinpoint what is bothering you. Other times, you might find the nightmare to be more symbolic or ambiguous.

These nightmares can make you feel off, and you should not shy away from reaching out to a therapist if you want help understanding the nightmares or learning how to be less impacted by them. They have the training to help you analyze these nightmares and figure out what may be causing them. Simply discussing the issue with a counselor is a great way to make some progress — and hopefully find and address whatever is causing the unpleasant dreams to recur.

A trained dream therapist knows what to look for in a dream. They will be able to ask you questions about the dream, how it makes you feel, and any other pertinent details. Once they have enough information, they should be able to provide some insight into things that may be bothering you and help you to work through them.

Dreams feel very real when they happen, so knowing that feeling perturbed by a nightmare is very valid. This can be an opportunity to address something in your life that has been buried in your subconscious. It's important to take the time to go through the therapy as long as you are capable of doing so.

Dream Therapists Will Likely Encourage Dream Journaling

It is also very likely that your dream therapist will encourage you to keep a dream journal. A dream journal is a place where you can write down the details of your dreams. It is usually best to keep the journal right by your bed so that you can reach it immediately once you wake up before you have a chance to forget your dreams or the way you felt about them. Writing down your dream quickly is important because you do not want to forget details.

If you do not consciously think about your dream within a few minutes of waking up, you will typically lose the ability to recall that dream. Dream journaling is a very important tool for gaining insight into your dreams and training yourself to remember them in more detail as time goes on. If you are going to be doing dream therapy sessions, then you should try to keep a detailed dream journal that you can share with your therapist if you feel comfortable doing so.

Dream journaling can be great for the creative process as well. If you are an artistic or otherwise creative individual, then you may notice some benefits from dream journaling. Due to the often interesting and bizarre nature of dreams, utilizing a dream journal could help you channel new facets of creativity within yourself. You may want to consider dream journaling even if you are not interested in dream therapy.

Online Dream Therapy is Very Convenient

Could Your Dreams Be Trying To Tell You Something?

Online therapy may be the most convenient way for you to discuss your dreams with a trained professional. If you have been wondering about your dreams and need some help figuring things out, then you should not hesitate to reach out to a therapist. While online therapy has been gaining steam over the past couple of decades, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a whopping 75% of therapists utilizing online therapy, a trend that is likely to continue beyond the pandemic. That's because online therapy has been found to be just as effective in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a range of other conditions as in-person therapy.

Being able to talk to a therapist online is as convenient as it gets. You can typically message the therapist whenever you want to do so, and you can arrange live session appointments via a call or video. This is a cost-effective and easy way to begin dream therapy. Not only will your therapy give you insight into dreams and what they mean, but it can also be beneficial for your mental health if that’s something you’re looking for. BetterHelp’s  licensed therapists will be able to help you with any issues that you are experiencing. See below for some reviews of our therapists from people seeking help with understanding their subconscious and, therefore themselves.

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