This is a
revised version of the article "So You Want a Career in the Field of
Dreams?" which was originally published in Electric Dreams April 1999.
First the bad news.
There was more money made last weekend on the
latest blockbuster movie
than all the money made by all the dreamworkers since Freud wrote the
of Dreams a hundred years ago in 1900.
Gayle Delaney, one of the big and early movers in
dreamwork, has said
that no one yet has really made a living doing just dreamwork, they
have to combine this with financial support from other sectors. And
been on Oprah and Donahue, written tons of books and traveled with her
dream show world wide, she should know! Dream science has always been
during the off hours of the labs. Aserinsky and Kleitmann, who brought
REM or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep to public attention, did their work on
dreams during their off time, late at night in the labs at the
Without full time dreamwork professionals, how
does the field evolve?
People do other things. Here are some of the most popular
||Psychology. Especially Jungian
psychology, which has a heavy
dream focus. Most dreamworkers have lots of mental health training and
many are psychotherapists.
||Publishing and Lecturing and Workshops.
Books are the main contact
source for the dream worker and the more successful dreamworkers are
giving seminars, lectures, workshops, conference presentations and
as much air time as possible. Most are still neglecting the Web, but
progress is being made. There are some writers who use dreams as
devices in their books and screenplays. There are a few scholars who
about dreams, but not many.
||Science and Medicine. Sleep disorder
clinics and clinicians
are on the rise, though dream specific research is on the decline. The
focus here is on problems with sleep and some work can then be done
dreams through the backdoor of nightmares and other dream related sleep
||Religion. As Ron L. Hubbard once
said to the editor of Analog
Magazine, "Heck, all the money is in religion!" There has yet to be a
of Dreams, but I suspect we will see them in the 21stCentury. More
pastors and priests and ministers take up dreamwork as an adjunct to
counseling. Note for instance the success of Jeremy Taylor, who is a
minister and now has a full workshop and dream tours schedule. However,
this came after 20 or more years in the trenches. Read what he has to
in the article below about becoming a non-traditional dreamworker.
dreamwork is becoming more popular as self improvement often includes
||Lucid Dreams. This seems to be
almost its own category of dreamwork.
Stephen Laberge has done the most to make lucid dream technology,
and psychology a life's profession. The topic continues to draw lots of
attention. Still, because the skill takes so much discipline to
the seminars, workshops and technology associated with lucid dreaming
somewhat esoteric and limited.
||Anthropology. Many people in the
dream field are anthropologists.
They study not only what other cultures have to say about dreams and
but our own as well. They look at how the dream and dream
function in the culture and what the mean to the individual in this
Educational Needs of a
Courses specifically. (Well, some of these you
might have to get outside
of most institutions):
||Jungian psychology. Get a lot of
this. Read all you can on your
own. You might want to start with Jung's memoirs, Memories, Dreams and
Reflections. But I also like the illustrated Man and his Symbols. I
think there is a richer system of dreamwork on the earth., and most of
what is used today in groups and by individuals stems from the work of
||Other psychologies: Ask for the
basics and history. Freud, Adler,
Jung, Maslow, Sullivan, Erikson, even Skinner. But also look into
psychological practices as well, such as the gestalt school and
Perls, the process theorists Arnold Mindel and Eugene Gendlin, the
of Montegue Ullman, and the critiques of dreamwork by James Hillman.
to get as close to having a session with them as possible. That is, try
to get hands-on knowledge of these practices. Obviously this isn't
for many as they are dead, but move from the generalizations about them
to finding out what an hour with them was actually like, what a weekend
seminar transfers in skills, what a course with their students entails.
If you can afford therapy, try out different kinds of therapy yourself.
It is VERY important to get as close to first hand experience as
If you get deeply into psychotherapy already, but not getting enough
I find the Object Relations therapies quite interesting and a way of
forward classical psychotherapy. Kohut and self-psychology forms a
between object relations and human potential and wholeness oriented
I highly recommend Raymond J. Corsini's
Current Psychotherapies for
a quick journey into several types of therapies at the experiential
Fossage and Loew put together a comparison of dream therapies in Dream
Interpretation, A comparative Study second ed 1987. Its a little dry,
interesting. A more exciting new comparison is Anthony Shafton's Dream
Reader. Also, Gayle Delaney has a good comparison dream book called New
Directions in Dream Interpretation.
||Anthropology. Much of dreamwork has
a cultural component. Exposure
to alternative cultures allows for a wider grasp of individual issues
offers a unique way to find a context for dreams. On dreams &
read Barbara Tedlock's (1987). Dreaming: Anthropological and
Interpretations. Cambridge University Press. Also, Devereux, George
Reality and Dream: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian. Garden City, NY:
||Literature. I feel that getting the
sense of what writing and
literature is about has helped me with dreams. Interpreting stories is
something the fields share in common, and they enhance one another.
are often interpreted using literary criticism's techniques, not only
simple dynamic structures of plot and character, but the more elaborate
philosophies of criticism with investigate the psychological and
forces in all narratives. In Dreams, See Jones, Richard (1979). The
Poet. Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing Company and States, Bert O.
Rhetoric of Dreams. London: Cornell University Press.
||Religion and Mythology: This could
be under anthropology or
literature as well. Both religious studies and mythology look at
that struggle with the creation or understanding of the meaning and
of life. Be sure to read Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God. There are
several in the series, all great. I would read Mircea Eliade's The
of Religious Ideas as well, also a kind of mythologically based text.
through on religious studies to the esoteric/ mystic side of the
We hear a lot of horror stories about Islam in the West, but we rarely
hear about the fabulous Sufi traditions. Again, be sure to check out
Jung on his rendition of Christianity and Western religions.
||Philosophy: while philosophy has
done very little in its investigation
of the world of ideas to explore dreams, I find it invaluable in the
of dream techniques and where they are coming from. All forms of
are motivated by other ideas and powers. To the degree that we learn to
be conscious and aware of these, we won't as often fall prey to being
victim of the idea. Also, being able to deeply question the assumptions
and categories we live by is very similar to a lot of dreamwork which
||Science. Understanding the functions
of dreaming used to be
clearly separated into those who wanted a clear biological answer and
who wanted a psycho-spiritual answer. Now the fields mix and blend and
having a good background in biology, physiology, chemistry, and so on,
can help in sorting out the psychological from the physical. We used to
think about schizophrenia, for example, in moral terms. Something was
with the person in that they failed to use their will power to come up
to snuff and therapy involved getting them back on the right road of
reality. Now we know that there are terrible chemical imbalances, many
genetically informed. Therapy may still involve helping the person
to reality, but it no longer assumes the person is *trying* to be
In dreamwork, we may make use of a nightmare to investigate some deep
path, but its also important to check out the physiological components
and influences. The more science we have, the better we can refer these
clients to appropriate care.
Advanced degrees in dreaming are rare but
available. JFKU has a Dream
Certificate Program for its Consciousness Studies program and some
institutes like Haden offer advanced training. The Association for the
Study of Dreams offers CEU Continuing Education Units at its
Some graduate schools will allow for creatively designed advanced
in dreams. See for example John F. Kennedy University (JFKU) http://www.jfku.edu/site/?pg=holistic_is_dream
as well as the Saybrook Institute. http://www.saybrook.edu/
and Pacifica Graduate Institute http://www.pacifica.edu/
For other organizations with graduate level
courses, see the ASD Graduate
Studies List and the DreamGate Library Education page. http://www.asdreams.org/subidxedugraduatestudies.htm
In summary, a career in dreamwork is usually
attached to a career in
another field. And yet, the well-rounded dreamworker will have some
and knowledge in all of these fields.