Even before the great Sigmund Freud hypothesised that “Every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance”, humankind has had a belief in the importance of dreams and their impact on our daily lives. Dreams reflect the ongoing events of our daily lives, as researcher Schredl has stated, and because of this any trauma we experience when we are awake proceeds into our dreams. Although dreams have structure to them, they do not often replay daily events as they actually happened, but covertly conceal hidden emotions and issues within vivid visual images and sometimes bizarre narratives.
Dreams do help us deal with psychological trauma simply for the fact that as our brain processes our conscious memories while we sleep our inherent self-defence mechanisms also sort out any issues we have in our lives in order to heal ourselves.
Therapists can use dreams to deal with psychological trauma by first consulting the client about their dreams and guiding them towards increased self-awareness and insight, and then second, by pinpointing any psychological issues based on traumas experienced during their lives. The latter requires interpretation of dreams.
Individuals do not always require a therapist to interpret their own dreams and become aware of the hurts and problems they have experienced. The natural function of the mind is to protect the body, and vice versa, and dreams can be like a safety valve that releases pressure and even more amazingly, applies cognitive processes that heal the mind. Therapists don’t heal the client, the client heals themselves. The mind can heal the body of psychological trauma through dreams and sometimes even physical healing is affected. An excellent new case study, Dreaming and Trauma Recovery, discusses specifically a proposed beneficial cycle of psychological and physical healing that occurs when an individual is subject to ongoing trauma.