What happens when therapists dream about their clients?

Posted on March 5, 2014

We often dream about what we've been doing and who we've been with, so it should come as little surprise to discover many psychotherapists dream about their clients. In fact a new study reports that nearly 70 per cent of thirteen participating therapists said that they'd had such dreams.

Psychologist Clara Hill and her colleagues asked the 13 student psychotherapists to keep dream journals for the duration of the time they worked at a community clinic - either one or two years. The number of dreams recorded in the journals ranged from 6 to 150 per year, and the proportion that were about clients ranged from 0 to 0.19 (average 0.06).

The student therapists described their dreams about clients as disturbing and directly related to the therapy, often depicting the struggles involved. "Dreams appeared to function as a means for therapists to process difficulties they were experiencing in the therapy with these clients," the researchers said.

Although unpleasant, the dreams about clients appeared to be beneficial. Therapists described how the dreams of clients led to useful insights.

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Category(s):Mental Health Professions

Source material from British Psychological Society