Jabari Jones, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist with a private practice in NYC. One aspect of his work is teaching people to be dream interpreters.
Research has shown that we each have 4-5 dreams each night. Most of us do not remember all of our dreams, but luckily, there are simple techniques you can use to recall them. Once recalled, you can use your dreams to help you solve problems going on in your life. You can also learn how to “incubate” dreams about particular challenges — or purposefully facilitate dreams that address specific areas or challenges in your life. These incubated dreams can then guide you on how to actively solve the challenges you select.
People love dream interpretation because once you learn how to interpret your dreams, you will be able to do meaningful psychological work on your own — for free! Some people choose to learn dream interpretation on their own, however, the best way to learn is by pairing up with another dreamer or by forming a dream group.
Below is a summary outline of the steps for both dream interviewers and dreamers. Before going to bed tonight, write a couple of sentences about the day and how you feel. Then write a brief question that you would like answered and follow the steps below. You may be surprised about the answer you get!
Dream Interpreter’s Steps: The 5-Step Dream Interview
- Description: This is the dreamer’s concrete, subjective descriptive definition of the major dream images which serves to distinguish it from anything similar. One of the interviewer’s tasks is to facilitate the articulation of this concise description.
- Restatement: This is the interviewer’s reflection to the dreamer of an edited, concise version of the dreamer’s description.
- Bridge: This is the dreamer’s interpretive step of recognizing the dream metaphor in waking life, facilitated by the interviewer.
- Testing the Bridge: This is the dreamer’s verification of the parallels between the dream image and its match in waking life, facilitated by the interviewer.
- Summary: This is a review by the dreamer of the dreamer’s understanding of the meanings of part or all of a dream. The dreamer summarizes the major descriptions and bridges. The interviewer assists by paying careful attention to completeness and consistency.
Dreamer’s Steps: Dream Incubation and Recall
This is a process of pre-sleep instruction designed to focus dreaming on a specific issue, even to pinpoint a specific solution to a problem.
- Create a Dream Journal: Begin a dream journal in a notebook, such as a spiral binder or loose leaf folder, in which you will write the following notes:
- Take Notes On Your Day : Just before you go to sleep, write the date and the title: “Day Note.” Then, write a brief paragraph about the major events and feelings of your day.
- Create an Incubation Question: Now write a subtitle, “Incubation Question,” followed by a few lines about your understanding of the problem that you wish to address, paying particular attention to the related feelings. Next, being as precise as you can be, write out the specific question or issue you would like your dream to answer or clarify. Do not ask for magic; ask only what you would really like to know. E.g. Is my plan the best way for me to handle this? Why am I having so much trouble with Donna right now? Or you can even just ask for “Help!”
- Recall Preparation: Leave the dream journal, pen, and a light by the bedside within easy reach.
- Actual Incubation: Repeat your question to yourself as you fall asleep; if your mind wanders, bring it back to focus on your specific question or request. If you awake once without a dream, try it again. If you find yourself too anxious to sleep, rethink your question till it is one that you really do want to know the answer to. E.g. “Should I break up with Jordan?” could be changed to, “What does this relationship with Jordan cost me at present?” or “Why do I stay with Jordan?”
- Dream Recall and Recording : Upon awakening, immediately think back, and write down any dream, dream fragment, thought, or feeling. Then give each dream a title for easy reference. Be sure to distinguish waking ideas from dream ideas. Awaking to quiet facilitates recall.
Goodnight, and sweet dreams!
People can also download the full documents for free from the Equilibrium Dynamics [EQD] website.
1. Full Instructions for the Dream Interviewer/Interpreter found at: http://www.eqdynamics.org/files/6913/9872/6194/Dream_Interviewer_Steps_Outline.pdf
2. Full instructions for better Dream Recall and Dream Incubation found at: http://www.eqdynamics.org/files/4213/9872/6178/Dream_Interviewing_Dreamer_Preparation_Steps.pdf
The Dream Interview Method was created by Dr. Gayle Delaney.