How Does Dream Analysis Work? – A Sample Case

We all have the ability to heal ourselves.

Dreams are one way we can access that ability because they provide us with information from our unconscious.

Sometimes, we have dreams that just stick with us. We can’t stop thinking about them. In fact, it seems as if these dreams are trying to tell us something.

And, yet, we aren’t quite sure what they want us to know.

But learning to understand our dreams is immensely powerful.

So, how can we find out what our dreams mean?

Dream analysis can help. It uses a variety of techniques to help interpret dreams.


What is Dream Analysis?

Dream analysis is a process of gleaning information from our dreams. To understand how it works, we first have to understand the concept of the unconscious.

Personal Unconscious

The personal unconscious refers to the things that our brains take in but then repress.
Our brains process a lot of information throughout each day. For a variety of psychological reasons, some of that information gets repressed. It is still there in the brain, but we don’t know it with our conscious minds.

Collective Unconscious

The collective unconscious is similar, except that it is a shared unconscious amongst all of us.
It is as if we have a single human mind—with information from across generations—that we can tap into. There are lessons, patterns, morals, and phobias that are common across many different people.
For example, think about the natural instinct to fear snakes. What causes this? Instincts lie in the collective unconscious. Throughout generations, our brains have learned that snakes are dangerous. Therefore, a young child knows to be scared of a snake, even if they encounter one for the first time.


In addition to instincts, the collective unconscious holds archetypes. These archetypes provide similar meanings to people across cultures. For example, the idea of the “wise elder” is an archetype.

Dream Analysis Taps into the Unconscious

Both the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious hold a lot of information. Dream analysis offers us a way to communicate with the unconscious. Though, the unconscious doesn’t use words. Instead, it uses symbols, including common archetypes, to speak with us.

A core belief in depth psychology is that human beings have the capacity to heal themselves. One way to do that is to tap into the unconscious through dream analysis.

Retelling the Dream

The first part of dream analysis is the retelling of the dream. Let’s look at a case study.

In this particular dream, the dreamer is visiting a theme park with their family. However, they tell their family that they will meet up later.

Then, they go into a medical office, where a doctor shares that their blood results are abnormal. The dreamer assumes they have cancer. However, the doctor says that might not be the case. The dreamer then exits the office.

Although it had previously been very bright outside, it is now pitch black. Slowly, the light returns, though, and the dreamer goes to a Greek or Roman style courtyard. It consists of a mandala of marble walkways and grass. There is a brick chapel with a tall white steeple.

The dreamer then goes out to the city, which has noticeable features like:

  • A spiritual quality
  • The feeling of a new city
  • Large traffic turnabout and highway
  • English signage with Arabic subtitles

Finally, the dreamer drives to a park, where they see:

  • A low circular wall surrounding a tropical garden
  • Philodendrons, particularly one large one
  • A young Indian couple embracing

The dreamer takes a stalk of the philodendron and slices it at the base. It is green, wet, and juicy inside. Though, there is a small area that is brown and dead.

Then, the dreamer wakes up feeling “at peace, energized, and spiritually blessed.”

Amplifying and Clarifying the Dream

Dream analysis digs deeper than just speaking about the dream, of course.

Some of the things the therapist and dreamer explore together in dream analysis include:

  • What does the dream mean to the dreamer?
  • Does the dream draw up an image in the dreamer’s memory?
  • What does the dreamer think about upon seeing that image?

The dreamer answers these questions to gain insight into what the dream is attempting to communicate.

Additionally, the therapist offers information about the archetypes from the collective unconscious. This allows the dreamer to see additional layers of information in the dream.

Interpreting the Dream

This dream is rich with significant information for the dreamer.

One early moment in the dream is when the doctor corrects the dreamer about cancer. It is a sign that there can be a different way to interpret events. The dreamer then moves from the darkness (the unconscious) to the light (the conscious).

Additionally, the dreamer moves between archetypes. At the beginning of the dream, there was a separation from family. Later, the dreamer moves into the city. This invokes two archetypes—mother as family and mother as city. The shift suggests transformation.

In this dream, there are also several mandalas (symbolic circles), which further suggest transformation. The circular garden and the turnabout are two examples.

At the end of the dream, the dreamer enters the garden, which is lush and beautiful. The embracing couple inside is the archetype of the sacred marriage. Cutting open the plant, the dreamer sees that despite a dead area, the stalk is mostly lush.

Subsequent to this dream, the client* divorced her husband. The dream was a premonition. There would be a separation, but the dreamer would thrive despite this wounding. She would experience transformation.

The dream brought her unconscious to her conscious in a process called individuation. Thus, she awoke feeling spiritually energized.

Of course, dream analysis requires a deep understanding of the symbolism of archetypes. Therefore, finding a skilled depth psychologist is important.

If you would like to learn more about my approach to dream analysis, please click HERE.

(*Note: This dream has been used with permission of the client to illustrate how dream analysis works.)

Leave a Reply