Dream Case Study

Tsunami Dream Case Study

I had a wonderful vignette happened recently: a woman rang and she wanted to work on a dream over 1 – 2 sessions and would that be OK? I said yes of course as I love working with dreams. Andrea came (she was small, bright, articulate, in her early 30’s with some Chinese heritage) and told me about a series of tsunami dreams that she has had over the last 5 years that make her really anxious (I’m wondering what happened 5 years ago?). She got married and has a 2 year old daughter (Aha I think – there’s a tsunami of feelings around that situation). I asked her to choose a dream and tell it and there is some confusion for her as all the dreams are very similar but each has a uniqueness, so I ask her to choose that last one which happened last week and prompted her to call me. She told her dream and we drew the main scene which was the big wave coming – a wall of water – on the page. I said where are you and she took another sheet and drew herself running up a hill gathering her daughter, husband, Mum and Dad, 2 -3 friends with her to flee the danger…they were just above the tip of the wave heading for a building above them.

I invited her to speak from her in the dream and she felt terror but more taken with being responsible for the safety of everyone (I’m wondering of this was the tsunami of responsibility and doing?). I asked her to be the others and they were frightened etc but trusted Andrea and getting to safety (good – seems to have trust in keeping herself safe). I asked her to be the wave and she found that a difficult one to be…she has little concept of her own power and big energy (which I can see. She has a job with the council implementing programs for special needs groups and I imagine she’d be very effective. They had given her 2 years off to have the baby which is unusual in local government – they usually only give 1 year maternity leave. They want her back! But she doesn’t see this as significant or of her being special). So here we have someone who takes responsibility, does a lot for others and doesn’t consider her worth …or is she scared of a part of herself maybe the powerful part/ the Critic?…(no she didn’t think so). Could it be being a girl and part Chinese that she carries the burdens of generations of discrimination and murder of girls?(I didn’t ask this as I felt it was jumping ahead).
I felt we hadn’t got to the core of the work and shared with her that and she agreed. Most musings had been around thoughts she’d processed before as she’d seen a few psychologists about this before coming to see me. I invited her to put the two pictures together and just see how that felt as she looked at them…to go with her body feeling. She looked for a long time and seemed quite sad and said she felt a lot of grief (ah I think a tsunami of grief?).  I asked her where and she touched her heart and said there was pain around her heart and I invited her to stay with that. She then had her hand on her heart and looking down and….fell off the couch! She lay in foetal position on the floor and said “Just leave me alone. I want to be quiet.” I waited for a while and then sat down next to her and asked her what it was like down there and she said she felt OK calm – giving herself some space and “letting it all wash over me”. Maybe the collapsed place was what she was yearning for? It was an unfamiliar place for her as she was such a doer. She was on the floor for about 10 minutes and then sat up and her eyes were bright and she looked different – more relaxed. We had to finish in 5 minutes so to complete the session I asked her to put herself in the picture now and she then drew herself in foetal position after the wave had passed.
I had to leave the next week to a prearranged reunion overseas. While I was away she texted me that she had had another tsunami dream and this time she couldn’t flee so she went “with the flow expecting to drown or die but I ended up letting it flow over me and I’m still here. I’m alive! I’m alive!” I was so happy. She has come back to see me so we can work on the triggers for the danger dreams and some self soothing and meditation practices.
I think dreams hold such a deep insight into the character of the person. In working with them we avoid all the usual defences and creative adjustments that come up from early trauma and get to the core of the person’s issues quickly. It can also feel a lot like constellation work in that old messages handed down from generations are revealed as themes. I love the pictorial nature of them and that there is a special scene and often associated feelings come through so easily when we explore them. So often there is confusion and then the Aha as the elements are worked through the felt senses and an inner wisdom emerges. Aha!

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