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Archive for May 2011

Understanding Your Dreams: Part 1-Identifying Different Types of Dreams


Darlene Kirtley 5/21/11


We spend many years of our lives dreaming, but what exactly are we accomplishing during our dreamtime?  Some say dreamtime is a way for our minds to download and de-clutter our mental computer.  Some believe dreams are deeply meaningful and spiritual events.  Others believe dreams convey messages from our subconscious that touch upon what is too threatening to accept into our conscious awareness. Still others believe dreaming is nothing but the random firing of neurons while we sleep.


I believe dreaming can be all of these and more.  Not all dreams are created equal.  There are many different types of dreams– ranging from the relatively meaningless to the deeply profound.  Here are some of the different types of dreams:


Daily Residue—These dreams are made up of mental clutter from our day.  They usually do not result in a clear image or strong emotion.  We are most likely to forget these types of dreams because they are so random and lacking in depth.


Recurring—This is a dream you’ve had at least once before.  We have recurring dreams when we are going through a similar circumstance as when we had the dream before.  We can have recurring dreams when there is some message that we are not getting.  Once the message is received into the conscious, we usually will no longer have that dream.


Problem-Solving—So many inventions, musical compositions, solutions to mathematical problems, as well as solutions to engineering, medical, social, and other problems have been received in dreams.  Dreamtime can be a valuable tool for problem-solving.  To make use of this resource, contemplate your problem before going to sleep and set your intention to receive a solution in your dreams.  You may wake up with a clear answer and memory of a vivid dream, or perhaps a  vague certainty of the best course of action, the next step.


Nightmare—These can occur when we are stressed out or dealing with some difficult matters in our lives.


Wish Fulfillment—Sometimes we have a “really good dream” in which we did something we really enjoyed, visited with someone we missed, etc.


Pre-cognitive—Sometimes we have a dream that tells us information we couldn’t have been privy to otherwise, or something that proves to be true in the future.


Lucid—These type of dreams are very rare!  Not very many people have experienced lucid dreaming and of those who do, their instances of lucid dreams may be infrequent.  A lucid dream occurs when you are aware that you are dreaming and you continue dreaming with this awareness, such that you are in complete control of all that occurs in your dream.  Many of us have realized we are dreaming, which causes us to awaken.  With lucid dreaming, you are able to stay in the dream while maintaining your awareness. Lucid dreams can be very pleasant and also very useful.  It is like being “in The Matrix” and you can practice an important speech, try out a course of action, or just fly around eating ice cream! Whatever you choose to create!


Spiritual—Many people receive profound advice, comfort, and encouragement while in the dream state. These kind of dreams stand out from the others.  They can be life-changing and are usually remembered for the rest of one’s life.


Dreams can provide a rich source of psychological growth and spiritual support once you become familiar with the language of dreams and your personal dream symbols.  Knowing how to identify different types of dreams is the first step.  In the next post, I’ll cover some tips for decoding and interpreting your dreams!


© 2011 Darlene Kirtley

Early Termination: An Obstacle to Productive Therapy


Darlene Kirtley, MS LPC


Entering therapy can be hard. It takes a lot of courage and ego-strength to face the fact that we have things to work on.  Maybe we haven’t been the best parents or spouses and our kids and/or relationship is the worse for it. Or we struggle with depression or self-defeating habits.  During counseling, the therapist will gently throw pebbles at our defenses.  Sometimes they feel like boulders.  Strong feelings emerge.  Things we’d invested precious energy to keep out of conscious awareness are laid bare.  We feel naked, exposed,  sometimes pissed-off.   Our back-up defenses are deployed and we terminate therapy prematurely.


It would be too threatening to our self-esteem to accept the fact that we are terrified, vulnerable, wounded or fill-in-the-blank.  If we have narcissistic tendencies, we cannot tolerate any hint that we are not perfect. If we have OCD, we may find it hard to accept that we are out of control. Maybe guilt overwhelms us as we take more accountability for our actions.  Some aspect of therapy threatens us. So we rationalize our escape.  We really didn’t need therapy anyway.  That lady didn’t know what she was talking about. Or we obsess on one particular comment, uncomfortable moment or misunderstanding without talking to the therapist about it.  In the psychological community we call this defensiveness “resistance.”  Resistance is Enemy #1 for therapist and client alike.


Children do not have as many of these resistance issues and therefore are able to make amazing progress in therapy.  Unfortunately, they are dependent upon their parents to bring them to their counseling appointments.  As a therapist, nothing is sadder to me than seeing a child client’s therapy terminated abruptly or not started at all due to the parent’s resistance issues.


When it comes to resistance, therapists are really in a Catch-22 situation.  Therapy takes a lot of self-awareness, humility, openness, courage, relationship and communication skills.  Yet those clients who have the most resistance are least likely to possess these inner resources.  Before the therapist can help build these up, the client has often bolted.  Ironically, the clients most likely to stick it out are those who are the healthiest.  So the healthy become healthier and the dysfunctional remain stagnant or spiral downward.


What are a therapist and client to do? One practice that can be helpful for therapists is to educate clients about the resistance trap upfront.  Let them know some of the signs and dynamics of resistance: canceling appointments, showing up late, critiquing minor aspects of the office, feeling angry at the therapist, withholding helpful information, and terminating therapy abruptly.  Even with the most careful planning, there is still sometimes nothing we can do to prevent untimely terminations.  A co-worker once told me “The truth hurts, but the truth heals. Sometimes people aren’t ready to heal.”


Talk to your therapist about your feelings. If you have concerns about something your therapist has said, about the fee, schedule of appointments, progress, or any other matter, open communication is key especially in a relationship as intimate as the client-therapist relationship.  I believe it is a disservice to yourself, your therapist and your child (if s/he is a client), to terminate therapy over a concern that was never brought to the therapist’s awareness.  If after discussing it you decide that you would like to conclude the therapy relationship for the time being, then perhaps you can at least end it in the best possible way. Therapists are trained in smooth beginnings, middles and endings and there is something to be said for that notion of “closure.”


© 2011 Darlene Kirtley