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Working with Dreams in Systemic Practices and Perspectives


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Presented at the Conference "Dreams, Phantasms and Memories" - University of Gdansk, September 19th, 2013

Published in: Education, Technology, Spiritual
  • Sonera is a psychotherapist who specializes in counselling psychology, individual, family, couples, group and cognitive behaviour therapy in Mumbai, India. Address: Flat No 1. Ground Floor, Firdaus, Vitthaldas Thackersey Marg, New Marine Lines, Marine Lines, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400020 Phone:09820023623, Email -, Website-:
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Working with Dreams in Systemic Practices and Perspectives

  1. 1. water dreams music Working with Dreams in Systemic Practices and Perspectives Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  2. 2. introducing myself I’m a psychologist and a psychotherapist, working with individuals and families . I’m also a supervisor in social services for children I’m Co – director of the School of Systemic Psychotherapy and Clinical Centre at the Milan Centre of Family Therapy I also teach in the Conservatory of Music, Cuneo and lead learning groups in the University of Pavia I’m a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. I’m currently serving as a Member of the Board of Directors I’m an amateur musician and I play violin in the Orchestra Sinfonica Amatoriale Italiana as an author, I focus on creative change related to dreams and music. My last book is “The Composer’s Dream”, published by Pari Publishing Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  3. 3. in the current systemic practices dreams are just seldom taken into account this seem to happen because: dreams are considered mostly as a product of an individual mind they are taken into account referring to their contents as if they were primarily kind of witnesses of the dreamer’s past practitioners and scholars are afraid of falling back into lineal thinking and interpretative practices Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  4. 4. we know instead that it is possible to approach dreams in many different ways and some of these are closer to systemic sensitivity and awareness for example narrative approaches seem to be more and more appropriate to the practitioners small surprise: the dream we are working with is already a dream’s narration in itself. A peculiar narration indeed, being a re – narration of something only partially subject to the common rules of a narration in a key as such sometimes dreams are also used during the training to systemic psychotherapy in our School, but this happens rather sporadically, depending on the bias of the teacher. It is not considered as an essential part of our learning methodology Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  5. 5. Milan, Spring 2012: Ernest Hartmann led the Seminar “Boundaries and Mind” Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  6. 6. “Siamo fatti degli stessi sistemi di cui sono fatti i sogni” Dott.ssa Leonarda Fascia, allieva, IV anno, CMTF Dott. Massimo Schinco, Co – Direttore e Didatta, CMTF “IDENTITÀ SISTEMICHE” CONVEGNO NAZIONALE CMTF, Montegrotto Terme, 26 – 27 – 28 ottobre 2012
  7. 7. the group study
  8. 8. “ … Mere purposive rationality unaided by such phenomena as art, religion, dreams, and the like, is necessarily pathologic and destructive of life” “These algorithms of the heart, or, as they say, of the unconscious, are, however, coded and organized in a manner totally different from the algorithms of language. And since a great deal of conscious thought is structured in terms of the logics of language, the algorithms of the unconscious are doubly inaccessible. It is not only that the conscious mind has poor access to this material, but also the fact that when such access is achieved, e.g., in dreams, art, poetry, religion, intoxication, and the like, there is still a formidable problem of translation.” Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind Gregory Bateson and Dreams Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  9. 9. dreaming state narratives and waking state narratives Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  10. 10. recent theories, though in a rather individual view of dreams, emphasize the elements of continuity with waking states Ernest Hartmann’s approach relies on identifying the central image of a dream both in systemic psychotherapy and supervision a dream’s narrative can be integrated in a therapeutic conversation the identification of the central image allows to discover and connect the emotions of family members, as well as those of a group at work Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  11. 11. … an example from the family therapy room … a family member is invited to tell a dream. The other members are invited to make comments with the help of therapist’s questioning to the dreamer: “when did you have this dream? How did you feel when you woke up? How do you feel now that you told it? How do you feel in your body? Which color had your dream? What title would you give to the dream? With whom would you like to share it? And with whom you would not like? If the therapist would be part of your dream, what role would you assign to the therapist?” to the other members of the family: “which kind of emotions did this dream rise into you? Were this dream yours, who would you like to be and what would you like to do?” Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  12. 12. … an example from a supervision group … an educator, after listening to a child telling him how he was abused by his father in a severely degraded family context, incurs recurring dreams, long and quite unpleasant : “I see J. in bad situations, often using drugs in run-down public toilets. Accidentally I get in and find him laying down on the floor, yet conked out.” for the dreamer the central image relates to the public toilet’s squalor, and the connected emotions are disgust and misery. Group members emphasize images and feelings of sorrow and helplessness (the child is near to die). One of the educators attending shares his sens of nausea, which resonates with the same the dreamer had (he tells he felt anger, loathing and sorrow when he listened to the child’s accounts) but, most of all, with the feelings of the child himslef, who recently has had vomit repeatedly without an apparent reason useless to say how valuable has been to take these feelings into account and to elaborate them in order to improve the relation with the child Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  13. 13. furthermore, due to the continuity between diurnal and nocturnal life, a psychotherapist can take into account not only nocturnal dreams, but open-eyed ones also both in psychotherapy and in supervision can encourage working with imagination and creativity making connections to the dream narratives and foster the development of resilience a systemic psychotherapist can take advantage from dreams as a way to look ahead, as a tool to realize life projects, likewise a bridge to different types of a possible future Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  14. 14. a new frontier: collective consciousness lucid dreaming group dreaming applied to psychotherapy Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  15. 15. the paradigms about the nature of consciousmess are changing and with them also our views about dreams are changing radically several authors (e.g. Manousakis, 2007) depict individual consciousness as a subsystem, just relatively authonomous, of an infinite stream of global consciousness in this bias dreams show themselves as phenomena capable to reapproach us to the collective foundations of our identity, since the conditions allowing our “separate” individuation are softened and even suspended one of the most authoritative representative of this tendency is Montague Ullmann Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  16. 16. emphasizes that “we are much less separate than we think we are” and dreaming is “an adaptation concerned with the survival of the species and only secondarily of the individual” “dreams can offer an aesthetic and creative approach to knowledge, oriented to wisdom, which is complementary to the “objective” one of science, oriented rather to mastery” Montague Ullman (1916 – 2008) Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  17. 17. Ullman points out that “…that part of us which is linked to others through feeling is more real, more enduring and more significant than other dimensions of our existence. It compels belief. It dissolves distances, creates unity and links us to the real world. This is the stuff of reality.” Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  18. 18. these assumptions pave the way to a multidimensional view of identity and personality, in which traditional western culture’s basic assumptions, such as reductionism materialism separation are going to be left behind Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  19. 19. also perspectives founded on strict determinism are to be replaced by explanations not pretending to be complete whose outcomes are not fully predictable, where the role of human choice is kept in more respect than before Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  20. 20. consciousness is envisioned as an infinite collective stream whose individuals are distinct but not separate explications some examples … Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  21. 21. Jean Campbell is a pioneer in the field of group dreaming applied to problem solving related to life issues Gregory Scott Sparrow, a family therapist and counsellor himself, studies lucid dreaming in the epistemological frame of co-creation Robert Waggoner explores the healing potential of lucid dreaming Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  22. 22. it is too early to draw well shaped theoretical models from these experiences , and consequently, to elaborate a formal theory of technique nevertheless these experiences account effectively for phenomena that all psychotherapist know very well, such as non locality jungian synchronicity the strict bond between intuition and action in leading the session Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy
  23. 23. Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy so, although a serene consensus from the professional community seems still far to be granted and, due to cultural conditioning, it is not always easy, and sometimeseven impossible to help clients to get accustomed to approaches including the practices I mentioned above I’m persuaded that this is the direction to be followed if we want to seriously remain psychotherapist on a relational and systemic basis
  24. 24. Massimo Schinco - Psychotherapist, Italy THANK YOU!