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Ethics

I think it is important that you understand that there are ethical issues in working with people's dreams. Dreams can be disturbing. Discussing even mild-seeming dreams can sometimes lead to upsetting emotions. It is important that you understand this possibility and it is important that dream workers respect your right to decide if and how you work with these emotions.

bulletAny dream can lead to disturbing emotions
bulletYou should feel free to stop at any time you wish
bulletThere are no real facts, only opinions about dreams

Many dream workers use interpretation techniques. "Interpretation" is just a fancy word for an opinion and someone else's interpretation is just an opinion, not a statement of fact. It is your life and your opinion that counts. We use dreams because we believe they are a way to leading a better life. But a dream worker is not a scientist performing an experiment, (s)he is not taking measurements, making a calculation and then giving you a precise answer. He or she is just another person offering you an opinion as to how you should view that interesting or disturbing dream. Even an experienced dream worker basing his/her view on strong evidence using skilled methods is still only offering an opinion rather than stating a fact.

I agree with and subscribe to this ethics statement from the Association for Dream Studies of which I am a member:

Dreamwork Ethics Statement

The Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD) celebrates the many benefits of dreamwork, yet recognizes that there are potential risks. ASD supports an approach to dreamwork and dream sharing that respects the dreamer's dignity and integrity; and which recognizes the dreamer as the decision-maker regarding the significance of the dream. Systems of dreamwork that assign authority over, or knowledge of, the dream's meanings to someone who is not the dreamer can be misleading, incorrect, and harmful. Ethical dream work helps the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings, and associations, and guides the dreamer to more fully experience, appreciate, and understand the dream. 

Every dream may have multiple meanings, and different techniques may be reasonably employed to touch these multiple layers of significance.

A dreamer's decision to share or discontinue sharing a dream should always be respected and honored. The dreamer should be forewarned that unexpected issues or emotions may arise in the course of dreamwork. Information and mutual agreement about the degree of privacy and confidentiality are essential ingredients in creating a safe atmosphere for dream sharing.

Dreamwork outside the clinical setting is not a substitute for psychotherapy, or other professional treatment, and should not be used as such.

ASD recognizes and respects that there are many valid and time-honored dreamwork traditions. We invite and welcome the participation of dreamers from all cultures. There are social, cultural, and transpersonal aspects to dream experience. In this statement we do not mean to imply that the only valid approach to dreamwork focuses on the dreamer's personal life. Our purpose is to honor and respect the person of the dreamer as well as the dream itself, regardless of how the relationship between the two may be understood.

(Adopted by the Executive Board of ASD, March 9, 1997)

 

David Jenkins 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Artwork by Leigh, et.al.
Site Construction by Dave at the GSX Project