Celebrating the Power of Dreams
One hundred years after Freud introduced the topic, we are still grappling with questions about dreams. What are they? What do they mean? How do we access them? In the years since the publication of Freud’s seminal Interpretation of Dreams at the turn of the 20th century, dream work in Western society has slowly developed into an area of scholarly respect.
With the formation of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) in the mid-1980s, clinicians, scholars, and the general public have gathered every year to celebrate the dream and try to understand its mysteries. Despite 50 postsecondary institutions offering dream courses in North America and Europe, there are very few Certificate or degree programs specifically devoted to dream studies. Saybrook was the first school to offer a graduate Certificate in Dream Studies that can be taken primarily through a distance format.
Despite this growing professional and public acceptance of the importance of dreaming and dreams, few psychologists obtain any formal training or certification of expertise. In fact, most clinicians enter their professional life with absolutely no such training and often feel frustrated or baffled when a client presents a dream in the therapeutic process. Psychology scholars are also usually poorly trained to understand and appreciate the richness that dream work has to offer their explorations of the human condition. Increasingly, cognitive psychology and neuropsychology tell us that considerable human information processing occurs outside human awareness, yet what Freud called the “royal road to the unconsciousness” still remains too little investigated and understood. This Certificate program helps address this inequity.
The Dream Studies Certificate gives students an understanding of dream research, practice, and personal meaning. If students are practicing therapists, the Certificate is an excellent way to supplement their training and enrich the quality of their therapeutic work.
Curriculum: The Dream Studies Certificate is designed to help students gain an understanding of important research about dreams and to implement that knowledge in order to accomplish personal and professional goals. Our teaching approach encourages the student to explore personal interests and learn through experience as well as to come to an appreciation of research in the field.
The Certificate in Dream Studies consists of four 3-credit courses (three required courses and one elective course), a 3-credit practicum, and a 1-credit integrative paper (16 credits total). The four required courses are:
• Experiential: CSIH 3160: Personal Mythology and Dreamwork
• Neurological: CSIH 3150: Neuropsychology of Dreams and Dreaming
• Research Based: CS 3010: Arts-Based Inquiry
• Dreamwork: CSIH 3165: Understanding and Appreciating Dreams
Practicum: A practicum equivalent to one month of full-time effort is required (CSIH 8151: Practicum in Professional Practice). The practicum is a special project specifically tied to a research interest of the student. This can be a scholarly study or an experiential one. Acceptable projects might include keeping a dream journal and conducting an analysis of content; reflections and report on the clinical uses of dreams; or a research/scholarly study. The practicum, which will be planned with a Certificate director, may be tailored to students’ professional needs.
Integrative Paper or Project: The last activity in the Certificate program is writing a final paper that integrates what students have learned from the four courses and the practicum (CSIH 8950: Certificate Integrative Seminar). This culminating assignment also gives students an opportunity to assess their strengths, identify further learning needs, and develop a specific plan for continuing their personal and professional development in the area of dream studies.
Learning Objectives: The four courses, practicum, and final paper requirement for this Certificate are designed to give students a theoretical, experiential, cross-cultural, and research foundation in dream studies. Upon completion students will have skills in multiple domains. In the neuroscience domain, students will be able to:
• Appreciate the characteristics of the sleeping brain, the various stages of sleep, and the differences between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement sleep.
• Understand the major neuropsychological models of dreaming, highlight similarities and differences between these models, recognize how they explain the process of dreaming, and identify the data or arguments that support or contest each of them.
• Explore the implications of an understanding of the physiology and neurochemistry of wakefulness, sleep, and dreaming for a range of associated phenomena.
In the personal and experiential domain, students will be able to:
• Understand the concept of “personal mythology” and its relationship to dreams.
• Become aware of one’s own guiding personal myths as expressed in dreams.
• Understand Feinstein and Krippner’s 5-stage process to determine through dream work which of their personal myths are functional and adaptive, and which are dysfunctional and maladaptive.
• Develop proficiency with methods that can be used to help a person explore the nature of his or her own personal mythology as expressed in dreams.
• Understand how the personal mythology and dreams concept can be used for personal growth, counseling, and/or psychotherapy.
• Understand the role of symbols and metaphors in dreams.
In the cross-cultural domain, students will develop the skills to:
• Appreciate the wide range of cultural differences in how the dream is understood.
• Understand dreams from the perspective of a culture different from their own.
• Become sensitive to anthropological uses of dreams in understanding the nature of culture.
• Apply cross-cultural understandings of the dream to therapeutic settings.
In the dreamwork domain, they will:
• Gain a thorough understanding of at least one method of dreamwork.
• Be able to identify diverse applications for dreamwork in clinical and non-clinical settings.
• Be able to identify populations in which dreamwork has been or can be used.
Learning/Teaching Approach: Our teaching approach encourages students to explore personal interests and learn through experience by appreciating research in the field. Students may complete a Certificate in Dream Studies with a team of co-learners who work together on various aspects of the Certificate or in an independent study format.
Team Format: Learners in the team format complete the three required courses together in a virtual classroom. For each core course, this entails reading the assigned texts, spending an hour per week online adding to the team conversation, and writing and posting a minimum of one paper for other team members to comment on.
Independent Study Format: Learners in the independent study format download a syllabus, complete the assigned reading, and write three essays for each course. Elective courses and the practicum are planned with the Certificate directors.
Meetings: Students are required to attend at least one of the Dream Studies Certificate meetings, which are held in conjunction with Residential Conferences for the Department of Humanistic and Clinical Psychology. The Dream Studies Certificate meetings will include a number of short presentations by students and faculty, including featured presentations by Certificate graduates. There will be no cost for the meeting but non-degree students will be responsible for transportation, lodging, meals, and any other expenses. Arrangements may also be made to complete meeting requirements with faculty via Skype or other video-conferencing platforms.
For more information on this or other Certificate programs, please complete the form on the right. You may check multiple options.
To enroll in this Certificate program as a non-degree student, go to Apply Online  and select the desired Certificate option. This Certificate program is available to current Saybrook degree students in certain programs as part of, or in addition to, their regular degree program curricula. Please contact Admissions or your faculty advisor/mentor about enrolling.