Laura Russell, Ph.D., Archive  

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Q. What do my dreams mean?

I have been dreaming about _________________(fill in the blank from the following: abuse, my trauma, my mother, my father, my abuser, weird things)." Should I assume this is an accurate memory of abuse or what actually happened to me?


A. I was trained to believe that dreams are symbolic of something we are attempting to resolve. In this fashion, all dreams are products of your healthy self. And your healthy psyche is attempting to grow and heal.

Unlike therapists who are trained in classical psychoanalytic methods, my training emphasized that each person's symbolized meaning is inside them. Thus, there are no charts of meanings where we can look up your dream to tell you it's meaning.

These are your symbols. Therefore, the meanings of your dream are near the surface of your mind. There are therapeutic processes I use within a session with people to help them get in touch with their own meanings. Just know that all aspects of your dream are some symbolic aspect of yourself, your memories, or your feelings.

There are some therapists in the field of PTSD who encourage you to take your dreams literally as evidence of exactly what was done to you. I think this is a mistake, especially in cases of Dissociate Identity Disorder or amnesia. This is because it is difficult enough for you to decide for yourself who you are and what happened to you.

And too easy for any therapist to intrude on your decisions regarding your identify. I emphasize with my clients that they should trust themselves and their instincts regarding dreams, memories, issues of self-identity and feelings. And I actively refrain from giving my own interpretations.











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