Dreaming of You: Client and Therapist Dreams about Each Other during Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

Source Publication

Psychotherapy Research

Source ISSN



Objectives: Our objectives were to describe the frequency of therapists' dreams about their clients and clients' dreams about their therapists, to determine how therapists and clients who had such dreams differed from those who did not have such dreams, whether therapy process and outcome differed for those who had and did not have such dreams, and to describe the content and consequences of these dreams. Methods: Thirteen doctoral student therapists conducted psychodynamic psychotherapy with 63 clients in a community clinic. Results: Therapists who had dreams about clients had higher estimated and actual dream recall than did therapists who did not dream about clients. Qualitative analyses indicated that therapists' dreams yielded insights about the therapist, clients, and therapy; therapists used insights in their work with the clients. Among the clients, only two (who were particularly high in attachment anxiety and who feared abandonment from their therapists) reported dreams that were manifestly about their therapists. Conclusions: Therapists-in-training dreamed more about their clients than their clients dreamed about them. Dreams about clients can be used by therapists to understand themselves, clients, and the dynamics of the therapy relationship.


Psychotherapy Research, Vol. 24, No. 5 (September 2014): 523-537. DOI.