Dream-Telling Differences in Psychotherapy: The Dream as an Allusion

  • Marie-Luise Alder International Psychoanalytic University (IPU)



In everyday conversation dream telling occurs seldom: Bergmann (2000) found in his data of many hours of audio recorded family conversations in natural surroundings not a single dream narration. He assumes that psychotherapy should make dream telling more relevant. In our Conversation Analysis of Empathy in Psychotherapy Process Research (CEMPP) project[1] data of 45 audio recorded and transcribed psychotherapy sessions from psychoanalysis, psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) we only find four dream mentioning and three dream telling. Surprisingly, none of these occur in psychoanalysis. The function of dream telling in psychoanalysis has been summarized and analysed by Mathys (2011). This paper will focus on one dream-telling sequence from a CBT session. Nevertheless, this sequence is of high relevance for psychoanalysis because it supports the idea that dreams can be understood as an allusion to the therapeutic relationship. In this brief paper I would like to demonstrate how a dream can serve as an allusion to a contaminated talk and a disappointment in the therapist. It might be for the first time that this is shown on the basis of empirical data.


[1] Sponsored by Köhler-Stiftung


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How to Cite
Alder, M.-L. (2017). Dream-Telling Differences in Psychotherapy: The Dream as an Allusion. Language and Psychoanalysis, 5(2), 19-26. https://doi.org/10.7565/landp.v5i2.1558
Original Articles