Editor: The following is an outline for group leaders interested in the
process of dreamwork. This outline is a summary or many years of experience
that Earl Koteen has had in a variety of settings.
Check-in: Name, mood and/or what's most prominent, dream title; want/need/weed
to share (Need expressed importance and urgency, want a preference to share,
and "weed" is between the two. We use recency and frequency of sharing as
guides for tiebreaking.
Opening Centering Exercise: Some mind, body, and sensory
awareness/relaxation. Can include a couple of deep breaths, body scan,
attention to surrounding sounds and sensations, etc.
Identification and Sequencing of Sharers: Review wants/needs/weeds,
identify who will share (normally 2 on weeknights; 3 on weekends) and in
Sharing Dreams and Break: Normally about 1 hours per dream and one 10
minute break. After about 45-50 minutes into dream work, ask 1st question
to the group (Any new perspectives on the dream?) and then 2nd question to
the dreamer (Anything you wish us to look further at or anything you wish to
do or say?
Closing Centering Exercise: Relax and return to body. Express gratitude
for sharing of the dreams and for contributions by group members.
In addition to what's mentioned above:
Set method for sharing the dream: It's dreamer's choice, though the dreamer
may and often does want input from the group on how s/he will share the
dream. If the dream is typed, sometimes the group wants to read it before
the dream speaks it. If the dream isn't typed, then there are normally two
readings. Encourage the dreamer to read slowly, but without interruption the
first time. During the 2nd reading, group members may interrupt at any time
to ask the dreamer to pause or to repeat.
Ignore the Speaker!!!: OK, I am exaggerating for emphasis. I don't really
mean to ignore whoever is speaking. However, just as the use of "if it were
my dream" or "in my dream" seems counterintuitive at first, one of the
biggest challenges of facilitation is recognizing that your primary
responsibility is not to the speaker but to the group. Notice the speaker,
but do not give the speaker rapt attention. Instead, regularly scan the
room to see whom else wishes to speak. Surprising, the speaker will know
you are attending to her/him even though you are not always looking directly
"Air" Traffic Controller: This is often the most important part of
facilitation. While one person is speaking, you can acknowledge a raised
hand or other indication of a desire to speak by eye contact and a nod. If
you notice that more than one person wishes to speak, announce a sequence as
soon as the current speaker stops.
Often when one speaker stops, more than one person starts to speak, even
though not all of these individuals have previously indicated their desire
to be put in the speakers' queue. Most of the time, the potential speakers
quickly resolve sequence among themselves. However, if they can't easily
resolve it among themselves, please interrupt if necessary to announce a
sequence of speakers. To make your interruption more courteous, you can
make statements like: "X has had her hand up for a while now," or "Y hasn't
had a chance yet to comment on this dream." However, usually you will have
no problem so long as you set a clear sequence. When there are more than 2
people who wish to speak, it's often easiest to just sequence them from
right to left or vice versa depending on seating arrangement.
Another responsibility is enforcing the sequence. Once you've said that Y
will be the second speaker after X, tactfully interrupt Z if he tries to
A third responsibility, even when you haven't announced a sequence, is to
see that those who have been trying to speak get the opportunity. Comments
like, "X has been trying to make an observation," usually do the trick.
Please exercise your best judgment in making your interventions. These are
guidelines and not rules and can generate strife if imposed too rigidly.
However, they generally make for a happier and better functioning group when
reasonably imposed. Dream group members tend to less impatience and are
less likely to overtalk one another when they are assured that they will get
their "turns" to speak.
Earl Koteen (email@example.com), a long-time dream worker and workshop
leader, is completing his studies at the Starr King School for the Ministry
(Unitarian Universalist), Berkeley, California, where he hosts a dream group
open to the public.