Cognitive Therapy and Dreams

Cognitive Therapy and Dreams

Cognitive Therapy and Dreams

Cognitive Therapy and Dreams


Expanded from a special issue of the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, this volume contains some of the most interesting and promising work on dreams coming from therapists and researchers working at the crossroads of cognitive therapy and other systems-from a reprint of Beck's only article on cognition and dreams to the influence of modern neurobiology on the use of dreams in cognitive therapy.


I am delighted to write the Foreword to Cognitive Therapy and Dreams, by Rosner, Lyddon, and Freeman. One might say, it's something I've always dreamed of! For many years, I have been interested in the expansion and development of cognitive therapy. I have observed and commented upon this expansion (Dowd, 2002) and participated in it (e.g., Dowd, 1997, 2000). Now Rosner, Lyddon, and Freeman—all three highly accomplished scholars—have carried it one step further.

Cognitive therapy has increasingly been seen as the integrative therapy (e.g., Alford & Norcross, 1991). Its conceptual power, research basis, and broad therapeutic technique armamentarium has placed it in the forefront of existing psychotherapies. Now its ability to incorporate one of the most psychodynamic of techniques—dream interpretation—without doing violence to the cognitive model has further demonstrated this considerable heuristic and technical power.

This book illustrates several polarities. Some of the chapters use dream interpretation as an extension of more standard cognitive therapy, looking for the cognitive distortions in this domain of human cognition as well. These might be called the [objectivist] chapters. Others describe the use of dreams from a more metaphorical meaning point of view. These might be called the [constructivist] chapters. Both polarities (and combinations in between) are now accepted and well-represented in the cognitive therapy literature. the book also nicely illustrates the phenomenon of [second-order change] within cognitive therapy (Dowd & Pace, 1989) and included in dream work.

Dream work also illustrates the power of experiential understanding and body work in cognitive therapy, described by Mahoney (1995). As Dowd (2000) has also written, cognitive therapy in the early 21 st century is a great deal more than talk. It involves nonverbal cognitions (imagery) as well as embodiment techniques.

Dreams may be thought of as examples of tacit cognitive schemas (Dowd & Courchaine, 1996), core cognitive schemas (Beck, 1995), or Early Maladaptive Schemas (Young, 1999). As such, they are examples of what Freud might have called primary processes involving highly idiosyncratic and metaphorical, non-veridical cognitions and are at a considerable theoretical distance from the original notion that dream contents have standard meanings.

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