Dreamscaping is an exciting new approach in grief and loss therapy that uses imaginal resourcing and a focus on felt sense, re-scripting and mental simulation, memory reconsolidation and photo-based art to shift the focus from “what do you miss?” to “what gives you joy?” Call it visual reframing or visualized narrative therapy, Dreamscaping creates a place where “affection and moments of connection can exist in another time and place just in the imagining of it.”
Therapists this approach appeals to:
- clinicians using strength-based, imaginal approaches recognizing the power of short-term creative interventions
- narratively-inclined therapists looking for an approach more about tracking positive affect, positive existences and preferred futures
- art therapists excited about co-creating with clients in a photo-based modality of their choosing (e.g., photo collage, photomontage, figures or shrines)
- bereavement and spiritual care counselors seeking to incorporate innovative approaches into their work with individuals and groups.
During a Dreamscaping interview, Russ, a bereaved chaplain, lists seven fond memories of his dad. Russ selected three to put as his absolute favorites. Now for the hard part: see if you can guess which memory is, in Russ’s words, “not mixed with any other uncomfortable feelings.” This will become the resourced prescriptive memory. Answer: Memory #2 because one can observe the highest positive cognitions in this particular narrative.
To see the full length interview with Russ on YouTube, go to https://youtu.be/DhjT9MDc7Fw.
Focus on Felt Sense
Kim is a bereaved granddaughter and an art therapy student. In this audio clip, Kim is interviewed by another art therapy student playing the role of a dreamscaping practitioner. Watch how she zeroes in on one particular memory of watching TV with “Gram”— in particular, the felt sense of the surroundings, of her grandmother’s nails, and lastly, how she audits the details one last time by walking Kim through a mental simulation of the memory.
Rescripting & Mental Simulation
Memory Reconsolidation & Photo-Based Art
Donna-Marie, a bereaved mother, is asked: “What kinds of things did your daughter collect in her room, and why?” We knew that she loved riding her horse, Oscar. But also, up until her daughter was around 12 years of age, she collected figurines of Little Mermaid and of dolphins. Asking Donna-Marie what specifically a horseback rider like her daughter might like about dolphins, she paused for a moment and said “the way the Little Mermaid swam around and that sort of thing.” We expanded upon that: “Sort of like cantering on a horse? Or almost like…she’s riding the Mermaid?” Donna at this point laughs with relief, and says “Yeah. I never really thought about that before. But it all kind of goes together now, doesn’t it?”