Read what the following individuals —all working in grief/loss, end of life, thanatology and trauma—have to say about their own experience as dreamscaping clients.
Beginning with something that is tender and fragile and a little painful; a feeling of loss and moving towards a moment where that emptiness is full. Although it was hard in the beginning, my mind went to a place where we shared, the two of us, a place where that can also exist, just in the imagining of it. It allows for not just a picture, but color, temperature, vibrancy. I definitely felt how strongly I felt being inside that cabin was not right, but how sharing the adventure of finding it was.The relational part of it- there’s choice points [for the client]. The therapist is leading it because they decide which thread to pick up. But they’re also following (because what’s actually most impactful was when the thoughts came from me). In those moments when I would say a bunch of things, I was the one to choose which memory to develop.
Dreamscaping— I think it’s about changing your inner narrative. Instead of continually stopping at the points you stopped at in your development or your processing of these critical dimensions of your life, you can expand them through thinking about what might have been, or what could be, or what you wish had happened—you get to express your unmet needs. Obviously, I can’t go back in time to our family garage. But I’m going to be in my own garage, this evening, or this weekend, when my son is coming down, and I’ll sense his unmet needs sensitively. You bring it back into your life. It’s not that you’re resolving something in the past. You’re expanding your own sensitivities and awareness so they can allow you to live more fully in the life you are in now. I don’t see it as re-making the past. I see it as growing into the future.
Viewing the Dreamscape for the first time brings up something very unexpected. (Laughs) I had no idea that I would be going back to our kitchen this afternoon and seeing my mom! (Chokes up) I've been so consumed with her old age and her dying the last 10 years, it's been hard for me to remember her as a vibrant mom. Sure, I've done a lot of reminiscing with my brother and sister, but there was something about seeing that moment from my childhood that was a comfort and a joy and totally positive and freeing. The pacing was definitely client-driven. Your questions assisted me to get to MY spot rather than lingering at my three year old self (which I kept wanting to do) or 80 year old mom. Helping me get into that space brought up the joy of what my experience was, rather than hers.
[Dreamscaping] shifted my mood. I tend to focus on the sad stuff, my daughter's illness, and not so much the pregnancy which was the good bit. The session drew it out a lot more for me. Feeling pretty low to begin with, but now I feel something shifted emotionally. I feel not so overwhelmed by [her death]. Doing this session took the heaviness out of it a bit.Pointing out the close bond we had during the short time I had with her, and those experiences during the pregnancy and afterwards gives her a stronger personality for me because I didn’t get to see her grow up. Hard to have a sense of her personhood otherwise.
I thought a lot about the memory we worked on. When I would think about my dear beloved cat Raji, the memory that came to mind, the hallway— in retrospect, dreamscaping shifted the focus.When I thought about Raji, I noticed that it was not as strong a negative emotional response as before. It made me laugh. (laughs) Now if I see a cat commercial I feel somewhere between nostalgic and positive, but not negative. Every time I’m thinking about Raji, I guess I’m changing because I’ve been 'rehearsing' that positive memory of the hallway.
Most of the work was subtly constructing the memory, which were stuck to tangible elements. And the more we recovered these elements, the more alive the memory came for me. The type of tablecloth, my standing on the chair, Grandfather—I kept feeling surprised by each of those elements that came up. Deciding what goes in the "shot," dreamscaping forces you to make choices. Now, days and weeks after dreamscaping, there is one mental snapshot. It's in my mind now. One snapshot tapping me on the shoulder.