Freud's Free Association Technique

  • Write out your entire dream.
  • Select the section or paragraph that is most emotionally charged. List every word of that paragraph on the left side of the page.
  • Write your association - whatever pops into your mind - on the right of each word.
  • Rewrite the dream segment using only the associations.


Modified Association Technique

  • Write out your entire dream.
  • Only Select the section or paragraph that is most emotionally charged if your dream is extroidenarily long. Otherwise you should work with the dream in full as sections you may have left out may be meaningful.
  • List every word of that paragraph on the left side of the page. You may group words that are common phrases. For example:
  • Intead of writing "Stepped on my toes" as individual words, you can leave the phrase as a group or single line and interpret it as the phrase. Sometimes you may want to do it both ways to see the difference.
  • Write your association - whatever pops into your mind - on the right of each word.
  • Rewrite the dream using only the associations.


Don't force associations; if an idea doesn't come readily, skip over it and return to it when you’ve finished the list.

You may be surprised by the forceful images and messages that emerge in the rewritten dream segment. This technique is particularly useful in deciphering especially nonsensical dreams.


Dreamworking with Groups and Partners

Dreamworking can be a fun and rewarding experience. Sometimes one gets a little stuck in interpreting their dreams. This approache rarely allows the use of dream dictionaries or someone else interpreting your dreams for you. So how can you get help interpreting your dreams? One is using a dream guide, or possibly a dream partner. Another is joining a dream group that meets weekly or monthly.

Sharing dreams with a partner or with a group can be beneficial to everyone. But when you're dealing with something of such a personal nature, there have to be guidelines:

  • Everyone has to remember that dream sharing is NOT therapy.
  • No matter how tempting, do not interpret anyone else's dream for them.
  • All you will be doing is reflecting your own feelings about the dream. Respect the dreamer's experience of the dream, no matter how much you may personally disagree.
  • For the group's work to be successful, the dreamers must be feel comfortable enough to express as much (or as little) of their emotions as they want.
  • Remember that the dreamer is vulnerable, and go to any lengths to ensure confidentiality.
  • Treat the dreamer with gentleness. When the dreamer wants to stop a discussion, he must be able to without feeling he has to make an excuse. Never pressure a dreamer to talk, no matter how helpful you may think it would be.


Most of us have dream partners, and we don't even know it. Friends, neighbors, co-workers - all of them have probably heard us say at one time or another: "I had the strangest dream last night!" Such interaction is normal, but there can be problems. Usually an informal, untrained dream partner will happily interpret your dreams for you which, as we've discussed, does more harm than good. Also, if the person is somebody you see daily (which she probably is, if you're in the habit of sharing your dreams with her), chances are good she may put in an appearance in one of your dreams. She could be insulted, or at the very least, feel uncomfortable discussing such a dream with you, especially if her role in your dream was less than angelic. Having a spouse or lover as a dream partner can be especially thorny.

For obvious reasons, sharing all the details of your dreams with your spouse is touchy. Your best bet is probably a close, long-time friend, someone who pretty much knows your whole life history, and is understanding. Your friend will probably be able to make observations that may elude you. Just make sure his observations are more along the lines of questions than analysis. If you explain to your friend that a dream about him does not necessarily reflect your feelings about him, that should be enough to guard against hard feelings.

There are many ways a group can work on a dream with you. I will outline some of them here. Keep in mind, many of these group techniques have strict rules and details which due to space considerations I do not have time to explain in detail. To learn more about working with groups and being a dream partner, please see our seminars or online courses section.

The first group technique is call Ullman's Dream Group Exercise. Basically put, the dreamer tells the dream, the members ask questions about the dream, members tell their interpretations as if the dream were their own, the dreamer is asked what may have triggered the dream in their life, then he or she tells what they learned about the dream.

Another technique is the dream interview technique. This is the technique used by most dream interpretation guides and is best used with a partner rather than a group. The "interviewer" interviews the dreamer about his dream asking questions about the objects, characters, and feelings in the dream. He should do this assuming nothing about the dream, as if from another country or even another planet.

The most dramatic technique is to act out the dream with a group. Each member will take a "part" in the dream. This includes both characters and objects. Each should play the part as they think it should be played. The dreamer can ask questions of each object or character.