Ethics and Confidentiality

When it comes to working with dreams, I follow the Ethics and Confidentiality guidelines as published by the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD). On this page you find my five key ethics points, with the IASD ethics statement that this refers to.

1. I will never tell you what your dream means. Why? Because I respect that dreams are very individual mental processes, and no other person can tell you what’s going on in your head. As with anything that goes on in our minds, a dream can have multiple layers. So rather than taking the role of explainer, I work together with my clients in a partnership. I help the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings, and associations. Or, as phrased in the IASD ethics statement:

IASD supports an approach to dreamwork and dream sharing that respects the dreamer’s dignity and integrity, and which recognizes the dreamer as the decision-maker regarding the significance of the dream. Systems of dreamwork that assign authority or knowledge of the dream’s meanings to someone other than the dreamer can be misleading, incorrect, and harmful.

2. Instead, I help you figure out your dream for yourself. I have the techniques, you have the mind, and together we aim to find inspiration, insight or wisdom from your own subconscious. I see dreams as a great way to visualize complex ideas. It is my privilege to facilitate a conversation that can allow for clarity.

Ethical dreamwork helps the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings, and associations, and guides the dreamer to more fully experience, appreciate, and understand the dream. Every dream may have multiple meanings, and different techniques may be reasonably employed to touch these multiple layers of significance.

3. I do my best to guard privacy and hold space for you. This also means that I will keep your dream private, unless we explicitly discussed otherwise.

A dreamer’s decision to share or discontinue sharing a dream should always be respected and honored. The dreamer should be forewarned that unexpected issues or emotions may arise in the course of the dreamwork. Information and mutual agreement about the degree of privacy and confidentiality are essential ingredients in creating a safe atmosphere for dream sharing.

4. I am a coach, not a therapist. With my experience as a personal coach and my expertise in dreams, I know how to help make sense out of seemingly random dream images. While discussing dreams can be transformational, it’s not therapy per se (unless done in a therapeutic setting). Working with a client, I aim to find new insights and inspiration. If we discover we a need for therapy during our interaction, I will refer you.

Dreamwork outside a clinical setting is not a substitute for psychotherapy, or other professional treatment, and should not be used as such.

5. Just like you, I come at this from my own perspective, and this is no more valid than yours. There are many ways to work with our mind, and as many ways to work with our dreaming mind. Therefore, it’s important to me that you know my specific preferences in how to approach a dream, so that you can consciously choose if you want to work with me or with one of my many colleagues.

IASD recognizes and respects that there are many valid and time-honored dreamwork traditions. We invite and welcome the participation of dreamers from all cultures. There are social, cultural, and transpersonal aspects to dream experience. In this statement we do not mean to imply that the only valid approach to dreamwork focuses on the dreamer’s personal life.Our purpose is to honor and respect the person of the dreamer as well as the dream itself, regardless of how the relationship between the two may be understood.

So in short…

As much as I learn about dreams, I am very aware that there’s always more to know. One thing I accept as a fact: you know your mind better than I ever can. Respecting that, I try to help bring your subconscious wisdom to the foreground. Together, we might find some illuminating truths, or surprising insights.

Read the full IASD statement here