"What do dreams and old memories tell us about ourselves?"
People are fundamentally expressive of who they are, which means that a person's intrinsic patterns may be expressed in the dreams that they wake up with (or have had over the course of life) or the childhood memories that they retain. Therapeutic techniques that can be illuminating, and potentially give us food for thought: looking at your dreams or gathering childhood memories and seeing if we find patterns, ways you have conceptualized yourself or beliefs that have hardened into a set worldview. These techniques, then, give us a way to understand your tint, your perspective, while also helping to dilate that perspective.
Looking at personal material of this sort can give us insight into your personality style, talents, personal issues and even shine light on a blind spot or two. as we, together, tease through your influences and patterned ways of seeing the world and get ideas about how to move forward in new ways. Let's call it 'Research as Me-search' (to quote Susan Cain). This process is insight-oriented, though also behavioural.
When is this kind of work useful?
Sometimes a person is looking for help with a longstanding challenge; other times, just looking for insight. I look at problems using a wide lens; I'm interested in the ways nutrition effects how we feel and act, Chinese medical theory informs our understanding of personal challenges and cognitive processing sometimes effects social and psychological function. In other words, I also think about the big picture and this can be a moment to think about life style issues, as they affect mental health.
Please don't do the following homework unless we have already spoken on the phone and determined that we are proceeding with an assessment.
Here are the directions for putting together written materials:
1) You can submit dreams. Perhaps you remember some dreams from childhood, the kind of dream that you wake up with in the morning. Maybe you had recurrent dreams? Maybe you woke up with a dream this morning? Maybe tomorrow you will wake up with a dream? Write 'em down!
2) I would like you to complete a test called the Earliest Recollection Test. My caveat: if remembering memories from childhood is going to traumatize you or awaken unhappy emotions, I can adapt the test so that you can come up with other memories which will not upset you.
Otherwise, here are some directions to the the ER Test: every person has a handful of memories at the top of the mind that they can remember from childhood without prompting. Don't look at old pictures! Ask yourself, "what is my earliest memory?" Now the only catch is that I define a memory as something that only happened once. So don't come up with, "we used to go to the beach." It has to be, "one day, when we were at the beach, the following thing happened…."
Once you have your first memory that you're going to jot down, please write it down in as much detail as you can. Include a guess: how old are you? Then write: Vivid Moment. If you could only pick one part of the memory that is most vivid for you, which part is it? Write that down. Then write, "Vivid Feeling:" now you write down the feeling that you recall having in that vivid moment.
So you've written down one memory so far. I'm going to need 10 of these. Go for another one. When you get it, don't worry if that memory actually happened earlier than the other memory you came up with. I want the memories in the order that they came to you.
I'm looking for 10 different memories in this format. Ideally, memories before age 8. If you don't have any of those, then it can be later, adolescence or whatever . . . I'll take what you've got.
3) Please write a one page essay: "The Story of My Day in Detail." This is a short essay which is the story of a particular day (yesterday? today?). Pleease don't write the story of a 'usual day'. I'd like the story of a specific day. This essay gives me the opportunity to hear how you 'do' you, over the course of one specific day!
4) Once you have this done, please print and sign the consent form which you can access on ap.AnnettePoizner.com (above, to the right, along the toolbar). Feel free to ask for any clarification about the modalities discussed within the consent and to bring up any other questions you have.