20th Annual International Conference of the 
Association for the Study of Dreams
June 27 - July 1,  2003
Berkeley, California


Using Hypnosis to Work with Your Dreams

Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
352 Harvard St.
Cambridge MA 02138

Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. is author of The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use Their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving—and How You Can, Too. (Crown/Random House, 2001), The Pregnant Man and Other Cases from a Hypnotherapist's Couch (Random House, 1998), and editor of Trauma and Dreams (Harvard University Press, 1996). Dr. Barrett is Editor-in-Chief of DREAMING, Past-President of ASD and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.

Summary of Presentation

Hypnosis is a state of consciousness with many similarities to that of dreaming, especially lucid dreaming. This workshop will present ways of combining hypnosis and dreamwork including inducing hypnotic dreams, working with nocturnal dreams during hypnosis, and hypnotic and self-hypnotic suggestions to aid general dream recall and incubate specific dream content such as dream lucidity. There will be opportunities for participants to experience several of these techniques.

Learning Objectives

  1. To describe differences between hypnotic dreams, night dreams, and day dreams
  2. To describe how hypnosis can be used to work with night time dreams
  3. To describe how hypnotic dreams can be used in therapy or self-exploration

Evaluation questions:

  1. List three differences between the content of Hypnotic dreams and Nighttime dreams
  2. ist three differences between the content of Hypnotic dreams and Daydreams
  3. Describe a typical hypnotic suggestion to enhance dream recall



Using Hypnosis to Work with Your Dreams

Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.


There are a variety of ways of combining hypnosis and dreamwork for the mutual enhancement of each. One can use hypnotic suggestions that a person will experience a dream in the trance state--either as an open ended suggestion or with the suggestion that they dream about a certain topic-- and these "hypnotic dreams" have been found to be similar enough to nocturnal dreams (Barrett, 1979) to be worked with using many of the same techniques usually applied to nocturnal dreams. One can also work with previous nocturnal dreams during a hypnotic trance in ways parallel to Jung's "active imagination" techniques to continue, elaborate on, or explore the meaning of the dream.

Research by Charles Tart (1964) has found that hypnotic suggestions can be used to influence future nocturnal dream content, and Joe Dane (1985) demonstrated that hypnotic suggestions can increase the frequency of laboratory verified lucid dreams. Many people have also utilized hypnotic and self-hypnotic suggestions for increased dream recall.

The workshop will cover all of these techniques and include experiential exercises with several of them. It would be appropriate for both individuals interested in working with their own dreams and for professional therapists interested in acquiring more techniques for helping clients to explore their dreams.




Barrett, D.L. The Hypnotic Dream: Its Relation to Nocturnal Dreams and Waking Fantasies. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 88, p. 584-591.

Dane, J. A Comparison of Waking Instructions and Post-Hypnotic Suggestions for Lucid Dream Induction. Dissertation, 1985, Georgia State University. (Univ. Microfilms Int. #8503800)

Tart, C. T. A comparison of suggested dreams occurring in hypnosis and sleep. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 1964, Vol 12.


 [abstracts index]  [conference index]  [member pages]

Program Chair: Alan Siegel, Ph.D.
Program Committee: Mark Blagrove, Ph.D.; Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D.; Rita Dwyer; Nancy Grace, M.A.; Roger Knudson, Ph.D.; Richard Russo, M.A.; Richard Wilkerson; Lilith Wolinsky; Dave Pleasants
Conference Co-Hosts: Nancy Lund, M.A.; Steven Smith, M.B.A.; M.A.; Bob Hoss, M.S.
Host Committee: 

Host Committee :Marilyn Fowler (Volunteer Coordinator); Emily Anderson

ASD Homepage