Descriptive Example

On the second morning of the group, one of the clients, whom I will refer to as "A," the most introverted, shy and somber male participant in the group, related a dream: "I'm part of a gang which consists of frightening strong men, who curse women."

Step 1

I suggested to the group that instead of interpreting the dream we could respond to the dream with our own experience, as if it was our own dream. This procedure, I said, included the dreamer.

Step 2

"A" says he often feels very attracted to this type of a gang and it is not his first dream about this particular topic, although in real life he has never experienced this situation.

Step 3

The first responses of the group came from client "M," a young and attractive woman, who told how she felt bullied in school. She felt so frightened that she refused to go to school for a while. Client "T," another young woman, described her loneliness. She could not really tell her mother how rejected she felt both in school and in her family, because she did not dare to be a burden on her. Client "U," a man who had made a beginning impression of being strong and spontaneous started to describe his inhibitions with other people, especially with women. Whenever a woman is around he said he felt almost paralyzed, regardless if she is attractive to him or not. To him, every woman is attractive and frightening. Client "R," the third man, joined him by saying he felt very similar, only even more inhibited. He could never look someone in his or her eyes and he wished he was not so weak. He used to strengthen his body exercising but to no avail, as it did not help him to feel more open and secure. Client "A" related that he is often very angry at other people. The cotherapist asked him if he feels angry here in the group and he shouts and curses at us.

Step 4

Both the immediate and obvious responses to the dream as well as later communications, which are less evidently connected, are considered associations to its manifest and latent emotions. I make an effort to collect the responses, including my own, which was a feeling of sorrow and sympathy with the dreamer. I first summarize, aloud, some of the responses and conceptualize some of the contents for the group. I say something about being insecure and fearing the other sex. I describe how it must feel for a young frightened man to have to approach attractive women and how men often are threatening to women. This intervention, which conceptualizes the dream's ability to focus on the group's cross-gender occupation, goes on also in the next few sessions.

Step 5

This step involves the interpersonal use of the dream: at first I said that the dream had stimulated a lot of significant responses from everyone, and asked the dreamer if he felt understood by the responses. He said that he did not understand everything, but some responses were very close to what he felt. Then I asked if we had managed to set up a "Safe Space" for sharing dreams. They did not answer, but I felt my remark had opened another possibility for the group participants and was later corroborated by a second dream which was shared.

Next, I considered the relationships generated by the dream, between the dreamer and the group, and how its overt and hidden communications affected the sexes. My interventions concentrated on two processes in the group: (1) first the steps in A's emotional posi-

lions as a function of the development in the relationship in the group, moving from feeling aggression as a defense against loneliness, insecurity, and resentment toward threatening women to the uncovering of his pain; and (2) the process in the group relationship from his initial wish, conveyed through the dream, to frighten the female participants in the group with his potential violence and denial of their existence.

The women, in the group, actually responded anxiously to the dream's cursing communication, but soon enough they calmed down and their attitude changed to a less frightened, more compassionate one toward Client A and men in general. The strong feelings in both men and women initiated by the dream were used in the group to moderate and mature feelings toward the other sex.

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