The use of dreams in ego state and EMDR therapies for trauma and dissociation


Today, the dreaming mind is understood to improve learning, organize novel solutions to problems from waking consciousness and, thus, creatively support survival. This function, of finding new creative solutions, is also observed in the desensitization phase four of the EMDR protocol and is a key component in Ego State Therapy (EST). Dreams appear to select targets from the client’s history, that are causing problems in current time. In addition, dreams may respond to interventions made during a therapeutic session, as if the dreaming mind were in a dialogue with the client and the therapist. This type of dream leads to a more creative dialogue in subsequent therapy. Repetitive nightmares are the dreaming signature of PTSD, and these too respond well to EMDR and rehearsed changes in imagery, including that of ego states and can result in improved sleep quality. Dreams can offer a resource figure in blocked therapy; demonstrate the validity of ego states and of ego state relationships. This presentation focuses on the use of dreams, in combination with EMDR, as well as EST, for clients suffering from post traumatic syndromes. A review of the literature will be given but primarily case studies and video material from actual sessions will shared.

Learning objectives: 1. Understand the neuroscience that underlies the present state ofknowledge of the dreaming mind/brain 2. Develop skill in using the language of the dreaming mind to improve interweaves and interventions in the course of therapy 3. Develop skills in carrying nightmares forward using EMDR and thus improving sleep quality 4. Formulate a script that explains to clients why dreams and the imagination are useful in therapy. 5. Participate in a practicum on the use of dreams.






Robert Ferrie

Original Work Citation

Ferrie, R. (2012, April). The use of dreams in ego state and EMDR therapies for trauma and dissociation. Presentation at the EMDR Canada Annual Conference, Montreal, QC



“The use of dreams in ego state and EMDR therapies for trauma and dissociation,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 23, 2020,

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