Three Asheville, NC therapists on pandemic dreams

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Hi, Asheville. 👋 It’s Brook. I recently had a violent physical altercation with reality TV personality Mama June at a crowded house party. She became irate when I asked her to step away from me + maintain proper social distancing. She refused to back down or away, so I made my point explicitly clear

To quote my man the Notorious B.I.G., it was all a dream

This isn’t the first bizarre dream I’ve had since quarantine began, and they seem to be becoming more frequent, and I know I’m not alone. The intense + vivid dreams that are taking place globally during the pandemic are so widespread they’ve been dubbed “quarandreams.” 

I asked folks on social media to recommend local professionals who might be able to speak to this phenomenon, and y’all didn’t disappoint. I reached out to several counselors, all of whom noted their patients report experiencing more intense dreams than usual since the pandemic began. 

Dreams have long vexed + fascinated both professionals and laypeople. Some see dreams as a “data dump” for the mind, while others see them as insights into our mind’s inner workings

Sue Hunter, a counselor specializing in Jungian-oriented therapy, sees dreams as a way to help folks work through their issues. “The basic premise around dreams is that they are there in the service of wholeness and healing,” she says. “Our unconscious communicates through dreams.” She has observed many patients having more blatant + literalrather than symbolic — dreams. “Some folks report having dreams where they can’t hug or touch someone, or they hear mentions of the name of the disease in their dreams,” she says. 

While these sorts of literal dreams are atypical, Sue acknowledges that they make sense given the fact that we’re living through a global pandemic. “Is there any one of us walking around in conscious life not thinking about this?” she says. “It’s impacted all our lives, jobs, and we all have it on our minds all day long.” 

Lissa Carter, a therapist in private practice at Inner Light Counselling Collective, notes that the pandemic has brought up an extraordinary amount of feelings for people. “A lot of us are dealing with emotions we’ve never had before,” she says. “It’s a collective experience we’re having while being separated from other people. Our dreams are reflecting that.” 

“With dreams, the psyche works to heal or work through things we may not be able to address when we’re awake,” says psychotherapist Karen Batka. “We often use them to work through loss.” She says “even the patients that don’t normally report or remember their dreams” are bringing them up, and that they’re reporting both pleasant + unpleasant dreams since the pandemic. Some folks recall happy dreams of reunions, travel, and loved ones, whereas others have nightmares. Karen adds that a shared sense of grief can help explain the prevalence of pandemic dreams “because we all have experienced various personal losses, and we are aware of the losses around us.” 

Want to better understand your own dreams? Karen recommends jotting your dreams down immediately upon waking so you don’t forget them and to write down any adjectives or descriptors you associate with anything that stands out. Joining a dream group, such as the one Sue Hunter facilitates, can also be useful. 

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you’re able to find meaningor at least entertainment — in your dreams. As for me, I’m just hoping mine no longer involve reality TV stars or fisticuffs.

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