International Network for the Study of Waking Dream Therapy (INSWDT)




Aims of this Network

The common leitmotif among the partners in this international network is that we believe that the images encountered in psychotherapy have a symbolic meaningful quality to them. This network is trying to foster dialogue between similar yet distinct ways of using the imagination/waking dreams in psychotherapy. This dialogue started through the ‘First International Conference on Waking Dream Therapy – Reveries From the Past & Stimuli to the Future’, which was held in Malta in May, 2014 which led to the development of this network. This international network aims to share and pass on the tradition of working with waking dream and the imagination as well as to continue to update the method to contemporary times with innovative research and publications.


About the Project Co-ordinator

My name is Dr. Laner Cassar. I am a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and researcher from Malta, Europe. My main research interests are the use and application of imagination in psychotherapy, education, health and visual arts. I have completed a Ph D at the University of Essex, UK,on Jung’s Active Imagination and Robert Desoille’s Rêve éveillé dirigé method. My network initiative is aimed to create an international professional network for the study, research and promotion of waking dream therapy practice. It has been agreed that a conference every two years will provide a meeting place for practitioners of imaginative psychotherapies as well as interested participants in general. An international journal on Waking Dream therapy is also in the pipeline. I have directed the first video documentary on Robert Desoille – A Master of the Imagination: His Life & Work.


About Waking Dream Therapy

Waking dream therapy refers to an imaginative psychotherapeutic modality. Waking dream therapy uses the patient’s ability to produce an oneiric drama with eyes open or closed in order to access both unconscious problems as well as to unleash one’s potential. The therapist facilitates the start and the development of the oneiric drama or waking dream by giving an initial stimulus. The client is encouraged to move in imaginative space and to face and dialogue with any imaginative encounters and to verbalise in vivo the experienced drama to the therapist as well as to speak about how he or she is feeling. This procedure is done after hearing taking the client’s history and building a relationship with the patient as well as making sure the client is able to use his or her imagination. Images are held to hold symbolic meaning that the patient together with the therapist can uncover. The unfolding oneiric drama is written or recorded and discussed with the patient in the next session.
This psychotherapuetic method can be used with several psychological difficulties and can be used effectively with an adult population, adolescents as well as with children. The method can be used in couple and family work and also in groups.  Furthermore, the principles of Waking Dream Therapy can also be applied to education and health settings.
The method has strong ancient roots, going back to Greek times and the dream incubation practises, and was and is used by shamans in different cultures. At the end of the nineteenth century the study of mental imagery was synonymous with Francis Galton and Alfred Binet. However, the use of waking dreams for psychotherapeutic purposes in the modern history of European psychotherapy is associated with several famous practitioners including the French psychiatrist Dr. Pierre Janet; the Viennese neurologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud who abandoned hypnosis for his free-association technique; the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung who called his imaginative method Active Imagination, the German Dr. Carl Happich and his Meditation technique;  the Italian Dr. Roberto Assogioli’s Psychosynthesis ;as well as the French Robert Desoille’s Rêve éveillé dirigé/ directed Waking dream method. Although waking dream therapy does not have one father or mother, Robert Desoille was one of the main pioneers who practised the waking dream method in a psychotherapeutic setting who also managed to synthesize ideas from Janet, Freud, Jung and Pavlov in his work. After Desoille died the method was updated and integrated into various schools of thought such as in psychoanalytic, transpersonal, humanistic, and somatic therapy.