benefits of telling your therapist about nightmares

LeiaFlower

Learning
What are the benefits of telling your therapist about nightmares? A while back I had various nightmares, each worse than the last. Three were about my therapist abusing me, with worse involving molestation. Even though I know I couldn’t control them, there’s still shame surrounding them. I tried to forget about them, and I can finally look at my therapist with physically flinching. However, I still can’t go in her office. I know it wasn’t real, that my therapist will never do those things, but the fear is still there. I made it a goal to talk about at least the fear about being in the room. But a part of me wants to lie about her being the abuser in the dream. I just don’t want her to be upset with me or think I’m disgusting for thinking she’ll do that to me. Or at least hide the details on what happened. Is there a benefit to telling my therapist everything that happened in the nightmares?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Totally.

She will not, at all, be upset with you that you dreamt that about her. The dream isn't about her abusing you, but your fears. She will interpret the dream about how you experience things, what worries you, how she can help you.

There is no shame in the dream or having the dream or telling T whatsoever.

Can you imagine telling her and how you might feel if she makes it all ok and responds in a really positive, compassionate, healing way?
Telling her really opens the door to your healing.


I say go for it!
I have told my T all sorts of dreams I have had about her. And going to tell her another one in my next session.
And I can honestly say from my experience: it's well worth working through the feelings that are stopping you from telling,to get the healing through telling and processing.
 

Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
I have had amazing, healthy-interaction dreams about my T, extremely erotic dreams involving T, and outright violent abusive dreams about T; I've told him every time. He's great about talking through it, not making things weird, seeing the emotions and struggles that trigger those dreams, and working through them. Its part of the therapeutic process and any therapist worth their degree will be safe to talk with about difficult dreams. Dream-processing has been one of the most beneficial parts of my therapy, and a lot of fun for both of us!

I say go for it. Tell your T when you're ready. If you can't actually TALK about it, write it down or email it to them (if they allow that) before a session, mentioning you want to deal with this. It's totally worth it. Good luck!
 

LeiaFlower

Learning
She will not, at all, be upset with you that you dreamt that about her. The dream isn't about her abusing you, but your fears. She will interpret the dream about how you experience things, what worries you, how she can help you.

I have done a lot of preparation if I do go forth with discussing the dreams. I think the main fear that was persistent through all of them was the fear that this person that completely trust is only being nice to get something from me. But once I upset them or when they want something then the obligation comes that I now “owe” them by allowing the abuse. I took note of the emotions that came up during and after the nightmare, as well as the physical side effects. I’m hoping by staying analytical about it will prevent a panic attack I’m sure will come when I talk about it.

it's well worth working through the feelings that are stopping you from telling,to get the healing through telling and processing.
I agree, one of the last nightmares put all my fears center stage. I’m by at least talking about it, the fears will subside. I just don’t want the nightmares to come back.

seeing the emotions and struggles that trigger those dreams, and working through them. Its part of the therapeutic process and any therapist worth their degree will be safe to talk with about difficult dreams. Dream-processing has been one of the most beneficial parts of my therapy, and a lot of fun for both of us
thanks for sharing how it went for you. It really eased some of my anxiety. I do want to progress more in therapy, and not be scared to share certain things with her. I wrote everything down, but I think reading it might be best even though it’s the scariest way. I usually have the tendency to avoid things by not speaking. Though I guess that’s not avoiding it if I still write it and hand it to her. I guess I’m holding myself at high standard. Thinking, if I’m not able to physically say it then I shouldn’t talk about it. I guess the best approach would be to write it out in a way where I can read from it or give it to her if it gets too much.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
for the most part, i found little or no benefit in telling any of my therapists or even peer supporters the details of my nightmares, not even the ones who encouraged me to use a dream journal to deal with those nightmares. it was enough to be open about the fact that i was being plagued by nightmares. the exception to that general gee was when they had starring roles in the nightmares. i uncovered and remediated quite a few psycho snot knots in those cases.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Totally get what you mean when you feel that if you upset someone or do something wrong they can manipulate some abuse situation.
I have had that fear with my T too. That if I do something to upset her she will either terminate me, or just abuse me because she can and because I am there. Or I will turn her into an abuser because that's what I do: make people abuse me.
But these are also all really great things to talk to your T about.

Go with how you feel in the session. No pressure for you to say or do anything. There will be another session. So if it doesn't feel right to say in one session, you can save it for another.
You're processing a lot of things in one go and you can give yourself as much time as you need for all of it.
 

LeiaFlower

Learning
Totally get what you mean when you feel that if you upset someone or do something wrong they can manipulate some abuse situation.
I have had that fear with my T too. That if I do something to upset her she will either terminate me, or just abuse me because she can and because I am there. Or I will turn her into an abuser because that's what I do: make people abuse me.
But these are also all really great things to talk to your T about.

Go with how you feel in the session. No pressure for you to say or do anything. There will be another session. So if it doesn't feel right to say in one session, you can save it for another.
You're processing a lot of things in one go and you can give yourself as much time as you need for all of it.
Yeah, the fear that if I say the wrong thing I'll be terminated, or suggested to someone else is prominent in rather or not I say certain things. At first it wasn't a justified fear now I'm not so sure. During one of my sessions I was able to mention how one of the nightmares I was being forced to talk about other nightmares (a surreal moment to have a dream where I'm talking about another dream), regardless when I brought this up at first she mentioned maybe finding another therapist might help with the fears. I'm not for sure if it was the blank reaction she received from me or what, but right after she reasoned that maybe the closer I am to someone the harder it is for me to speak. Though her first reaction to referee me to someone else poured more fuel into the fear that if I say I'm having nightmares then she'll referee me elsewhere.

And I agree in having the idea that I cause the abuse, even in the dream she stated that I was the reason she was upset and I was the reason that she was doing this.

I'm sort of laughing to myself with the last statement because I am a very impatient person. In the sense that I have talk about everything now as if there will be no other opportunity to do so in the future. When I do freeze up out of fear, and when I can't speak then I'm overly critical of myself. I think I ruined my session and that I'm the reason I can never progress. I'm working on rearranging the negative self talk, but it's a long process.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah, the fear that if I say the wrong thing I'll be terminated, or suggested to someone else is prominent in rather or not I say certain things. At first it wasn't a justified fear now I'm not so sure. During one of my sessions I was able to mention how one of the nightmares I was being forced to talk about other nightmares (a surreal moment to have a dream where I'm talking about another dream), regardless when I brought this up at first she mentioned maybe finding another therapist might help with the fears. I'm not for sure if it was the blank reaction she received from me or what, but right after she reasoned that maybe the closer I am to someone the harder it is for me to speak. Though her first reaction to referee me to someone else poured more fuel into the fear that if I say I'm having nightmares then she'll referee me elsewhere.

I can totally imagine how that comment would land. I would feel the same. Maybe it's worth exploring that with her? Because maybe she meant something else or maybe she has reflected and she regrets saying it?
I had something similar when I mentioned something once and me and my T had a big rupture. We spent a couple of sessions with me exploring if I could talk about something with her again and asking all about it and her reaction and what happened. She allowed me to ask anything I wanted, and she explained her responses and she apologised. All that helped. Might help you?

I'm sort of laughing to myself with the last statement because I am a very impatient person. In the sense that I have talk about everything now as if there will be no other opportunity to do so in the future. When I do freeze up out of fear, and when I can't speak then I'm overly critical of myself. I think I ruined my session and that I'm the reason I can never progress. I'm working on rearranging the negative self talk, but it's a long process.
Yeah, I kinda picked that up! 😀 I'm the same. Fix everything yesterday already. Which is also a trauma response I think.
Letting the process take it's time, is ok.
I read somewhere that taking it slower speeds it up.
Totally understand the feeling of ruining the session. Or not getting enough from it. But: even if you are silent , that's still communicating something. Lots. It's a frustrating process for sure. But, it's going to take some time regardless of whether we want it to or not! So may as well go with the flow. And it is good practice to challenge the negative self talk: it's a safe way to do that.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
One benefit I can think of. It ended 45 years of nightmares. One month of therapy until I found the key. That and the most terrifying part of my nightmares, the part my T helped me find, was part of my trauma.

You need to understand that all your input goes through the Fight or Flight interpreter first. So all it can do really is assign varying levels of fear to everything. But its a lie. In fact PTSD lies to you all the time. When exposed to the light of grounded thought and conscious decision the fear evaporates because it wasn't real in the first place.

Dream stuff is weird at best but...Its not the weirdest stuff you are going to talk to your T about by miles. Trust me. I'm not where I need to go but like the Grateful Dead said "What a long strange trip it's been."
 

LeiaFlower

Learning
"Letting the process take its time, it's ok. I read somewhere that taking it slower speeds it up. Totally understand the feeling of ruining the session. Or not getting enough from it. But: even if you are silent, that's still communicating something. Lots. It's a frustrating process for sure. But, it's going to take some time regardless of whether we want it to or not! So may as well go with the flow. And it is good practice to challenge the negative self-talk it's a safe way to do that."
I just had my session with her and I told her about one of the nightmares. At first, it was hard because I held the idea that I had to get through all of them at once; however, she reminded me to celebrate the small wins and allow myself to breathe afterward. So, I'm probably going to spend a few sessions talking about them. But I am proud of myself for finding the courage to speak up. I will try to keep at least the beginning of my sessions talking about my week or other things that make me happy before diving in. The next nightmare isn't as bad, but the two afterward I'm still petrified with the idea of saying them aloud. Even though time and time again she proved she wouldn't react negatively, I'm still scared about what she'll think of me. Though I still want to tell her anyways.
 
Top