By Jessica Fairchild
“Dreams are the perfect therapy tool,” said Fort Lewis College counselor Colin Smith, who has been working at FLC and with dream circles for about thirty years. Prior to this, Smith worked as an English and Psychology professor at an alternative high school, as well as taught dream psychology classes in the early 80’s at FLC. I met with Smith to discuss the importance and effects of the exclusive dream circles he facilitates weekly on campus.
Q: What are dream circles?
A: Most importantly, they are a safe environment for students to come partake in group therapy. Since dreams tell us where we are at present, as well as what’s coming up, they are group meetings designed to assist interpersonal growth.
Q: Why are dreams the perfect therapy tool?
A: Dreams tell stories, our personal narratives, helping us confront conflict in the unconscious and solve problems to make us interested and interactive in our lives.
Q: What purpose do they serve?
A: Generally speaking, people don’t have good social and emotional education systems. The dream circles help students get cognitive insight for social and emotional development. They are a laboratory for people to practice and understand symbols, which are vital to use because they tell us what we feel. In a culture that is outer world oriented, rather than interpersonal, the groups address this shortcoming.
Q: How do students get involved?
A: Most of the time, students hear about the dream circles and come find me or are referred to me by faculty who are familiar with the therapy tool. But it is also a very serendipitous endeavor.
Q: How often are the dream circles held?
A: We host two different group sessions, one on Tuesdays and the other Fridays. There are eight students per group plus myself and one graduate student (the counseling center is also a training facility). Every student is screened to maintain a safe group setting.
Q: Are the circles successful?
A: Yes very! They are tested and researched by the graduate students who are involved. We also teach students how to interpret, record, and retain their dreams for future life assistance.
A big thanks to Colin Smith for his time and help.