Social Dreaming

Social Dreaming is a way of working with dreams where the focus is on the dream and not the dreamer, where dreams are shared amongst people who come together solely for this purpose. With Social Dreaming, the meaning of a dream is about the broader world in which one lives. In a Social Dreaming event, participants are invited to offer their dreams and, through association, explore the possible social meanings contained within them.

Participants at a Social Dreaming event, known as a "matrix", access a potential to create new thoughts that arise from what has been described as the "associative unconscious" (Long). These new thoughts are often an expression of ideas, thoughts and feelings that are deeply held or known but yet to be expressed or thought (the "unthought known", Bollas). This key feature differentiates Social Dreaming from other forms of debate, discussion and dream work.

Dreaming has long been used by communities around the world, including Native Americans, Africans and Australians, to capture thinking about the past and learning about the present, while guiding them towards the future. Social Dreaming builds on this legacy to bring new thinking and meaning to the communities in which we live and work.

Social Dreaming was discovered by W. Gordon Lawrence and further developed by a growing community of Social Dreamers.

My interest is only with dreams that occur during sleep and my preoccupation is only with trying to disentangle their meaning through discovery in order to reveal any links between the unconscious and everyday life conducted in complex societies.
— Gordon Lawrence

How is Social Dreaming used? 

Social Dreaming events vary in length and format and have two things in common: they are supported by trained practitioners known as "hosts"; and, use a core methodology, a "matrix", that allows us to work together to explore the social meaning in our dreams, followed by a "dream reflection dialogue" or similar event where we co-create new meaning.

From their discovery, dreams have been recognized and affirmed as telling about the person and the groups, communities and systems in which one lives. Social Dreaming is used in organizations and communities, for events and conferences, or as a stand-alone forum for discovering the communal meaning in our dreams. Our dreams, when safely shared and worked with, offer understanding and new learning, and become a powerful source of creativity.