I had a dream about a remote land where a traveller told tales of his adventures. At the end of the travellers tales, a young boy asked him a question: “How can I climb Mount Ghebo? It’s a magic mountain that changes shape all the time.”
The traveller replied that he didn’t know of this magic mountain, but he did know how to climb it. The boy looked at him with rapt expectation. “Please tell me: How can I climb a mountain that changes shape all the time?”
The traveller smiled. “Just climb one step at a time”, he said.
Although the traveller’s advice might seem simple, there’s a profundity to it. More importantly, my dream gave me the solution to a challenge I’d been stuck with for weeks.
The wisdom of the unconscious mind is sometimes revealed to conscious awareness in dreams or the hypnagogic state between sleep and waking. As Freud famously noted, dreams are “the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious” (1900). But to some extent that’s how all psychotherapy works. It’s not that the therapist reveals the solution to the client: At some deeper level of understanding the client already knows the way forward, but they can’t access that awareness or perhaps can’t engage with it. The relationship between the client and therapist is widely accepted as being the primary source of healing. This therapeutic relationship can enable the client’s other than conscious mind – which is vast and transpersonal – to access deeper wisdom.
See Focusing and the Cognitive Iceberg for more thoughts on how therapy might work. I touch on dream interpretation in my post on Nightmares, and there’s more about the therapeutic relationship in Beyond relationship? The power of therapy outdoors.