Counseling Psychology and Dream Tending

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on May 12, 2017, 12:27:41 PM

A guest post by Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D.

counseling-subimage.jpgPacifica's first Graduate Degree program was in Counseling Psychology, an extension of Pacifica’s then named Counseling Skills Certificate Program with roots in community mental health. Next to the University of California Santa Barbara, we offered outreach peer counseling to returning veterans coming back from Viet Nam as well as working with individuals dealing with drug and alcohol related challenges. What a time it was! All of us were learning the newest "treatment" strategies and methods, just then evolving out of the "Human Potential Movement." Our mentors were folks like Virginia Stair, Erik Erikson, Fritz Perls, and all kinds of leaders in the emerging fields of couples and family therapy. Combine this with a sprinkling of Ram Dass, the Grateful Dead, and too many others to count, we developed increasingly sophisticated counseling skills that to this day form the core of what we now know as a professional M.A. Counseling Psychology Program with emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Clinical Counseling, and Depth Psychology.

When I work with Counseling program students, I find that those same core ideas of Empathic Regard, Attainment, Presence, Patience, Reflection, Systems Awareness, and Psychic Depth underpin the craft of Dream Tending. To tend a dream is to "follow" not "lead" the dreaming psyche. Listening to the living images of dreams involves our full body and conscious awareness as well as an appreciation of the intelligence indigenous to the imagination in all of her expression. I can think of no better training for the practice of Dream Tending than a background in Pacifica's program of Counseling Psychology. When I work with these students, I facilitate their applying many of the tools that they have learned in the program to the art of Dream Tending. Both were birthed out of the same fertile soil of a psyche centered orientation.

Dr. Aizenstat will present Introduction to Dream Tending: A Practical Approach to Dreamwork on July 14-16. More information can be found here:

Take a look at the two M.A. Counseling Psychology courses that introduce and expand the idea of Dream Tending into the work of marriage and family therapy, and professional clinical counseling:

Depth Psychology Theory and Practice I: Analytical Psychology

Depth Psychology Theory and Practice IV: Dreamwork in Clinical Practice


Stephen_Aizenstat.jpgStephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is a professor of depth psychology with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, licensed marriage and family therapist, and a credentialed public schools teacher and counselor. Dr. Aizenstat has provided organizational consulting to companies and agencies and teaches extensively worldwide. Dr. Aizenstat has explored the potential of dreams through depth psychology and his own research for more than 35 years. His Dream Tending methodologies extend traditional dream work to the vision of an animated world where the living images in dream are experienced as embodied and originating in the psyche of Nature as well as that of persons. His work opens creativity and the generative process. His book, Dream Tending, describes multiple new applications of dreamwork in relation to health and healing, nightmares, the World’s Dream, relationships, and the creative process. His other recent publications include: Imagination & Medicine: The Future of Healing in an Age of Neuroscience (co-editor with Robert Bosnak); “Dream Tending and Tending the World,” in Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind; “Soul-Centered Education: An Interview with Stephen Aizenstat” (with Nancy Treadway Galindo) in Reimagining Education; Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning; The Soul Does Not Specialize: Revaluing the Humanities and the Polyvalent Imagination, with Dennis Patrick Slattery and Jennifer Leigh Selig: “Depth Entrepreneurship: Creating an Organization out of Dream Space”, in The Transforming Leader: New Approaches to Leadership for the Twenty-First Century; and “Fragility of the World’s Dream”, in Eranos Yearbook 2009-2010-2011 Love on a Fragile Thread.

Topics: The Psyche, Counseling Psychology, graduate school, images, active imagination