Group Dreamwork Utilizing Computer Mediated Communication

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Saybrook Graduate School
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


John W. Herbert

Saybrook Graduate School
Copyright 2000 by
Herbert, John W.
All rights reserved.

Personal experience has suggested that an excellent route to learning about the significance of dream metaphors is to discuss those metaphors in a group setting. Group dreamwork utilizing Ullman's "If it were my dream" protocol in face-to-face (FTF) environments is a matter of record. Since the expansion of electronic communications is changing the nature of community from geographic locales to interest-based groupings, the intent of this study was to determine if elements from Ullman's method could be applied to group dreamwork using computer mediated communication (CMC).

A phenomenologically based pilot study using a single dream first compared responses to the dreamer's statements of an FTF dream group with those from a CMC group. The pilot study was specifically limited to the consideration of the use of effective language. The computer group generated more meaningful responses (chi square, N=23, df=2, pē.001). The technical issues of electronic communication were addressed next, using 29 groups which were formed and tested on 5 Bulletin Board Systems. Using action research as a method while acting as a participant/observer, protocols were developed for group dreamwork utilizing CMC on bulletin boards and e-mail. Group members contributed to the design of the eventual format for online group dreamwork. Developmental dream group participants consisted primarily of members of America Online, Seniornet, or the Association for the Study of Dreams.

Protocols for CMC groups were developed and conducted utilizing bulletin boards, e-mail, and combinations of the two. The procedure was modified as required. Listserv type dream groups were joined, and extensive participation in real-time online dreamwork included formats of electronic auditoriums, and public and private chat rooms. A thorough discussion of issues of privacy and confidentiality was included in this study.
Dreamers' feedback attested to meaningful dreamwork using computer mediated communication. Issues concerned with spirituality and right livelihood occurred frequently in dream metaphors. The increase of dream related Websites will add to the resources available to those searching for more understanding of their dream metaphors.

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John Herbert, Ph.D.