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Online course

Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life

The principles and skills of image-based transformation and healing

25 CPD hours over 10 evenings | £390 plus booking fee

A waking dream, also known as ‘active imagination’ and ‘guided imagery’, explores the borderland consciousness in-between waking and dreaming – as sometimes happens on waking from sleep when the dreamworld continues to feel present alongside an awareness of lying-in bed.

Based on the book of the same name this on-line course goes beyond a standard presentation to share new opportunities within waking dream practice.

Often presented as no different to sleeping dreams – as a means to generate image content for later interpretation – the course will instead focus upon the continuation of consciousness while imagining in a waking dream. The blend of waking and dreaming is taken as a real-time interaction with images that grants the opportunity to become familiar with not just the content of what we imagine but also the process of how we imagine.

You will learn the theoretical basis and practical step-by-step method of ‘eyes-closed’ waking dreams alongside a wider image-centric approach to psychotherapy and everyday life as an on-going ‘eyes-wide-open’ waking dream.

By the end of the course, you will have an appreciation of imagining, not just as a means to rational insight, but as a valuable experience and creative therapy in its own right.


If you are interested in cultivating a richer, story-filled and enchanted existence – or a therapist wanting to help others do so – then this might be the course for you. It is intended for anyone who wants to enhance imaginative life. In particular it will be of interest to:

  • Counsellors, coaches and therapists
  • Art and Drama therapists
  • Eco-therapists and anyone interested in an image-centric approach to ecology
  • Artistic creators (writers, storytellers, painters, directors, etc.)
  • Artistic consumers (novel readers, movie watchers, art gallery goers, etc.)


  • The principles and skills of waking dream practice
  • How to notice and participate within the activity of images in everyday life
  • How to distinguish real-time imaginative process from analysis of content in retrospect
  • A critique of standard theories of imagination
  • How imagining is healing and transformative in itself
  • The relevance of waking dreams to generic therapy-work with memories, transference/countertransference dynamics and other image-based methods such as drawing, empty-chair Gestalt dialogue and family constellations.


The on-line format using Zoom will be a mix of theoretical presentation and case study discussion, practical demonstrations and practicum group work to cultivate waking dream skills. There will also be suggestions and e-mail support for an off-line project exploring your life, work and environment as a waking dream. The group size will be capped at 15 students. The slideshow, exercises and any case studies will be distributed by e-mail three days before each session. The evening sessions will be fortnightly and run between 6pm and 8.30pm GMT.

The next intake will be autumn 2021 – so do join my mailing list or follow me @wakingdreams20 to stay informed.


The course draws upon and develops ideas from many sources. The genesis is a critical development of hidden potential in the transpersonal techniques of Roberto Assagioli’s psychosynthesis, especially in relation to the post-Jungian psychotherapists James Hillman, Mary Watkins and Robert Bosnak. Further influences come from ecopsychologists Theodor Roszak, Jerome Bernstein and Nick Totton, the work of David Abram and the recent integration of psychotherapy with complexity theory and fractal geometry by Terry Marks-Tarlow and Robert M. Galatzer-Levy.


The below modules are based upon the six skills-based chapters in the forthcoming book, ‘Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life’ by Allan Frater, to be published with summer 2021.


You will be prompted to submit a brief outline of your desired outcomes and a reading list will be provided, for optional pre-course study.

Module 1: Entering.

The course begins with a clarification of the quality of imaginal perception needed to enter a waking dream – both the ‘eyes-closed’ variety and the novel ‘eyes-wide-open’ application within generic psychotherapy and everyday life.

  • The hypnagogic state in memory, present moment perceptions and future fantasies
  • Fantasy versus imagining as a matter of degree
  • Imagination as a synthesis of all the senses
  • The three steps of entering
  • Entry points: generic, bespoke and spontaneous
  • The therapist role and parallel imagery
Module 2: Exploring.

How to move, act and explore the terrain of a waking dream is shown to cultivate the creative dimension of imagination as the ability to conceive of new possibilities.

  • Novel images as triggers of dramatic tension
  • Habitual versus creative imagining
  • Present tense imagining and the transference relationship
  • The three steps of exploring
  • The therapist role and pacing
Module 3: Dialoguing.

How dialogue in a waking dream requires a subtle shift of attention from physical sounds to auditory images.

  • Similarities and differences between imaginal dialogue and everyday speech
  • Animistic imagination
  • Writing as a form of dialogue
  • The three steps of dialoguing
  • The therapist role and language
Module 4: Shapeshifting.

The ability to empathically enter into the experience of another living being is an imaginative movement beyond the limitations of habitual self-identity – a shift in the centre of imagining or point-of-view into the seeing, feeling and thinking of a colleague, client or character in a waking dream.

  • The distinction between identity and experience
  • The three steps of shapeshifting
  • Shapeshifting and tree-hugging
  • Shapeshifting and therapist countertransference
  • The therapist role and point-of-view in Gestalt chair work
Module 5: Emerging.

The promise of predictable outcomes by many image-based techniques can be seen to be at odds with the often irregular and unexpected nature of developments in waking dreams. This tension is examined via the underlying metaphors within theories of imaginative change. In particular, the linear determinism of the ‘mind-as-machine’ metaphor in psychodynamic approaches and the notion of emergence from ecological metaphors and complexity theory.

  • Living and dead metaphors
  • The limitations of a mechanical theory of imaginative change
  • Images as ecosystems
  • Complexity theory in waking dreams
  • Aspects of emergence: synthesis, unpredictability and small changes
Module 6: Patterning

How by considering a waking dream as a template for a repeating fractal pattern we can remain within an image-centric paradigm that allows imaginative potential to be not only maintained but further realised within the activity of images in everyday life.

  • Fractal Imagination
  • Fractal scales of attention
  • Fractal process versus mechanical content
  • The three steps of patterning
  • Fractal pattern and entry-points to waking dreams
  • The therapist role and language


Allan Frater has been a core trainer at the Psychosynthesis Trust since 2011 and currently teaches on the Essentials, Foundation and Counselling Diploma programmes. Key subjects taught include: guided imagery, creativity, meditation and the will. In his teaching and psychotherapy practice he takes inspiration from the emphasis on imagination within Psychosynthesis and Jungian approaches. His MA dissertation ‘The Imagination Imagined’ explored how different ways of thinking and talking about imagination actively shape imaginative experience. He is the author of the forthcoming ‘Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life’ to be published this  summer by transpersonalpress.


  • Diploma in Supervision with Soul (2013)
  • MA Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy (2011)
  • PGDip Psychosynthesis Counselling (2007)
  • MBACP(Accred)
  • UKCP(reg)

Find out more: Twitter: @wakingdreams20

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