Hunter with a Boar

  Waking Dreams

Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life

25 hours on-line over ten evenings

next cohort starts Feb 13th 2023, dates and booking here

free 90min on-line taster events: 16th Oct

(e-mail to register interest/ask questions)



A waking dream sometimes happens upon waking from sleep when a dream continues to feel present alongside an awareness of lying-in bed. 

Waking dream practice (also known as ‘active imagination’ and ‘guided imagery’) takes advantage of the spontaneously creative and therapeutic imagination found in this borderland consciousness in-between waking and dreaming.

This on-line course is an opportunity to learn and apply three developments within waking dream practice with the author of the recently published, ‘Waking Dreams’. In particular:

  • How the generic principles and skills of all image-based transformation and healing are revealed by attending not just to what we imagine, but also to the process of how we imagine in a waking dream.
  • How the creative activity of images in experiential psychotherapy work, the arts and normal everyday life can be approached as an ‘eyes-wide-open’ waking dream
  • How ecological metaphors (rather than the mind-as-machine metaphor) allow for a holistic synthesis of the whole and an understanding of change as emergent and spontaneous.

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.


  • Psychotherapists, Counsellors and Coaches
  • Art, Drama and Family Constellations therapists
  • Eco-therapists and anyone interested in an image-centric approach to ecopsychology
  • Artistic creators (writers, storytellers, painters, directors, etc.)
  • Artistic consumers (novel readers, movie watchers, art gallery goers, etc.)
  • Leaders of change

The course has been designed for therapists and also interested non-therapists. No expert understanding is required and the material is grounded in examples and exercises that go beyond a conventional therapeutic context. As the subtitle suggests, this is a course about imagination in psychotherapy and everyday life.


After attending the course, you will:

  • Have a broad understanding of imagination as present in all perceptions, actions and relationships.
  • Have an appreciation of imagining as a healing and creative therapy in its own right.
  • Have familiarity with a practical step-by-step ‘eyes-closed’ waking dream method.
  • Be able to participate in everyday relationships with people and places, creative projects and generic therapeutic work as an ‘eyes-wide-open’ waking dream.
  • Have a theoretical basis that validates the complexity of imaginative


In collaboration with the Psychosynthesis Trust, the on-line format using Zoom will be a mix of theoretical presentation and practical demonstrations, case study discussion 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 – which will build upon and also feed back into the on-line class learning. 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. A completion certificate will be used at the end of the course.


The course draws upon over fifteen years of research and teaching exploring the meeting place of transpersonal psychology, ecotherapy and Jungian image-based work. The genesis is a critical development of Roberto Assagioli’s psychosynthesis, especially in relation to: the post-Jungian psychotherapists James Hillman, Mary Watkins and Robert Bosnak; the 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 book, Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life’  by Allan Frater.

Read the introduction and first chapter of ‘Waking Dreams’ here.

Module1: 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
  • Parallel imagery

Module2: Exploring. Once established in a waking dream, this second module focuses upon the ‘what next’ question of how to interact with images.

  • Habitual versus creative imagining
  • The three steps of exploring
  • “Novel Images” as triggers of creative possibility
  • Exploring memories, future fantasies and transference dynamics (relationships)
  • Pacing

Module3: 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
  • Personification and animistic imagination
  • The three steps of dialoguing
  • The importance of everyday language and avoiding jargon

Module4: Shapeshifting. How imagination allows for a shift of perspective beyond the limitations of habitual self-identity into the seeing, feeling and thinking of another waking dream character, person, object or place.

  • The distinction between identity and experience
  • The three steps of shapeshifting
  • Shapeshifting and tree-hugging
  • Shapeshifting and therapist countertransference
  • Point-of-view (in Gestalt chair work and other image-based methods)

Module5: Emerging.  How the often irregular and unexpected nature of imaginative change in waking dreams can be understood and approached using ecological metaphors and the notion of emergence in complexity theory

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

Module6: Patterning How by considering a waking dream as a template for a repeating fractal pattern imaginative potential can not only be maintained but also further realised within the activity of images in everyday life.

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

Pre-course: 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.


Allan Frater is the author of ‘Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life.’ He is a psychotherapist in private practice and a teacher at the Psychosynthesis Trust.


-Diploma in Supervision with Soul (2013)

-MA Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy (2011)

-PGDip Psychosynthesis Counselling (2007)




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