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    Waking Dreams

Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life

25 hours on-line over ten evenings

runs twice a year in association with The Psychosynthesis Trust

next cohort starts Feb 2025, register interest with

next free on-line introduction SEPT 2024, BOOKING COMING SOON

Join author Allan Frater and learn how to cultivate a more imaginative life and the many benefits of doing so.

 This popular online course is an opportunity to gain confidence in the principles and skills needed to release imaginative potential – not just as ‘pictures inside the mind’ but also in the activity of images within normal everyday life, work and relationships.

Allan is a psychotherapist with a long-term research interest in image-based approaches to healing, creativity and transformation – which came to fruition in his 2021 book, ‘Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy & Everyday Life’

The course is a chance to share on-going developments in Allan’s work, watch him do live demonstrations with participants, and get his support during practicums to hone your imaginative perception and sensitivity.

Spread across ten evening sessions fortnightly the format gives the time needed to digest and integrate the material into your life and work.

If you are interested in discovering a richer, story-filled and enchanted existence – or a therapist wanting to help others do so – then this might be the course you have been waiting for. 

No expert understanding is required – as the material is grounded in examples and exercises that include and also go beyond a conventional therapeutic context.  

Reviews for ‘Waking Dreams’

“This book strives to recover an amazing skill that not only wanes in adulthood, but has also become lost in practice.” (New Psychotherapist)

“As well as being a guide to image-based client work the author invites us to join him on a journey that could lead to a different way of thinking and being.” (Therapy Today)

“A direct and inspiring immersion in the practice of working with imagination…effectively challenges the assumption that imagination is merely ‘inner’.” (Robert M. Ellis, author ‘Red Book, Middle Way’)

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


Waking dream practice (also known as ‘active imagination’ and ‘guided imagery’) takes advantage of the creative and therapeutic imagination found in-between waking and dreaming – as sometimes happens spontaneously upon gradually waking from sleep when a dream continues to feel present alongside an awareness of lying-in bed. 

The course develops the imaginal perception to better notice, and the skills needed to consciously explore, this waking dream experience – drawing upon significant developments in waking dream practice. 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

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 life

Who is it for?

-Psychotherapists, Counsellors & Coaches

-Art, Drama and Family Constellation Therapists

-Ecotherapists (& anyone interested in an image-centric approach to ecopsychology)

-Artistic Creators (writers, storytellers, painters, directors etc.)

-Artistic Consumers (fiction readers, movie watchers, art-gallery goers etc.)

-Leaders of Change 

 Course Outline

The below modules are based upon the six skills-based chapters in ‘Waking Dreams: Imagination in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life’ 

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: 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

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: 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)

Meet the Course Tutor

Allan Frater grew up on the edge of a small village near Edinburgh, reading comics and walking his dog Jet in the surrounding countryside. He survived an engineering degree and a failed career as a maths teacher by watching movies and reading novels. Inspired by Jack Kerouac and Herman Hesse, he spent his twenties living and working in Buddhist communities where he came across the east-meets-west fusion of transpersonal psychology and eventually trained to become a psychotherapist. His psychotherapy practice and teaching career at the Psychosynthesis Trust have researched the meeting place between transpersonal psychology and an image-based approach to ecotherapy, incorporating paradigm shifting ideas from complexity theory and fractal geometry. Now living in North London, married and middle-aged he feels fortunate to have kept touch with his original sources of inspiration, continuing to read comics and spend time outdoors with his three-legged dog Milly. 


-Diploma in Supervision with Soul (2013)

-MA Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy (2011)

-PGDip Psychosynthesis Counselling (2007)


-UKCP (reg)

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