Esoteric power, useless, useful: considerations about dreams in cognitive-behavioural therapy


  • Antonino Carcione | Third Centre of Cognitive Therapy, Rome; Scuola Italiana di Cognitivismo Clinico (SICC), Rome, Italy.
  • Marta Santonastaso Scuola Italiana di Cognitivismo Clinico (SICC), Rome, Italy.
  • Francesca Sferruzza Scuola Italiana di Cognitivismo Clinico (SICC), Rome, Italy.
  • Ilaria Riccardi Third Centre of Cognitive Therapy, Rome; Scuola Italiana di Cognitivismo Clinico (SICC), Rome, Italy.


For a long time dreamwork in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) was considered useless and as a technique specific to psychodynamic approaches, consequently overlooked in the treatment course. In the last twenty years, thanks to the contribution of neuroscience studies on sleep and dreams, dreams joined the attention and interest of authors belonging to the CBT field. The central feature of dreamwork in CBT is the abandonment of the exploration of latent meaning, which is instead considered in continuity with the waking life. Dreams reflect a patient’s view of self, world, and future, and are subject to the same cognitive biases as the waking state. Consequently, the dreamwork can be used to get information about the patient, overcome impasses in therapy, restructure self and interpersonal schemas, and stimulate reflective functioning. Therefore, guidelines have been defined and models of well-articulated intervention in terms of process and content, replicable and teachable through specific training structured. This paper aims to provide an overview of theories regarding the use of dreams in CBT, from a clinical perspective, from Beck to more recent proposals.



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Special Section: Working on dreams, from psychotherapy to neuroscience
Dream, dreamwork, cognitive-behavioural therapy, schema, cognitive biases.
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How to Cite
Carcione, A., Santonastaso, M., Sferruzza, F., & Riccardi, I. (2021). Esoteric power, useless, useful: considerations about dreams in cognitive-behavioural therapy. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 24(2).

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