International Association for the Study of Dreams

IASD Ethical Guidelines   

The International Association for the Study of Dreams is a non-profit, international, multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the pure and applied investigation of dreams and dreaming. Its purposes are to promote an awareness and appreciation of dreams in both professional and public arenas; to encourage research into the nature, function, and significance of dreaming; to advance the application of the study of dreams; and to provide a forum for the eclectic and interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and information.



Abbreviated Ethical Statement

The International Association for the Study of Dreams acknowledges the value and importance of the study of dreams and recognizes the responsibility inherent in such study and its consequent applications. The Association encourages its members to exemplify the highest standards of ethical behavior in whatever involvement they may have with dreams. Members are thus encouraged to do their utmost to respect the rights and dignity of other persons; to be honest, accurate and open-minded in the presentation of information and ideas; to insure privacy and confidentiality in dealing with clients, research subjects or members of the general public; and to prevent and avoid any situation where a conflict of interest may compromise the capacity for making prudent and objective decisions and responses.

In keeping with these broad principles, the Association considers it unethical, at its own conferences and programs, for members to use direct solicitation or persuasion for economic or self aggrandizement. Presenters are expected to be honest and accurate in the communication of their own credentials and competencies.



IASD celebrates the many benefits of dreamwork, yet recognizes that there are potential risks. IASD supports an approach to dreamwork and dream sharing that respects the dreamer's dignity and integrity, and which recognizes the dreamer as the decision-maker regarding the significance of the dream. Systems of dreamwork that assign authority or knowledge of the dream's meanings to someone other than the dreamer can be misleading, incorrect, and harmful. Ethical dreamwork helps the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings, and associations, and guides the dreamer to more fully experience, appreciate, and understand the dream. Every dream may have multiple meanings, and different techniques may be reasonably employed to touch these multiple layers of significance.

A dreamer's decision to share or discontinue sharing a dream should always be respected and honored. The dreamer should be forewarned that unexpected issues or emotions may arise in the course of the dreamwork. Information and mutual agreement about the degree of privacy and confidentiality are essential ingredients in creating a safe atmosphere for dream sharing.

Dreamwork outside a clinical setting is not a substitute for psychotherapy, or other professional treatment, and should not be used as such.

IASD recognizes and respects that there are many valid and time-honored dreamwork traditions. We invite and welcome the participation of dreamers from all cultures. There are social, cultural, and transpersonal aspects to dream experience. In this statement we do not mean to imply that the only valid approach to dreamwork focuses on the dreamer's personal life. Our purpose is to honor and respect the person of the dreamer as well as the dream itself, regardless of how the relationship between the two may be understood.

Prepared by the IASD Ethics Committee
Carol Warner, Chair
Association for the Study of Dreams
Spring, 1997


If your site and dreamwork activities comply with this statement, we recommend linking here to

You can find buttons that say "We Follow IASD Ethics" at the Dreamwork Ethics Buttons site.

You can build your own dreamwork ethics statement with the following template: Dreamwork Ethics Template

IASD Short Mission Statement
from the Articles of Incorporation:

This corporation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation and is not organized for the private gain of any person. It is organized under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation law for charitable purposes. The specific purposes for which this corporation is organized are to promote scientific research into the study of dreams and to provide an educational forum for the interdisciplinary exchange of such information among the scientific and professional community and the general public. The means for promoting scientific research and providing such education include, but are not limited to, conducting workshops and conferences available to both interested professionals and the general public and to periodically publish research related to studies into dreaming.

IASD Extended Mission Statement from the Bylaws:

 The primary objectives and purposes of this association shall be:

(a) to promote a greater professional and public appreciation of, and awareness about, the dreaming process.
(b) to provide a forum for the eclectic, interdisciplinary exchange of information among members of the scientific and professional community and the general public who are studying and working with dreams.
(c) to promote the undertaking of scientific research into the mechanism, role and function of dreams.
(d) to provide a broad spectrum of educational programs having appeal to professionals and dream specialists including, but not limited to, sleep physiologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers, clinical social workers, other therapists, dream group leaders, health care professionals, educators, artists and anthropologists and to members of the general public.
(e) to periodically publish professional quality newsletters, journals and/or similar printed media containing articles and papers about dreaming, such materials to be available to the membership and to the general public.
(f) to sponsor conferences and other special events which are open to professionals and the general public which further the serious study and use of dreams.

For more information and complete IASD Bylaws, see 2008 Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation

Statement of Ethical Concerns

In articulating a statement of ethical concerns regarding the study of dreams, the members of the Association for the Study of Dreams acknowledge not only the value and importance of the personal and professional study and use of dreams but also the responsibility inherent in such study and use. The Association also recognizes that, since the study and application of dreams is undertaken in such diverse contexts, it is neither possible nor appropriate to set forth specific standards for the proper enactment of this responsibility. Nevertheless, the Association does wish to establish and make clear its expectations regarding its own membership.

To begin it should be understood that while membership in The International Association for the Study of Dreams clearly indicates an interest in this study, this membership should not be taken to imply competence in any given field of the study or application of dreams. Nor should membership in the Association, which is open to anyone, be taken to imply any endorsement whatsoever of the activities of those persons maintaining such membership.

Nevertheless, it is expected that all members of The International Association for the Study of Dreams will do their utmost to respect the rights and dignity of other persons in whatever formal or informal involvement they may have with dreams. It is expected that members will make every effort to insure the welfare both of those persons who may seek their services as well as of those persons whose assistance or participation members themselves may seek in their own dream related activities. Furthermore, IASD members who are researchers and practitioners are expected to be familiar with and conduct all of their professional activities in accordance with the established standards of their respective professions.

In addition to these general ethical requirements of its members, the Association hereby makes clear its intention to establish and uphold three basic principles with regard to its own functions and to the conduct of those who are involved in carrying out these functions. Such functions include but are not limited to the Annual International Dream Conference, local programming, IASD sponsored professional presentations and media coverage associated with any of the above activities.

Principle 1: The Upholding of Honesty, Accuracy and Openness

All invited speakers and presenters for IASD functions or programs as well as all officers, board members and other persons serving IASD in any official or unofficial capacity are expected to make every reasonable effort to insure the presentation of accurate, complete information and the free exchange of ideas and alternate points of view. More concretely, this general principle may be understood to include but not be limited to the presentation of one's own credentials, competencies, training and education as well as one's own activities whether these be scientific, academic, social or clinical in nature. This principle may also be taken to include but not be limited to the presentation of accurate, unbiased information and resources regarding dreams and dreaming whenever a member offers or participates in any IASD functions.

Principle 2: The Avoidance of Conflict of Interest

All invited speakers, presenters and workshop leaders for IASD functions as well as all officers, board members and other persons serving IASD in any official or unofficial capacity are expected to make every reasonable effort to avoid situations which may present a conflict of interest or which may compromise their ability to make objective and responsible decisions. These persons shall not unduly exploit their responsibilities with and for the Association for the Study of Dreams nor their involvement in any IASD related program or function to further their own personal, political or business interests. Such undue exploitation of their association and responsibilities with IASD may be understood to include but not be limited to the active solicitation of clients for private practice; the use of position, trust or dependency to engage in sexual harassment or activity; and the concerted pursuit or acceptance of immoderate material or financial gain.

Principle 3: The Insurance of Informed Consent, Privacy and Confidentiality

All invited speakers, presenters and workshop leaders are expected, in all IASD activities, to obtain free and informed consent for any participation required by or offered to others. It is understood that such consent involves an adequate disclosure of purposes, requirements, benefits and risks of the activity in question and that such consent not be obtained under conditions which may be perceived as threatening or coercive. Furthermore, it is expected that all invited speakers, presenters and workshop leaders will, in all IASD activities, respect the privacy of others and take every reasonable step to insure that personal information gained while engaging in these activities be kept confidential.  



We, the Board of The International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), therefore adopt and recommend the following fundamental principles and elements as necessary for any adequate training program for professional work with dreams.

We define dreamwork in the following way: any effort to discover, speculate about, and explore levels of meaning and significance beyond the surface of literal appearance of any dream experience recalled from sleep. This would include anyone serving in the role of psychotherapist, counselor, educator, or group facilitator in the interpretation or exploration of dreams for the purposes of providing psychotherapy, personal growth, or spiritual guidance for others.
The ETHICAL CRITERIA FOR DREAMWORK TRAINING published herein are suggested basic criteria for those engaged in, or aspiring to undergo approved training in, working with dreams, and IASD assumes no responsibility in connection therewith..

These criteria are designed to apply to practitioners whose practice is exclusively or mainly focused on work with dreams. To the extent that other practitioners include work with dreams as part of their practice, these guidelines should also apply to them.

Formal human service work utilizing dreamwork, as defined above, should conform to all existing regional and national laws regulating the practice of health, mental health, pastoral counseling or spiritual direction. The publication of these criteria is not to be considered as an endorsement by IASD of a particular training paradigm, nor are they to be considered as qualifications or grounds for certification for serving the role of psychotherapist, counselor, educator, or group facilitator in interpretation of dreams for the purposes of providing psychotherapy, growth, or spiritual guidance for others.

(1) Any program training people to work with dreams should have a clearly stated ethical component. We recommend the "Statement of Ethics for Dreamwork" adopted by the IASD as a foundation for ethical components of dreamwork

(2) In accordance with this basic Statement of Ethics, any program training people to work with dreams should emphasize that all dreams may have multiple meanings and layers of significance. Programs which offer to train people to work professionally with dreams (i.e., responsibly, for pay) are free to emphasize one particular technique or theory over others, but in order to achieve minimum standards for adequate professional training, these programs must expose their students and trainees to a representative variety of different techniques and theoretical models that include an overview of current approaches in the field, and an historical and crosscultural perspective of human studies and therapeutic approaches to dreams.

(3) Any program training people to work with dreams should include a significant component of an adequately supervised practicum, face-to-face work with dreams, both one-to-one with individuals, and facilitating group experiences. As electronic media become more and more a feature of our lives, IASD wishes to encourage dreamwork training programs to extend this supervised practicum component to include telephonic, computer-linked, and other "media" as well, always making sure that these training experiences are carefully supervised by thoroughly skilled practitioners.

(4) At the outset, any program training people to work with dreams should have clearly stated written goals, as well as clearly stated written policies regarding the evaluation of student/trainee progress and performance.
Professional training programs should provide written evaluations of students' and trainees' progress and performance in a timely fashion.
Evaluations of student/trainee work and progress should be applied equally to all students regardless of background. Written descriptions of educational goals and requirements, ethics, and evaluations policies should be made available to students prior to registration for the training program.

(5) Any program training people to work with dreams should focus serious attention on the universal propensity of people to naively attribute their own less-than-conscious values, feelings, ideas, and judgments to others.
Sometimes called "projection", or "transference" and "counter-transference", this universal tendency must be addressed directly and made more conscious in the process of professional work with dreams.

(6) Any program training people to work with dreams should require its students to have done substantial work on their own dreams with qualified practitioners, and to commit themselves to ongoing personal dreamwork with qualified practitioners and supervisors.

(7) A program should assure that the practitioner has at least some basic knowledge of related fields, such as group dynamics, psychology, psychiatry, medicine. These additional areas of knowledge should be detailed enough to ensure as far as possible that no harm is done to the dreamer or group member through errors of omission or commission by the practitioner. In addition, any program training people to work with dreams should require its students or established practitioners to be alert to signs of and to obtain assistance for their personal problems at an early stage, in order to prevent significantly impaired performance. When students or established practitioners become aware of personal problems that may interfere with their performing work-related duties adequately, they should take appropriate measures, such as obtaining professional consultation or assistance, and determine whether they should limit, suspend, or terminate their work-related duties.

(8) When dreamwork is done to help persons with any psychological problems, the practitioner should have an appropriate professional degree and license in addition to the dreamwork training.

(9) Any program training people to work with dreams should offer and require a minimum familiarity with the history of dreamwork, not just as a preoccupation of Western culture, but as a world-wide phenomenon. Once again, professional dreamwork training and education programs are free to emphasize one element of this diverse history over others, (e.g., the Western medical/psychiatric tradition of dream exploration), but they must also present the student/trainee with a sufficiently diverse historical overview that includes exposure to at least some of the aboriginal and non-European traditions that view dreaming as means of communion with realms of spirit. It is recognized that the meaning and use of dreams may differ across and within cultures. When there are ethnic and/or cultural differences between the dreamer and the counselor, psychotherapist, dreamwork teacher, or spiritual guide these should be attended to and respected. Discussion of, sensitivity to, and respect for cultural differences both within and among cultures should not only be observed but considered an opportunity for greater communication and understanding.

(10) Although dreamwork training for specialists (such as medical practitioners, therapists, social workers, etc.) will require further training beyond these basic areas, even specialized education and training in working with dreams should conform to the fundamental principles outlined here. Those who are licensed or regulated by regional or national requirements must follow those requirements for training and practice in specialty areas in addition to the guidelines described herein.

(11) Those trained in dreamwork must demonstrate continued formal and informal study in their areas of expertise to refresh old skills and keep abreast with important developments in the field. It is recommended that a minimum of 15 hours per year be devoted to enhancing or reviewing areas of skills. Formal course work at accredited institutions, workshops with highly qualified practitioners, or continuing education offered by the Association for the Study of Dreams are ways to meet this requirement.

(12) Professional practitioners of any skill have an ethical obligation to pass on to succeeding generations the substance of their specialized knowledge in a coherent and accessible fashion. This is as true for those who work with dreams as it is for many other professional group.

(Adopted by the 2001 [I]ASD Board of Directors)


International Association for the Study of Dreams