Trusting the unconscious

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Counselor Brandenburg holds a diplomate in Dreams Analyst, he poses for a light painting photo. Photo illstruation by J. Del Valle

By  J. Del Valle

James Brandenburg is a diplomate in analytical psychology (dream analysis) with training from Centrum Institute in Bethanien, Switzerland. He also has four other degrees he has earned throughout his career. Brandenburg has been a counselor since 1988 and with this college since 2004.

Brandenburg talked about the background and the founders of dream analysis.

Carl Gustav Jung, who was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, founded the Union Institute in Zürich, Switzerland, in the late 1940s. He died in 1961, but his work influenced many fields in medicine and science.

Mother Marie-Louise Van Franz, a Swiss Jungian psychologist and scholar who specialized in fairy tales and mythology, was Jung’s right hand. She was a student under Jung. When Jung died, she carried on the leadership role.   

“I have been studying dreams for years and one of the sources to study dreams is in Switzerland,” Brandenburg said. Jung and Van Franz collaborated on the outline of studies for students because they would have to live in Switzerland for four to six years. They wanted a training institute that people could go to a few times a year to study and then work with a dream analyst in their home country. Van Franz founded the Research and Training Center in Depth Psychology in 1995.

“The program is very difficult to get accepted into and once accepted, it is very intense; it takes about eight years to complete the program,” Brandenburg said. “I myself was able to complete in 4 1/2 years.”

Brandenburg said it’s a very in-depth program.

“It’s like a Ph.D. program because you need to provide a thesis and defend it, write interim essays and take diploma exams,” Brandenburg said.

According to the method of dream analysis, Brandenburg said people experience the unconscious through dreams, projections, waking fantasies, mental illnesses and synchronicity.

“Working with the unconscious, most people don’t know that it’s everything that we don’t know in consciousness,” Brandenburg said.

“Dreams are not for everybody. They are symbolic,” Brandenburg said. “It can solve issues so people can move on with their life or it can take years to analyze a dream.”

Brandenburg went to a presentation on dream analysis that eventually led to joining a group, and from there he had his first one-on-one with a dream analyst and got hooked.

Brandenburg has a private practice that has been open since 1992 where he counsels and has one-on-one sessions with patients on dreams.

Brandenburg was a teacher before he was a counselor. He has taught German, English and theater, and he always had students and people come to him with their problems.

“Dreams have different levels,” Brandenburg said. “Dreams have five cycles a night and 90 minutes in each dream.”

However, he said, “Most people don’t pay attention to their dreams.”

Brandenburg sees five patients a week for dream analysis at his practice and nine to 10 students a week at this college.

It has been so useful for Brandenburg that he uses it for his practice and as a counselor.

“It has changed my life. I have learned to trust the unconscious and how it communicates,” Brandenburg said.

“Students who want to track their dreams should write them down every day; some people keep a notebook by their bed,” Brandenburg said. “They should write down as much detail as they can remember.”

Colors represent meanings in a dream and in reality. For instance:

Blue — coldness, calm, depth, detachment, peace and tranquility.

Red — passion, creative, feminine. 

Yellow — light, human consciousness, moon and stars.

Green — nature, renewal, growth.

Purple — royalty, blends of red and blue bringing opposites together.

“There is art in remembering your dreams. You have to work at it. You have to write them down, and a dream analyst can help with the symbols and the interpretations,” Brandenburg said.


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