Dr Jennifer parker [dreamshrink]
Which is your specialty in psychology?
I am a dream researcher and addiction specialist. I researched dreams for 20 years and been active in the field of addiction for 30 years. I have worked as a senior lecturer at a UK university.
What types of clients do you work with?
I work with people with a addictive behaviours. I am particularly interested in sex and love addiction, co-dependency, adult children, gambling, and internet addiction. I build strong collaborations with people who take part in my research seeing them as 'co-researchers' rather than 'participants'.
Is there a web site or blog where we can learn more about you?
for further information contact
How do you market your services? Where do your new clients come from?
Watch this space!
How obsolete is Freud today?
He has considerable influence in dream psychology. It seems he had the basic principles right (e.g. that dreams are motivated by psychic energy), but he focused too much on sex. I think it is always a shame when someone throws Freud out without regard. He was a pioneer who dared to talk about child sexuality. He also gave psychology the 'case study' as a research method. There are strengths and weaknesses in every psychological theory.
What are some simple things that one can to do to fight stress and anxiety?
take gentle exercise
have a regular sleep hygeine program
have a strong support network of old friends for when times get rough (as they always do)
remember that everything changes, and so will your mood.
laugh as often as possible
love if you can
imagine the object of your fear as a mouse with a mircophone
use the wonderful strategy of prioritising things that need doing, so you don't get overwhelmed
Depression is almost epidemic. What is going wrong on the societal level?
Such a hard question to answer. I sometimes think that just about everything in Western culture is 'wrong.' People I talk too about this often say they have an existential feeling of "there must be more to life than this?" The media creates images of how we should look, what we should have, how we should be and it takes embarking on a spiritual (not religious) journey to find out that depression is caused by something not being right in one's life. It's an inside feeling, but then so is happiness. I guess a person's attitude has a lot to do with how they perceive the world. It is important to remeber that you are not what has happened to you.
We have medicalised the mind to the extent that we treat the symptoms not the causes of mental distress. New research is showing that ecopsychology works really well with depression. Get out and get walking in the countryside; be close to nature. For some reason this activity, if taken regularly, improves mood significantly.
This is a very quick answer to a question I could write a book on.
What do dreams mean?
I would suggest people steer away from global interpretations and explore their dream content/images for personal meaning. For example, a dog as a dream character would mean very different things to a dog lover vs. someone who has been attacked by dogs. Dare to follow your dreams, you will be amazed where you end up!
Why is it so difficult for us to forgive ourselves?
I will always fall short of my expectations of myself.
I am harder on myself than I am on anyone else.
BUT - until I can show myself the same care and compassion as I would for a friend, I cannot give it to others.
Acceptance is the key
What does the phenomenon of falling in love consist of? Is there a cure?
Part a of the question - It depends who you are! Love has a physiological component - Oxytosin. It also has a huge psychological component.
Part b of the question - Not if you are a Love addict - sorry.
What are the keys to creating healthy relationships?
IT is really simple:
Have a healthy relationship with yourself, first.
Have a plan for the type of relationship you want. Dont settle for less.
Get to know someone BEFORE you sleep with them, unless you just want casual sex with no expectations.
People expect sex to equal intimacy. Sex isn't intimacy - intimacy is being able to be completely honest and yourself with someone - even the jagged bits.
If you feel uncomfortable or mistrusting - It isn't YOU!!! I have never worked with anyone who has had that gut feeling that something isn't right, where they have been wrong.
Trust your intuition - it won't let you down. Ignore your instincts at your own peril, they may come back to bite you later.
What new trends in psychology have stirred up your interest the most?
The concept of 'emotional sobriety'
How is the creative personality different from others?
Creativity is just more conscious in the 'creative' person. Everyone is creative they may just not practise it. I find creativity in the strangest things - like the family with no money who figure out how to eat each day. It's not just about painting, poetry, or music for me.
What is a “healthy” ego?
A healthy ego is the right size! No better or worse than anyone else. Hard to do, but great when I achieve it. Best way I can describe it is sitting on a beach, looking out at the sea and feeling in my gut that the world is a huge place, and everything is transient, but the world will still be here when I am gone. But in the midst of this feeling knowing that I am unique and will only pass this way once. I hope that makes sense :-)
What kinds of people do you think are at high risk for addiction?
Research shows that people who grow up in families with an addictive behaviour are 50% more likely to develop a behaviour of their own or to get into a relationship with someone like their parent(s).
A much more inspiring question is: What helps develop reslience in children and young people so they have the skills to avoid the pitfalls of mind-numbing, emotionally stunting, addiction?
What books do you recommend to help us develop a better understanding of ourselves?
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Anything By Carl G. Jung
Close to the Bone: Life threatning Illness as a Soul Journey by Jean Shinola Bolen
The People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck.
The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom
In the past there was a lot of stigma associated with going to therapy, but now it is rather fashionable. When is and when isn't help from a psychotherapist necessary?
It's the person's choice. I would never tell anyone they should (or shouldn't) have therapy.
Give us a simple prescription for happiness
If it doesn't bring you joy - DON'T DO IT!!
Dr Jennifer parker