How to Find the Theme of a Dream

One of the most effective ways to obtain a clear picture of the overall dream is to extract its essential theme.  What is a theme?  For our purposes here, a theme may be defined as a summary of the dream’s plot or a statement of its action.  It is not, however, equivalent to the “moral” of the dream.  Examples of dream themes are:  “Someone is giving something to someone else, “ or “Someone is running away from something.”

One benefit of extracting a theme from a dream is that it simplifies what can be a confusing or obscure experience into a clear, concise statement.  Of course, a complete consideration of the many aspects of the dream is neglected in the process of reducing it to its essential theme.  However, the extraction of a theme often makes the dream clearly applicable to daily living, even when the dream in its entirety may seem far removed from conscious understanding.  By working with the theme, we can more easily bring the information contained in the dream into practical application.  And as the work of application takes place, we can expect the unfoldment of a deeper understanding of our dreams.



  1. Limit yourself to a one-sentence summation of what is happening in the dream.  If the dream is long and changes scenes, write a theme for each action.
  2. Focus on what is happening.  Verbs will be more important than nouns (ex. I am running away.  I am feeling rushed)
  3. Make frequent use of words like “someone” “somewhere,” “something” or “things” to replace specific people, places, or objects (ex. Someone is blocking someone; Someone is putting two things together).
  4. Don’t interpret the dream or a specific symbol.  Don’t include any assumptions or conclusions in your statement of the themes that are not in the dream itself.
  5. Don’t hesitate to let the statement of the dream be short.  Often a brief statement is easier to work with. 

Dream Recall Techniques    The 5-Step Approach to Dream Interpretation