Promoting systemic thinking, and therapeutic and relationship based approaches in social work


Promoting systemic thinking, and therapeutic and relationship-based approaches in Social Work

Social Dreaming Workshop


Wednesday 8th June


Online via Zoom


9:00 am - 1:00pm




Julian Manley

Social dreaming is a group method that aims to allow shared unconscious thoughts and feelings to emerge in a collective and in doing so to create new thoughts together.

The work of social dreaming was invented by Gordon Lawrence at the Tavistock in the 1980s. The aim was to allow people in groups to share their dreams (which were not so welcome in standard group work settings).

The assumption is that this work is possible and important because our dreams are not just personal but ‘social’. In other words, there are aspects of our dream thoughts that are relevant to others, what Christopher Bollas referred to as the ‘unthought known’ (The Shadow of the Object – Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known).

By allowing these thoughts to emerge, the ‘matrix’ (called this to distinguish it from ‘group’) of participants is better able to face complex and difficult areas of contemporary thinking. For example, it has been used in the context of questions of race and ethnicity, and in the understanding of climate change denial. These difficult subjects are examples of complexity that are sometimes difficult to fathom using standard debating tool and methods, since important thoughts and feelings can be retained and locked away as a defence against the anxieties associated with them.

We will learn through experience, followed up by theory. The experiential work consists of the social dreaming matrix, which is the dream sharing part, and this is followed by the post-matrix discussion, where participants try to make sense of the dream matrix. A theoretical presentation will follow.

Social dreaming is not therapy, it’s a way of thinking together. If you don’t dream much, that doesn’t matter! It s possible to share associations, thoughts and feelings to others’ dreams. The sessions require no preparation and are very relaxed: there is no turn-taking, no pressure, and a participant decides how much or how little they want to offer.

There is no need to know more than this method before attending the workshop. However, if you would like to learn more about social dreaming there are references below.

About Julian Manley:

Dr. Julian Manley works at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. His research focusses on psychosocial applications of visual methods and Deleuzian perspectives, with a particular emphasis on social dreaming. He is a founder member and Director of the Centre for Social Dreaming and author of the only book length academic study of social dreaming:

Places are very limited for this event. Please protect space in your diary once you have registered.

For a general introduction to social dreaming, see:


For the most recent publication on social dreaming, see:

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