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Student Profile: Jonathan Gerson, CEO and Founder of the DreamRem® Institute
Recently, we caught up with Jonathan Gerson who is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and the CEO and Founder of the DreamRem® Institute. Jonathan is a graduate of CityU’s Master’s in Counseling Psychology. We asked him about his institute and how he has used the MACP that he got from CityU. Here is what he had to say…
City University of Seattle: Tell us a little bit about you’re the DreamRem® Institute?
Jonathan Gerson (JG): The mission of the DreamRem® Institute (DRI) is to provide training for those going into the field of geriatrics to prepare them for successful careers. The DRI aims to train and certify therapists in the DreamRem® Method. The DRI aims to provide direct group and 1:1 counseling situations using the DreamRem® Method and plans to market software products to aid seniors suffering with Dementia and related illnesses.
The purpose of the DRI is to advance the healthy functioning of seniors using the DreamRem® Method. The method is a complete approach to providing appropriate mental health interventions to all seniors particularly those who suffer with dementia and related illness. One aspect of the method focuses on conducting a life review and on finding “pockets of memory”, where the elder can reminisce with or become reacquainted with major accomplishments. The DreamRem® process has as a therapeutic goal of bolstering self-esteem and counteracting the self-destructive elements living with dementia.
CityU: Who is well suited to go to the institute?
JG: Many people will benefit from the DreamRem® Method. The patient with early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease whose self-esteem improves when being guided by a DreamRem® Practitioner, the spouse of the person living with dementia who attends a DreamRem ® Workshop or DreamRem® Class, a home health care worker who is recently entering into a career in geriatrics who needs more instruction in how to work effectively with an frail elderly person.
CityU: I understand DRI may have come out of your Master’s thesis, how did that happen?
JG: The creation of the DreamRem® Institute directly sprang from the research I did in partial completion of my master’s Thesis – “The DreamRem® Method – A new approach to Geriatrics”.
My thesis centered around a four month research study that I conducted on an elderly patient residing in the Cascade Vista Nursing Home. It was at that time I coined the phrase ‘DreamRem’. I trained her to record her dreams nightly and to report what she experienced when we met in the morning. At that time I realized that the mind is very suggestible and the analysand (a person undergoing psychoanalysis) responded well to the nightly saying that “I want to recall and record my dreams upon awakening.” Gradually, she recalled her dreams with a higher and higher frequency. Her dream reports lead directly into a discussion, and then lead into placing fragments along a timeline. Gradually the dream fragments informed and illuminated the analysis. Fragments were amplified into reminiscences and this helped to create a narrative about the patient’s life achievements. The dream journaling acted as a catalyst for a larger tapestry of the analysand’s life. At the end of the four month case study the analysand felt she had reflected upon her life achievements and felt somebody witnessed and honored her story. She died peacefully few weeks after the study was completed. Out of this study grew my DreamRem® Method and the DreamRem® Institute.
CityU: Why did you come to CityU to get your master’s? And, what was your experience like once you came?
JG: When deciding to get my Master’s of Counseling, I looked at many colleges. I needed to continue my 9-5 job as an Activities Director and wanted to get this master’s on the side. City University of Seattle met my requirements and my busy schedule. It was perfect for me. The Saturday classes were very well taught and I found the caliber of the returning students to be very high. Since I knew I was going to continue my specialization in geriatrics, I asked my professors if I could focus my research on geriatric counseling topics. CityU professors went out of their way to accommodate me. The many papers I wrote and the expert guidance I received from the MACP faculty on how to run groups allowed me to open up DRI.
CityU: How old is the DreamRem Institute and what do you hope to accomplish in one year, five years, then ten years from now?
JG: Dr. Stephen Guild and I opened up the DreamRem®Institute in June of 2010. I have run groups from the DreamRem® Portfolio since 2005, when I finished my degree. Dr. Guild actually handed me my diploma at graduation. Little did I know our destinies would cross again later, when Dr. Guild returned from living abroad in Brazil. When he returned, I said “Steve, I want to help seniors with Alzheimer’s disease to stay active, connected and vital all of their lives, so I’m opening the DreamRem® Institute.” It was in that conversation that I asked him to be DRI’s Executive Director. I couldn’t pay him much, but said, “Someday I think we will look back and say we made a difference in senior’s lives.” He took the position and now as DRI approaches its third year, a lot of exciting things are beginning to happen.
CityU: Now that you have formed an institute around something you are passionate about, where do you want to take it?
JG: Thinking about what I want to do in the next ten years, I would say in one year I want DRI to establish a local presence and run DreamRem® Groups around Washington State. I also want to start training people in the DreamRem® Method and find a new home for the Institute.
In five years, I want to have a software product on the market for those interested in telling their loved ones life story. And, in ten years I want to open DRIs around the country and the globe.
I would say what my drill sergeant in the U.S. Army said, “Attention to details gentlemen.”
CityU: Any last words you’d like to share about DRI?
JG: DRI just lost its physical address in Redmond. So if you know of a community that would like to host us, please contact me at 206-498-9535. Our postal address is: P.O. Box 85175, Seattle, WA 98105. We are very excited about our new website that Dr. Stephen Guild designed. You can go to our website here or simply Google the word DreamRem and you will find us. Our hours of operation are when we hold events and run groups for residents of local senior communities.
CityU: Any last words you’d like to share with our students or other graduates?
JG: Never give up hope, we all have genius in us, the education system tends to talk us out of our own genius. We tend to dismiss a thought because it is ours. This is wrong. Trust yourself. You know more than you think.
I hope that my study of sleep, dreams, memory and dementia helps plant seeds of a new neuroscience revolution where all people young and old alike will see the brain and its complexities as the a route to developing humanities full potentials. Dream On!
A big thank you to Jonathon for catching up with us! To find out more about our counseling program, go here.