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Liberating Joy from Loss: Use of Prescriptive Memory-Making

Liberating Joy from Loss: Use of Prescriptive Memory-Making

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Earn 1 Credit for Technique Module toward 
Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy
Offered by the Portland Institute.

Presented by

Nancy Gershman, LMSW

Psychotherapist and Memory Artist

BHAVA Therapy Group

USD$99 for 3-hour module

This module introduces Dreamscaping, a novel, process-directive and photo-based therapy.  Moving from process through product, the therapy is punctuated by novelty-finding and the elicitation of purpose and joy.  The practitioner works with a client’s memory to locate the fleeting, joyful bits so often overshadowed by loss that no new insights can emerge.  It is intended for clients who may be haunted by distressing images, questions, gaps in memory, dark thoughts, elephants in the room, problems with self-esteem, which have put life, dreams and connections on hold.  Its playful approach begins with excavating a client’s most precious felt-sense memories, then joining the client there to figure out ways to enhance or build a new (prescriptive) memory from lived experience so that it becomes the place where healing can happen as clients move from isolation to reintegration in the world.


Through clinical vignettes and subtitled audio clips from live modeling, dreamscape templates and neuroscience schemas, learners will discover exactly how prescriptive memories are compounded in a client’s imagination.  They will learn specifically how in the first hour of Dreamscaping, the process of prescriptive memory-making jumpstarts adaptive coping with the loss event; how the dyad “brainstorms” a liminal space where affection and moments of connection can exist in another time and place just in the imagining of it; and lastly, how the product crafted in the second hour of Dreamscaping (the tangible rendition of the prescriptive memory) can positively influence one’s life in the here and now.


  • List three identifiers for suitability in short term stand-alone therapy and ongoing grief therapy, and contraindications for Dreamscaping;

  • Understand the Dreamscaping process (prescriptive memory-making) and product (the tangible object, or “dreamscape”) through an Identity Reformation focus; 

  • Describe three ways in which Dreamscaping’s brain-based approach “violates the expected,” launching memory reconsolidation and the updating of a distressing long-term memory; and

  • Describe three scenarios where sharing the dreamscape’s mythic narrative with a formerly alienated support network—is akin to Rynearson’s Restorative Retelling work.

Note:  Completion of this program and return of the Responsive Journal satisfies 1 Technique Module required for Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy.


This program contains the following video segments:

  1. Cultivating What Feels Good:  The Art of the Dreamscape Interview (34 mins)
  2. Sparking Memory Reconsolidation:  A Mini-Case Study (30 mins)

  3. Making the Impermanent Permanent:  Constructing A Tangible Image (22 mins)

  4. Recovering A Father’s Legacy:  A Live Demonstration (42 mins)


  • A semi-structured protocol;

  • Classic Dreamscape Template;

  • A couple of Case Anatomies that feature the imagery received by the client, accompanied by a branching tree of the actual questions posed by the therapist during the steps of Dreamscaping; and

  • The Responsive Journal that, upon completion and return, confers 1 credit of Technique Module leading to Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy.


Guest Presenter

Nancy Gershman, LMSW is a board-certified, licensed clinical social worker with BHAVA Therapy Group in New York City, a memory artist and developer of Dreamscaping, an imaginal, photo-based therapy.  An international presenter who regularly supervises practitioners using Dreamscaping, her publications include Prescriptive Memories in Grief and Loss: The Art of Dreamscaping (Routledge, 2019) with Barbara E. Thompson, and case studies in Robert A. Neimeyer’s Techniques of Grief Therapy (Routledge, 2012, 2016).  Her Dreamscaping work with end-of-life patients and their families at Visiting Nurse Service of NY’s Haven Hospice was featured on NY1’s “New Yorker of the Week” (2016).  Since 2013, she hosts Death Café New York City.

Nancy Gershman, LMSW

Photo - Nancy Gershman.jpg

USD$99 for 3-hour module

For other enquiries, simply email Carolyn.

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