The History of Dream Group Forum in Finland

The abbreviation of the Dream Group Forum in Finland is SURF, which comes from the Finnish name of our Forum: "Suomen UniRyhmäForum"

The Beginning

One of two main roots of our Forum began year 1980, when during a dream group seminar in Northern Sweden Montague Ullman had a dream about Markku Siivola, one of the later founding members of Forum. His dream made him an instant convert to dreams in a shocking, deeply touching way. The account of this incident, named The Tale of Two Telephone Poles can be read at Dream Appreciation Newsletter 2003 pages 4-5. Because of the impact of this incident Markku found the working key to dreams, and began to have dream groups for both professionals and non-professionals both inside and outside psychiatric settings.

In the nineties the other main root of the Forum was growing elsewhere. Two psychotherapists, Anne Lindholm-Kärki and Kirsti Paloheimo, without knowing anything about Ullman, searched for books about dreams, when one of them dropped accidentally and literally onto her own toes Ullman's book Working with Dreams I had translated to Finnish as Paljastavat unet in 1982. After picking it up from the floor she realized that the book was exactly what she had sought after.

These two main roots finally merged Jan 24, 2003, by founding the Dream Group Forum of Finland. (Forum copied its name from the Swedish Dream Group Forum (Drömgruppsforum) , which is the original Forum, founded 1990 with Ullman and 20 Swedes.) The founding members of the Finnish Forum were, in addition to the abovementioned three, Kirsi Salonen, Margareta Renlund and Risto Santavuori. This group was named as the planning group. The special characteristics of the Forum has been - and still is - its non-hierarchical nature: it is not registered, it has no officiality, no board, no chairmen, no members, no member fees, no financial compensations for anybody, including the planning group and the presenters at its annual seminars. There are no Surf-defined standards, examinations, qualifications and certificates for dream group leaders. They are managed only by the Swedish Dream Group Forum training programs. The Finnish dream group leader list contains individuals considering themselves capable of leading an Ullman style dream group, but the list is unfortunately very outdated.


Ullman's book Working with Dreams, co-authored With Nan Zimmerman, had been published 1979. Markku translated it to Finnish, and it was published in 1982. Markku published in Finnish a small study Uni - tuttu tuntematon (Dream - the familiar unknown), published in the Jyväskylä University publication series in 1984. These texts were many years the principal accounts about Ullman's Experiential Dream Group Process. 

The next thorough study about Ullman's dream group process was done in Finnish at Tampere University Psychology department by Mika Rotola-Pukkila in 1997 in the form of his graduate thesis Unien oivaltaminen pienryhmässä (Appreciating Dreams in a Small Group Setting).

It was followed by:

Taina Suvila's Uniryhmämenetelmä työnohjauksen välineenä (Dream group method as a tool for supervision) at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences was published in 2009.

Silja Heikkilä's applied group process method of transforming a dream to a theatrical performance Vakavaa leikkiä - Unesta esitykseksi (Serious Play - From a Dream to a Performance) at Turku Arts Academy, was also published in 2009.

Merja Manni: Thanatos ja Libido - Montague Ullmanin uniryhmämenetelmä ja kuvan lisääminen uniryhmäprosessiin. (Montague Ullman's Dream Group Method, and adding illustrations to Dream Group Process. University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education & Finnish Artpsychotherapy Association. Published 2010

Silja Heikkilä's Unien tutkimuksen varjoissa - Unien sosiaalinen ja yhteiskunnallinen ulottuvuus unien tutkimuksessa 1900-2000-luvuilla (In the Shadows of Dream Research - The Social and Societal Dimension in Dream Research in the 19-20th Centuries) was published in 2012.

Eija Heiskanen´s: Taideterapian rajapinnoilla - uni- ja kuvataideryhmä ullmanilaisittain (On the Borderlines of Art Therapy - Dream- and Visual Arts Group Application of Ullman Dream Group Process) was published in 2015.

Outi Saleva: Ullmanilaisen uniryhmämenetelmän käyttö yksilöpsykoterapiassa; hyötyjä ja haittoja.(Using Ullman Dream Group Method in Individual Psychotherapy; Advantages and Disadvantages). Jyväskylä University, integrative psychotherapy, psychotherapists' training 2013-2017.

The most thorough account about the original dream group process in Finnish is Markku Siivola's textbook Unien opissa - unet itseymmärryksen palveluksessa (In the Apprenticeship of Dreams - Dreams in the Service of Self-Understanding). It was published in 2008, and as e-book in 2016. It was translated to English as Understanding Dreams - The Gateway to Dreams Without Dream Interpretation in 2011. The English version is available also as Amazon Kindle e-book.


The two main areas of the Forum's activities have from the beginning been the Internet and the annual seminars. Forum's first two-day dream group seminar was held Oct 14-15, 2005. The fourth seminar year 2008 expanded the seminar to three days, and lengthened the dream group sessions to 2½ hours, and in 2015 to three hours.

In 2008, 2015, 2017 and 2019 seminars were held partly in English because of international guests from Sweden, Norway, London, San Francisco, Taiwan, Netherlands and Hungary.

In 2009-2016 Surf had also annual winter seminars.


Facebook groups

The Finnish Dream Group Forum and The International Ullman Dream Group Forum were started in 2012.


Forum's main tasks

...are on the one hand to preserve the originality of Ullman's dream group core process and on the other hand to search for new ways to apply and modify its methods and principles to other kinds of dream approaches and various creative processes, including performing arts and education. Seminars are suitable occasions to have this kind of experimental cooperative activity in various workshop settings besides the traditional dream group sessions. 

One more name deserves to be especially remembered and appreciated: Risto Santavuori; the visionary, creator of the free spirit of Surf and the avid protector of the authenticity of human soul.

Dec 2, 2019

Markku Siivola