I find my subconscious and dreams alerts me to problems or emotions in the conscious world. It's not only just the symbols that pop up in them, but also how I am feeling that is an indication of such. I cross-reference my dreams to understand how I am feeling as well as my thoughts. I research the symbols that pop up, even though I typically have an idea what they mean already, I still want to verify the meaning behind it. The spooky thing is, I've had a couple prophetic dreams where the event that happens in them happens in real life.
I've even had music come to me in dreams, and it's signified important pieces for me in the waking world. It's like the music becomes a channel for my subconscious as well as the dreams themselves.
I think of dreams as something quite useful for me to understand my innermost thoughts and emotions, though.