What’s in a dream? (The power of therapy)

What is in a dream?

That is the question that I pose to you today.

Not as a random question, but as one that would trigger your thoughts and lead you to delve into the exploration of the meaning of dreams and how this relates to therapy and therefore to the unconscious.

My counselling training has been covered by a blanket of psychoanalytic theories and wonderful tutors that made these theories come alive.

I am integrative in practice, but at my core I will always have an analytical mind when it comes to exploring the unconscious and the issues my clients bring me.

Freud wrote The Interpretation of Dreams around 100 years ago, and more has been theorised since then.

In this series, I want to talk about Freud’s theory, and possibly also Jung and other theorists, in regard to our dream life.

Why do I find dreams fascinating and worthy of a blog series?

I’m glad you asked.

Let me take you back to 2003-2004.

I started seeing my very first clients at the University clinic in Guatemala, and therefore also decided to start my own therapy process.

There were personal and professional reasons for this. I won’t go into details as that’s between me and my therapist.

I had about a year of sessions with this therapist. She was very traditionally psychoanalytic, so she didn’t say much to me, which suited me just fine.

The things she did say stick to my mind even now, and have been a great source of comfort to me ever since. That’s the power of therapy.

At the end of this batch of therapeutic work, I started talking about a particular topic (again, I won’t disclose what it was, sorry), and tried to open up about it, but it was still not time.

So I “legged” it out of there to never return.

In 2009, I embarked on another counselling course so I could work in the United Kingdom as a therapist – I do believe now, looking back, my counselling training in Guatemala would have been enough to start, but I needed to find my way around the UK way of life and working.

Taking on this course meant another batch of therapy, this time for the duration of the course, as a requirement to graduate. That was fine by me as there were things I needed to work on.

There always is something to work on as the unconscious material from our past beckons us. Sometimes gently. Sometimes more forcefully.


There came a point where the aforementioned “particular topic” came up again, and it was hard.

I believe my words to my therapist were “I really don’t want to go there, but here we are, we might as well do it”.

She checked with me (This one also didn’t say much, but what she said is still having an impact to this day): “are you sure you want to talk about that?”

I said “yes”, probably a crying blubbering mess at that point.

What happened during the next few weeks of opening the proverbial Pandora’s box, was quite something!

I used to have a recurring dream, where I’d always appear in a house.

The house was familiar to me. I wasn’t in a strange place or anything. I knew the place I was in.

It was either my house or a friend’s house.

Lurking somewhere in the building, there was always a room, a door that I was weary of.

What made me weary of it was a mystery to me, in the years that I had the dream, I couldn’t figure it out!

I could never go into that room, or even go near it.

It gave me the creeps. I felt really anxious and had a sense of dread about what I might find if I did open that door.

I’m unsure of what else happened in those recurring dreams. It felt like I was in the house for a long time. Maybe a normal day, with normal things going on.

It’s been a while since I’ve had that dream. I know what stopped it was talking about “that topic” in therapy.

Hence, as I mentioned before, the power of therapy!

I’ve not dreamt that dream ever since those hard sessions, where everything in life felt surreal for a few weeks, but something released.

That unconscious part of myself had lost its power. It had lost its ability to haunt me, in my waking and sleeping hours.

I know that there are lots of more things to explore about “the topic” as there always will be – the unconscious is vast, and will strike whenever and however it wants.

This is why I find therapy so precious – as a process I’ve gone through myself – and as a process I support my counselling clients with.

In the story I’ve just told you, talking through something in therapy made a recurring dream stop.

The symbolism in dreams is truly incredible. I’ve seen it in my own dreams and life, and also in my clients’ dreams and lives.

What we dream says something about who we are, what we’ve sent to the repressed bin of our minds, and what we must deal with before it deals with us.

The end of my recurring dream after that batch of therapy led me to write The Beckoning Rooms.

The idea first came to me a few months after that therapy process.

The book is currently with the editors, but here’s a brief synopsis of it, as a “teaser”.

Jenna, Jeremiah and Jacob all lead normal lives.They all wake up one morning in a strange bed, in a house they don’t know. They wonder why they’re here and how they got there. As they settle into the realisation that there is something that brought them here, a purpose, they all realise that there are rooms that seem to be calling them towards them. The beckoning rooms. They spend 4 nights in the place with the beckoning rooms. Alone. Somehow forced to face themselves and their deepest, darkest thoughts, feelings and lived experiences. They thought they’d left all that behind.

Karin Brauner’s novel provides an insight into the human unconscious, and what we might choose to hide there. Overwhelming lived experiences, emotions or thoughts that are sent here will beckon to us from the deepest, darkest areas of our minds, and won’t release until we’ve dealt with them. Will the characters in the novel deal with the beckoning rooms, or will they remain locked in the strange house forever?

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