‘Before You Let the Sun In’ – Book review: Ten short stories of dramatherapy

‘Before You Let the Sun In’ is a new book written by Ian Robertson and Dr Katerina Couroucli-Robertson, and is an intimate and real-life insight into the powerful relationships between a therapist and a client, and a walk-through of some of those therapy sessions. The book consists of ten short stories that give the reader an exclusive glimpse into the dramatherapist’s therapy room

The more attentive amongst you may notice that ‘Before you let the sun in…’ is a well-known Dylan Thomas quote (from Under Milk Wood), quite appropriate then that this book is released in the same month as International Dylan Thomas day takes place.

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Katerina, the therapist who co-wrote the book, describers her interactions with clients, as well as some of the techniques used in the therapeutic process. The stories in the book are based on real cases, but contain a start, middle and end which is not always the case in real life.

The ten case studies range from themes of obesity, depression, past memories and overcoming a persistent stammer. It is a great insight on the skill of a therapist and the techniques employed for the challenges that people overcome.

Dramatherapy can help a person or a group member take responsibility for their life through the use of aesthetic distance and theatrical metaphor. It involves working and playing to enhance creativity, imagination and insight – and can help people to develop the ability to express a  range of emotions and increase their knowledge of themselves and others.

This book is quite unlike anything I have read in recent times, it weaves storytelling with real-life issues, and each story becomes an absorbing read.

before you let the sun in therapy book

The book is already causing a stir online thanks to the intriguing content. If you would like to win a copy of the book, you can enter a competition by following the below Twitter link (competition ends 18/05/18, UK only):

Here is a short extract from the book, let me know what you think:

Chapter 5

The woman who loved stories

Reality often appears to be at variance with myth and fairytale. David seldom defeats the giant. Little Red Riding Hood may survive her encounter with the wolf, but his long teeth and big eyes are likely to haunt her for the rest of her life. So, why do myths and fairytales fascinate us? Are they a means of restoring our sense of justice? Do they present the world in a way that makes sense to our ordered minds? Or has it nothing to do with logic at all? Since time out of mind, man has had a need for stories, both to record events and entertain, but also perhaps to heal or at least alleviate the pain and hardship of life. Aren’t delirium and delusion extreme forms of creative invention, in which the mind distorts reality, coping devices engineered by the brain to enable us to survive in a heartless environment? Fantasy takes the edge off reality, which is often too painful to bear in its unadulterated form.

In my work as a therapist I have frequent recourse to myths and fairytales. As Marie-Louise von Franz put it, “The fairytale is like the sea, whereas myths are like the waves on the sea,” the one rising out of and dipping back into the other. While myths are the crystallisation of man’s image of himself and his knowledge of the world, fairytales are the embodiment of our emotional world, our fears, our hopes, our longings. As with any story we read, the backdrop is always ourselves and our lives. If it were not so, how could the same story elicit such diverse interpretations and varied reactions? We impose our¬selves and our experiences on every story we read and inter¬pret it accordingly.

Why, as young children, do we want the same story read to us over and over? And later, as we grow older, why do we reread the same book without the least diminution of our excite¬ment or pleasure? What is it that only that particular story can arouse in us? Why did I as a child read The Caravan Children again and again? Was it to familiarise myself with emotions that I found profoundly satisfying? Or did the story contain something that was lacking in my own life? Security? Or its opposite? Companionship? Happiness? Love? Camaraderie even? Why did I have such a deep yearning for the travelling life of a caravan child?

Semiramis was one of my most interesting clients. She was referred to me by a fellow therapist, who was unable to see her herself because of a close friendship with a relative. Though it was not made clear to me what her problem was exactly, it appeared that she wanted to make a significant life change and sought the help of a therapist. All my colleague told me was that Semiramis was a quiet, introspective woman with an interesting past.

Semiramis came to see me for the first time in late October, quite a few years ago now. It was one of the first really cold days of autumn, with a bitter wind blowing out of the north. Rain had been predicted, but if anything fell it would almost certainly be sleet or snow.

Despite her concerted efforts to dampen her beauty, Semiramis could not hide her attractiveness. She had the face of a young girl, round and pink, but around the eyes were the telltale signs of premature aging. Though at a distance one could have mistaken her for a woman in middle age, she was in fact only in her mid-thirties. Her large sensitive blue eyes were shrouded by dark-rimmed glasses that made her look like a conservative 1950s American secretary. She was a good ten kilos overweight and reminded me of someone who had had a number of children one after the other and was too tired or too busy to make the effort to attend to her figure. Her clothes were not dowdy as such, as they were stylish and well cut, but they were all greys and dark blues, designed for a much older woman, or a woman who wished to pass unseen among her fellow passengers on the deck of life.

As she entered my office, her attention was immediately drawn to the paintings on the wall and the various tools of my trade, the figurines and curios that line my shelves, sal¬vaged from seashores, pavements, and rubbish bins or picked up in nonsense shops, along with the sand tray, rolls of paper, markers and water colours, and, of course, books, lots of those, full of stories, myths, and fairytales silently crying out to be read. The sparkle of excitement in her eyes was reminiscent of a child entering a playroom full of toys—Alice stepping into Wonderland.

Before You Let the Sun In is released May 2018, published by Sphinx, an imprint of AEON Books, priced at £14.99. For more information see: http://www.aeonbooks.co.uk/

 

I received a copy of the book but no payment for this unbiased feature.

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11 comments

  1. You are totally right! This book seems so different from the rest of books that I have seen around! I like the premise of the therapist and the client! I will totally keep this book in mind! and thank you for the extract, I find it really interesting and appealing! I like the style of the author!

    Liked by 1 person

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