Joan Hanger never believed that a career she once mocked on live radio would lead her to interpret the dreams of Diana, Princess of Wales.
She had asked the Princess to write the forward to her second book "Your Children’s Dreams", because a portion of the profits was going to Barnardos Australia, a charity Diana supported.
Having made contact, Ms Hanger then offered to interpret the Princess's own dreams.
“I had this dream," Ms Hanger begins. "I dreamt of two babies - they were hysterical. One kept rolling out of his swaddle and talking to me and I’m going ‘Oh, please' and rolling him back up. The other one was crying... and I’m going ‘Oh my God'."
She shakes her head as if reliving the dream: “So I wake up in the morning and I ring Nene [King] (the former editor of Woman’s Day) and I say ‘I’ve just had this dream, I know I’m going to be meeting Princess Diana. It’s there, the babies are telling me; everything’s going to be great’.”
She went on to meet Diana, with the interview making her one one of the most sought after dream interpreters in Australasia.
“I think I’m the only person in the world doing it (dream analysis] like I’m doing it," she explains. "[So I spoke] to a Jungian analyst. I said: ‘Would it be alright?' (interviewing Diana). Because I had been sent over by Woman’s Day. I have to do it in a magazine. 'Is that allowed?’
"No one ever did that, it’s like they kept it to the psychiatrist's couch.”
Ms Hanger has arrived early to our morning interview,.
She is dressed to the nines with a full face of makeup. As she takes a sip of her coffee, her cup’s rim gradually becomes stained with her signature shade 22 Yves Saint Laurent lipstick.
“It’s not a religion,” she says, flexing her pinky finger on which her Virgin Mary renaissance style ring sits.
“It [dream analysis] has gone through a phase. People think because they have the apps, spiders mean this or something means that but what they don’t take into account is what it means to that person.
The dream is yours and only yours.
In the early 1990s, dream interpretation became a sensation in Europe. Having done radio for the majority of her career, Ms Hanger decided to merge her two worlds.
She pitched her idea to Nene King and was sent to Switzerland to study dream analysis at the Jung Institute in Zürich.
Although she wasn’t a qualified Jungian analyst, the significance behind her studying at the Institute was enough to lift her career. Suddenly, people from all across Australia were sending their dreams to Woman’s Day to be interpreted.
In 1993, because she was receiving a copious amount of requests every day, Ms Hanger decided to write her first book: "In Your Dreams."
As we talk, she rummages through her Bold and The Beautiful tote bag, and fishes out a paperback book no bigger than my palm.
“I wrote it for Mr Packer [James Packer] really, 'cause we sold it through the magazine and he made the money on it.
The stereotypical image of a dream interpreter is of an eccentric, old gypsy - waving her hands over a crystal ball.
Ms Hanger is fully aware of the sceptics, having been one herself. She still doesn’t like to align her image with the “mind, body and spirit” movement, but instead considers her therapy part of the “corporate” world.
Having spent only three months at the Jungian Institute, she admits to learning dream interpretation along the way.
“Everything is a gift if you practice it enough.”
Jungian Psychotherapist Patrick Burnett, explains that dream interpretation is an incredibly complex form of therapy that requires intense training.
Without this, vulnerable individuals could potentially become misinformed, he explains: "Part of the training of an accredited Jungian analyst is that they have to do hundreds of hours of personal therapy and they have to do hundreds of hours of clinical supervision. So, that those dangers are taken into consideration [before] you say something to a person.”
Mr Burnett emphasised the importance of an ongoing relationship with your patient in order to establish trust.
Ms Hanger's patient-therapist relationship with Diana began in 1996 and was cut short when the Princess was killed in a car accident in 1997. She says she couldn't have predicted what was to come for the Royal Family.
I can’t get the Meghan thing at all. I won’t go there, I’m terribly ambivalent about that.
"She (Diana) was very strict about William. She wanted him to be able to cope with all the parameters and the protocols that he was going to face as King. She was very conscious of that. Harry not so much, it’s a second son thing.”
Ms Hanger is now prioritising aspects of her life that took a backseat during her high-profile career. Even though dream interpretation isn’t as popular as it once was, she is a big ambassador of fostering self-awareness through dreams.
“We should be [writing our] dreams down every morning - as they did in the old days. The creativity is there, it’s giving you the images and messages.”
She encourages individuals to use a journal to become more conscious of their mental health.
Her grand-daughter, 21-year-old Eloise Morton, agrees that her own mental health has been impacted for the better, because of that advice.
“I remember sitting on the couch telling my Grandma about my dreams of flight, which she said meant the opening of a new door. I am now an artist."
When I put to her that she may lose clients if everybody interpreted their own dreams, she says she’d be thrilled.
“I want people to do it themselves. It’s a therapy you should be practising and once you do, it gives you a lead into life.” - Audrey Denier @audreydenierr