Jungian psychotherapy, like psychoanalytical psychotherapy, is a form of depth psychotherapy in which attention is paid to the unconscious. In addition, counseling from the perspective of analytical (Jungian) psychology is about allowing the person’s distinctive individuality to unfold. We carry within ourselves a unique potential, which when fulfilled leads to psychological wholeness. When this process is hindered we may become unhappy, feel that our creativity is blocked, or develop other symptoms.
In the analytical psychology framework, emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or obsessions are not viewed solely as something to be rid of. They are a sign that something has gone awry in the process towards wholeness. They serve as pointers to areas in need of attention and growth. What we are not conscious of, what is beyond our field of awareness contains both the source of our suffering and also the seeds of our healing.
In Jungian counseling, we embark on a joint exploration of what happens inside of you that you may not be aware of, and discover how it affects you. You talk about your feelings, thoughts, wishes, and what may be going on between us. We pay additional attention to that which is beyond your field of awareness through dream work, active imagination, sand tray, art or other processes. The journey can be a process of healing and transformation, which might lead you to discover your personal meaning in life or to develop a deepened sense of spirituality.
Common questions about Jungian therapy
What is Jungian therapy?
Jungian therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the ideas and methods of the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung (1875-1961). It is a depth psychotherapy, in that it works with the unconscious and our relation to the unconscious. In analytical psychology (also called Jungian psychology) the unconscious is viewed not only as a place where unwanted thoughts, feelings and memories are repressed and stored (therefore later causing emotional difficulties), but also as a potential source of creativity, spirituality, healing and wisdom. The goal of Jungian therapy is to facilitate individuation, the becoming of the unique person one is meant to be. Psychological symptoms are viewed as a sign of something blocked or gone awry in this process.
Who can benefit from Jungian psychotherapy?
Jungian therapy can help people struggling with a range of emotional problems, including depression and anxiety; it is especially suited to assisting anyone seeking personal growth. Analytical psychotherapy adapts to the needs and goals of the person. Therapy can be supportive to help through a challenging time, can be short-term to focus on a specific problem, or can be longer term to help with conflicts, to get rid of symptoms, to effect lasting change, and to find purpose, creativity and new possibilities. Because analytical psychology is a theory of adult development, Jungian therapy is especially appropriate for people who are in mid-life passage (also called mid-life crisis).
How does analytical psychotherapy work?
The therapist and patient work to increase the patient’s awareness, in order to integrate rejected aspects of the patient and move toward wholeness. This is achieved by finding a proper relation between consciousness (ego) and unconscious. In analytical psychology many psychological difficulties are viewed as originating from complexes, which are like knots of mainly unconscious strong feelings and beliefs. The therapist and client use information coming from the unconscious, such as dream images, fantasies, moods and other symbolic material. The energy of a complex is defused the more we recognize and understand it and so we are less likely to be overtaken by the complex.
What will I experience during a Jungian counseling session?
In a typical session you (the patient) talk and I (the therapist) listen. I make comments. Together we help you better understand your feelings and become more aware of your actions. We explore what goes on inside and outside you and how it affects you. This exploration proceeds as you talk about your daily life, interactions, thoughts, feelings, body experiences, wishes, memories, and dreams, and also about what may be going on in the relationship between the two of us. We pay attention to symbols as they arise, to creative processes (such as art) and to dreams. We learn the language of the unconscious as you experience it.
Where can I find more information?
- Boundaries of the Soul: The Practice of Jung’s Psychology. June Singer. Anchor Books, 1994 (revised edition)
- The Jungian Experience. Analysis and Individuation. James Hall MD. Inner City Books, 1986
- Jung’s Map of the Soul. An Introduction. Murray Stein. Open Court, 1998
- The Middle Passage (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts) James Hollis. Inner City Books, 1993
- The C G Jung Page