Jungian Psychotherapy and Analysis
What is Jungian psychotherapy? Why should I go to see a Jungian psychotherapist? What do Jungian therapists have to offer that other mental health practitioners typically do not provide? What makes analytical psychotherapy unique among the mental health professions—psychiatry, clinical psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, and spiritual, or religious counseling? The difference is the central focus we place upon understanding what dreams mean as channels for the Self’s emergence. The Self is Jung’s master concept for the central archetype of unity in the personality and we place a focus on the development of the whole person. One of the primary channels for the Self's manifestations are vocational archetypes. These are goal-directed structures for the instincts to realize themselves through symbolic imagery and human action to realize one's full potential.
Jung began his empirical work in Switzerland analyzing, researching, and writing about feeling-toned complexes. Complexes are formed through developmental traumas that split off bits of the personality and constellate psychic infections that may proliferate into mental disorders. To be depleted of their negative emotional charges they need to be transformed through the reductive and constructive methods of therapy, fantasy-thinking and symbolic language. Working with affect-complexes at an emotional, relational and imaginal level is a primary task of Jungian therapy. Once the complexes that have made the personality sick and dysfunctional patterns of relationship and behavior have been reduced—to their causal origins in adolescence, childhood, and early infancy—what emerges in the course of the therapy, if all goes well, is the natural outgrowth of personality, the summons from the inner voice to meaning. Often this comes as a surprise to the patient through a mutual understanding with the therapist.
The Growth of Personality
Nurturing the natural growth of personality from its organic seed in the unconscious is the Jungian psychotherapist’s primary concern. This is not only a therapy. It is a creative incubation that aims towards a new birth of the Self. Jungian psychotherapists sometimes help to parent the birth of the Self in the analytical relationship. The primary way to this birthing is through dream analysis, understanding what dreams mean, followed by active imagination, art work, the journaling method, or sandplay. The method of dream interpretation and active visioning are not typically taught in mental health institutions, yet, this is a primary way dysfunctional patterns of behavior and interaction are outgrown through the therapeutic dialogue. Active visioning leads to an enlargement of the personality, whereby the personal complexes (emotionally-toned, or feeling-toned complexes) are depleted of their negative charges, lessen in their intensity, and are outgrown, as an inner authority emerges and makes its presence felt in one's full maturity.
Vocational dreams are messages from the unconscious that help put a person on their proper path to the realization of a calling which may manifest itself in the form of creative work. These dreams may emerge in childhood, latency, adolescence, or early adulthood and they tend to provide glimpses of future patterns of vocational development in a person’s life, and open the way to discover how to have an impact on the world through profession. In order for vocational dreams to emerge during early adulthood or mid-life, a return to childhood memories and a thorough working through of affect-complexes is needed. By returning to childhood, through depth psychotherapy, the patient allows personal complexes to surface, along with creative patterns of destiny that have been neglected or split off from the Self’s functioning. Contained in the dreams that emerge from such an exploration process, I have found in my work that they can sometimes provide guidance and meaning in one's life.
Midlife can be a time of tumultuous transformations with unexpected reversals of fortune, vocational indecision, and new emerging life paths that make their sudden demands upon the ego to heed the Self’s callings to wholeness. Having a Jungian psychotherapist to work with in-depth during this period of personal grief and loss of one's former persona can lead to a recognition and inner acceptance of the destiny one is meant to be living. During this muddled midlife state of affairs, big dreams of destiny may emerge. During this time the inner voice may come forth to do its work of helping to re-connect a person to their greatest life’s meaning. Jungian psychotherapy and dream work can help to facilitate this process. Heeding vocational dreams and outer synchronistic events during this period of change can help to heal a person from meaninglessness and neurosis. As an archetype of destiny the vocational archetype can lead to rapid inspirations and creative renewals. Relief may come at the recognition that one has found a way to stay connected to the Self; by opening up new possibilities of relationships and purposeful channels of sacred work, heeding the call can turn existential crises into spiritual metamorphosis. Transformation in midlife involves a change from a career-orientation to a vocational-orientation, where the aim is no longer placed upon the ego and its limited needs, but upon ever-increasing Self-knowledge that springs from one’s deepest sense of being. Once the call to wholeness is heard and surrendered to, it may bring with it a sense of renewed energy and lessening of past hurts and traumas. Vocational dreams can provide new insights into the way ahead and help steer the ship of one’s destiny towards newly achieved shores of peace. Neurotic symptoms such as anxiety and depression may begin to dissolve as the ego lets go of disordered emotions and allows the Self to take a lead in the establishment of an ordered symbolic life in accordance with the harmonious plan of Nature. Understanding the relationship between dreams with vocational significance and meaningful chance, or what Jung called synchronicity, can be of great benefit during the passage from disorder to temporary order during midlife’s transformations.
This Video describes the correspondence between vocational dreams and what C. G. Jung called Synchronicity: the principle of acausal coincidence, or meaningful chance.