Jungian Therapy

If you want to live a more creative, fulfilling life and relate to others authentically, you may enjoy Jungian therapy. It helps people address the question, “What is the meaning of life, or of my life?” The founding psychologist, Carl Jung, believed people determine an answer to the “meaning” question in two ways. One, by bringing into awareness unconscious parts of themselves, and two, bringing the opposites within them into harmony.

Primary Focus: Individuation

The term individuation refers to the ever expanding development of an individual over his/her lifetime. This involves increasing the scope of one’s consciousness and developing a personality that is well defined and unique. Though individuation is a natural occurrence, it can be inhibited and that is what causes psychological problems.

Stifled individuation results in people being unable to function effectively in one or more areas of life. It can even lead to psychosis. Without proper individuation, we are easily ruled by our unconscious mind. We also fail to integrate the different aspects of ourselves. Jungian therapists view the symptoms of various disorders (i.e., depression, bipolar) as signs of inhibited individuation.

Think of putting a puzzle together. The pieces that fall under the table or get hidden by the cat become unknown or “unconscious.” Those are the pieces that make a problem for the puzzle. All the fragments of the puzzle are necessary, and the picture is only created when they are integrated or put together in a functional, meaningful way.

The Importance of the Self

Jung believed that everything we need to guide us through life and individuate is within us. This inner symbolic wisdom is what Jung named the Self. Its wisdom is greater than what humans are aware of in their conscious minds. Our Self is constantly transmitting important messages to us but because the language is symbolic, we miss much of it.

To comprehend what the Self is telling us, Jung (and followers) found ways to help people understand the symbols via creative imagination and dream interpretation. Once an individual deciphers the message from their unconscious Self they can integrate it into daily life, and symptoms are relieved.

The Basic Process of Jungian Therapy

  • Clients must have an open mind and heart about getting messages from their Self, then discovering what signals (messages) are being sent. This involves paying attention to dreams, feelings, intuition, body sensations, art, and awareness of synchronous events.
  • Once the signals are discovered, clients explore and expand on them through interpretation of dreams, dialoging with the therapist, and utilizing their imagination in various ways.
  • The client has now discovered another part of themselves by bringing it from the unconscious into awareness. Next, they address the outer and inner roadblocks to integrating, or living out, this part of themselves.
  • Finally, the client goes into the world to live their authentic self, which usually requires summoning a fair amount of courage.

Jungian therapy is rewarding for anyone who is intuitive and insightful by nature, or is willing to explore and try new things. People who are oriented toward concrete goals and solutions will likely think it is a waste of time and money.

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