Jungian Psychology In Theory And Practice

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated October 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was a well-known psychiatrist and associate of Sigmund Freud. Jung (full name Carl Gustav Jung) was the developer of Jungian psychology, also referred to as Analytical Psychology. which branched off Freud's theories but differed in many schools of thought. This type of psychology may help individuals find a more significant balance within themselves when practiced in clinical settings.

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Theory Of Jungian Psychology

C.G. Jung drew inspiration from several sources when he developed his psychological theory. Freud's psychoanalytic method influenced Jung significantly. He also utilized his experiences and time spent as a hospital therapist to develop his understanding of the human psyche. Jung was an avid reader, often studying texts from ancient scholars and civilizations, which influenced his philosophy and theories in psychology

The theory Jung developed in his psychological endeavors has several core components, including the following. 


Jung proposed that individuation was a process you go through to become a unique individual or complete self. Some call it the path to self-realization. There are multiple phases to this process. Individuation is about bringing the subconscious, including dreams, into conscious thought and combining the two to understand yourself more profoundly.  

Jung strongly believed in the importance of dreams and bringing them to the conscious mind for the purposes of psychological growth. In Jung's view, failing to go through each phase could lead to mental health conditions, including phobias, depression, or psychosis. He aimed to help people accomplish each phase to develop a more cohesive self and reach their highest experience level.


While some psychological theorists suggested that the human mind may begin as a blank slate, Jung believed that people start with knowledge gained through the evolutionary process. He saw this as being already present in each person's brain (through the unconscious) at birth as archetypes.

An archetype in Jungian psychology is a universal pattern or image that resides in the collective unconscious. Jung believed that each person builds themselves on top of the archetype. Jungian archetypes include the mother, the flood, and the wise older man. The four main archetypes Jung dwelt on were:

  • The persona or mask you show the world
  • The anima/animus, which is a component of the self that is opposite of the person's gender (relating, in part, to unconscious feminine aspects in men and masculine aspects in women)
  • The shadow or the darker side of the psyche that we may try to repress from the world, such as aspects that are not perceived as acceptable to society
  • The self, or the wholeness of the individual


The unconscious was believed to be the part of the mind that holds the experiences and memories common to humanity as a whole. Jung believed the unconscious was related to the inherited structure of the brain, meaning everyone may be born with the same information. The unconscious is considered different from the individual or personal unconscious, which may only contain impressions from a person's history.


Like many theorists, Jung coined several terms as he developed his theory. One was synchronicity. Jung explained synchronicity as a way that two seemingly unrelated things co-occur. Synchronicity can be different from coincidence because synchronous events happen together meaningfully rather than randomly. 

Jung saw this when a client had a dream about a rare type of insect, and the following day, the same type of insect, unusual for its geographical location, flew into the window during her session with him. Jung did not write this off as a simple coincidence but helped her find meaning to associate with the occurrence and help her move forward in her therapeutic work by providing renewal and revitalization.

Dream Interpretation

In Jungian theory, dreams represent the psyche's work as it tries to communicate information from the unconscious to the conscious mind. This can involve the interpretation of the dream ego (in this case, the ego represents “ourselves” as we experience the dream) and how it is affected by other objects and people. Dreams can hold symbols of what lies unknown to the dreamer within the unconscious. Dreams might show up as compensations for areas lacking in waking life. 

Dream objects may be objectively related to things in the real world, or they can be taken on the subjective level in which every dream object is related to the person's psyche. Jung also related the psychology of dreams to the unconscious and its archetypes. 


In Jung's theory, complexes are emotionally charged ideas clustered around an archetype. He saw complexes as neutral, although their effects could be harmful. Complexes may stop you from doing what you most want and may be based on trauma or adverse experiences in life.  

A complex may create discord within your psyche, although that is not necessarily regarded as unfavorable. Jung suggested that without such discord, the psyche would come to a complete standstill.

Therapy With Jungian Psychology

Jungian psychology is often practiced through a form of analytical talk therapy. The goal in Jungian psychotherapy may be healing and wholeness, which Jung stated happens when the conscious and unconscious minds are integrated and balanced. To do this, the therapist may help you look past the face you present to the world and find the deeper elements of your psyche.

Conditions Treated

This can be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. If you see an eclectic therapist, they may use Jungian techniques and techniques from other types of psychology. Some of the conditions that might be treated with Jungian methods include:

  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trauma

Therapy Techniques With Jungian Psychology

Your therapist may use a broad range of Jungian therapy techniques to help you understand yourself and transform your life into a more integrated whole. Some of these techniques are:

  • Confession and catharsis
  • Assessing personality type
  • Dream interpretation
  • Dream journaling
  • Creative Experiences

Confession And Catharsis

For many people, confession may relieve emotional burdens. In Jungian theory, though, confession often has a specific goal. As you talk about your problems, you may reveal the unconscious thoughts and images underlying your distress.

Once your inner world comes out into the open, you may feel a sense of catharsis or release and relief. At the same time, your words and emotions could illuminate areas you need to work on more. Confession and catharsis form an ongoing process that you'll likely continue in later therapy sessions.

Research may back up the benefits of confession and release. Studies show that suppressing emotions and thoughts can be harmful to your overall health. Opening up with a counselor and labeling your emotions can be beneficial. 

Assessing Personality Types

One critical component of Jungian analysis was the assessment of an individual’s personality. Your therapist may use several different methods to complete this analysis. They may determine whether you're more extroverted or introverted and in what situations. They'll also determine whether you function best in thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. Once they've identified your personality type, they might understand better how to help you find emotional healing.

Dream Interpretation

Many Jungian analysts spend time with patients interpreting their dreams. Since Jung saw dreams as powerful tools for the unconscious mind, dream interpretation is often a cornerstone treatment in this form of therapy.

As a client, you may describe a dream that has made a significant impression on you and explain all the details, including what you did, what happened to you, and how you felt during the dream. Your therapist may ask questions to clarify your description or help you recall the dream better.

Finally, your therapist may guide you as you look more closely at the meaning behind the dream. They can help you identify elements of your unconscious that are out of balance and use their expertise and knowledge of archetypal psychology to help you discover the "real" you emerging through the counseling process.

Dream Journaling

A Jungian analyst or therapist may also ask you to keep a dream journal. To do so, keep your journal by your bedside and write down your dreams as soon as you wake up. Doing this may ensure that you remember the dream more accurately than if you went about your day and only tried to recall the details during your therapy session.

You can use several methods to help you remember your dreams. For example, you can tell yourself before you go to bed that you'll remember your dreams when you wake up. Also, if you read earlier dreams before you go to bed, you may be in the right frame of mind to remember the whole experience of the current night's dreams.

At first, your therapist may take you through your dream journal and work with you based on the images and feelings you've written down. As your therapy progresses, you might also learn to understand your dreams independently. Additionally, research shows that expressive writing, like journaling, is beneficial for mental health, so journaling may have other rewards.

Creative Experiences

Jungian therapists often use creative experiences to help you express elements of your psyche in order to help you achieve a higher level of conscious awareness. These experiences include making art, dancing, listening to or making music, writing poetry, and writing. After the experience is over, you and the therapist may discuss how the unconscious elements in the creation relate to your journey of self-realization.

Jungian Psychology Counseling Options 

Although you may decide to see a Jungian therapist to get relief from psychiatric symptoms, you may be able to achieve self-realization, wholeness, and balance with any counselor. These processes could support you with various mental health concerns and life stressors. 

For many, therapy can be challenging to find in modern society, especially outside of regular working hours. If you face barriers to treatment, consider seeking support from a Jungian therapist online through internet-based therapy. Online therapy is often affordable compared to in-person appointments, as participants are not required to travel for an appointment. Furthermore, online therapy may be more accessible as clients can join a session from the comfort of their homes or another preferred environment. 

According to the World Psychiatry Association, researchers found "considerable support" for internet-based therapy when dealing with common mental health conditions, which advocates for the validity of online Jungian counseling.    

Connect With A Certified Counselor Online

If you'd like to gain a deeper understanding of your mental health issues, you can connect with a therapist on platforms such as BetterHelp. Counselors working through the site use a wide range of other psychological approaches. 


Jungian psychology may support you in learning more about your psyche through dreams and unconscious thought. Jungian therapy has been a basis of modern psychology for years and could offer insight into how current cognitive practices are utilized. If you're interested in trying these processes, consider reaching out to a counselor to get started.

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