An In-Depth Look At Jungian Therapy
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung is widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in the field of psychology and psychiatry. Born in 1875, Carl Jung developed many of the concepts still widely used in human psychology today, including extraversion and introversion, dream analysis, archetypes, and self-realization. Jung was also the founder of the field of analytical psychology and the inspiration for Jungian therapy.
What Is Jungian Therapy?
Jungian psychologists use a unique therapeutic process to help create balance and promote a client's more profound understanding of themselves. Jungian therapy often invites clients to enter their minds and examine how aspects of their personality influence every area of their life. In his conception of the mind, Jung emphasized darkness and light as qualities we may all have within us.
Who Can Benefit From Jungian Therapy?
Jungian therapy, also called analytical psychology, may be valuable for those experiencing mental health conditions and psychological problems including:
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Compulsive behavior patterns
- Substance abuse and addiction
While those with mental health problems often experience significant improvements, a diagnosis is not a requirement to experience its benefits. It may also benefit those experiencing:
- Interpersonal problems
- Destructive relationship patterns
- Intimacy problems
Generally speaking, Jungian therapy can benefit anyone who wants to understand themselves better and gain conscious awareness of the parts of the self that make up the whole.
What to Expect in Jungian Therapy
Jungian psychotherapy, like many treatments, involves speaking with a therapist. Your Jungian therapist may ask you to start dream journaling and reflect on what your dreams represent. You may also be asked to tap into your creativity and express yourself artistically.
Additionally, Jungian analysts often use association tests where the therapist says a word, and you name the first idea that comes to your mind. Your counselor can try to interpret your responses as a Jungian analyst to make inferences about your unconscious thoughts or desires. However, at its core, Jungian therapy is about self-knowledge.
Ideas Of Jungian Therapy
Before beginning Jungian therapy, it may be helpful to understand some of its core concepts. Carl Jung believed that one should focus not on the symptoms of the problem but on the source. Jung proposed that the source of many mental health problems was a person's unconscious mind, which he believed contained repressed memories of past traumatic events. The unconscious mind was also linked to what Jung referred to as the collective unconscious, which represents a shared memory and knowledge base everyone has.
If your experience falls out of place with your position in the collective unconscious, he thought it would impact you negatively. Jung also described a concept known as wholeness or individuation. The theory stated that individuals must find the cause of repressed memories to feel complete. Below are a few of the theories and concepts that Jung developed.
In Jungian therapy and other types of therapy, the unconscious is a conceptual term for the part of your mind you can't sense or control. Jungian therapists might seek to help you bring awareness to your unconscious to achieve psychological growth.
One possible way to reach the unconscious is through your dreams. Jung believed that your dreams show emotions and ideas you're not consciously thinking about during the day. Thus, dreams are considered an essential source of knowledge in Jungian therapy, even if you think your dreams mean nothing. According to Jungian theory, dreams are the creative outlet your mind uses to express itself. Exploring your dreams through dream interpretation with a therapist may help you work through emotional problems you weren't previously aware of.
The collective unconscious is also considered when discussing the unconscious mind. According to this theory, your personal unconscious contains the roots of your emotions and actions. The collective unconscious consists of different archetypes from the outside world.
Jungian archetypes represent a particular pattern or motif recurring throughout societies. The collective unconscious may involve questions that many humans have, such as the meaning of life, what happens when we die, how to achieve happiness, and what we fear.
First developed in 1919 by Jung, archetypes are the framework of specific ideas we may all impart. There may be interpretations that you can associate each archetype with. For example, many individuals have a notion of the archetype of what a mother looks like. Jungian therapy looks at the archetypes we all have and the archetypes we have incorporated into our lives.
To progress in self-realization, Jungian therapists may encourage you to pursue individuation. The process occurs when someone explores who they are to improve as an individual, often involving self-expression.
In Jungian therapy, it's believed there are two halves of our lives. During the first half, we make our own identity. Jung believed this was why teens and young adults would take more risks. Additionally, he believed that adults finish puberty once they approach middle age. Instead of caring about the material and sexual parts of life, they begin wondering about spirituality and community worldwide.
Jung believed the second half of life was marked by people becoming a part of the collective and wanting to contribute more to society. They might volunteer, make art, and look at their conscious and unconscious feelings as a whole. One Jungian belief is that young people do not express their emotions in a healthy way because they are not part of the collective and struggle to understand and find themselves.
In Jungian psychology, the goal of the collective is to have an immensely spiritual experience through connection with others. However, Jungian psychology and self-realization do not necessarily have to include a spiritual component or belief in the collective consciousness. Self-realization may also come from understanding how parts of your personality, emotions, and thoughts make up who you are in your wider community.
According to Jung, there is a shadow self in the unconscious mind consisting of repressed memories or disowned traits that people actively reject. Jung believed that this aspect of a patient’s personality might influence their thought and behavior patterns. We might all battle our shadows in various ways. For example, someone might project their feelings onto another person they love. However, the shadow is not necessarily "all bad," and there might be constructive parts in addition to destructive parts.
The shadow might concern some who act on their urges or thoughts that may be unhealthy or unkind. Jung believed that one must be aware of the inner workings of the shadow to bring it into the conscious mind. Through therapy, discussing the shadow may help clients feel it has less control over them.
Anima And Animus
According to Jungian psychology, the anima is the unconscious feminine energy of a man. For a woman, the animus is the hidden masculine energy. Jung believed that the animus was judgmental and that the anima could be perceptive. He theorized that the two parts guide individuals to who they are as a whole and connect them with the unconscious collective.
In trans and gender-diverse individuals, the interplay between feminine and masculine energies can be unique. Jung's beliefs on feminine and masculine energies may now be considered outdated as they did not consider the experiences of transgender, gender-diverse, and non-heterosexual individuals. However, his theory continues to be studied today due to its significance in psychological history.
Psychoanalysis inspired many areas of Jungian therapy, as Freud and Jung worked together for a time on the development of psychoanalysis. Through therapy, therapists work to combine the conscious and unconscious mind to look for the meaning of behaviors and emotions analytically.
In psychoanalysis, a therapist may examine your dreams or art pieces and consider their meaning. Jungian therapists might consider potential meanings even if you're unsure of them. However, interpretations can be subjective, and describing meaning can be complex. Additionally, in modern psychology, these processes may be controversial, as many studies have shown that false memories can arise from therapist suggestions on unconscious "memories."
Jungian psychoanalysis differs from the methods developed by Sigmund Freud. The Freudian analysis states that our repressed memories are connected to sexual instincts, while the Jungian analysis doesn't necessarily have such assumptions about the person. There may be sexual desires, but there may be other goals or fears present that are repressed also.
If you are curious about Jungian therapy or Jung's theories, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist or psychologist experienced in Jungian therapy. Jungian therapy has been the subject of numerous empirical studies and has been shown to be beneficial. A 2013 meta-analysis found that Jungian therapy alleviated the symptoms that initially led individuals to seek help and had various secondary benefits in their everyday lives.
If you face barriers to treatment in your area due to cost, scheduling, or other concerns, you might also consider online Jungian therapy. Online therapy grew in popularity before the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing in popularity from 2020 onward. Additionally, evidence shows it can be as effective as in-person options.
If you are curious how Jungian therapy can help you, get in touch with a licensed mental health professional through a platform like BetterHelp. An experienced therapist may walk you through traditional aspects of Jungian therapy, like keeping a dream journal or using word association exercises, from the comfort of your home. You can also choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions, giving you significant control over your treatment.
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