Jungian psychotherapy as developed by Carl Gustav Jung is the orienting approach that I use in working with people. I believe that symptoms are often a call and an opportunity to create rich and lasting life changes. Typically, these changes involve inner work with the unconscious in order to facilitate a process that Jung referred to as individuation. In brief, this is a process that is facilitated by bringing forward unconscious elements about aspects of the personality and making them conscious. This often involves facing and incorporating disowned and rejected aspects of our personalities, both positive and negative. Through this process, the unique personality and path of the individual is uncovered and revealed. My orientation toward assisting others with the process of individuation, as with many Jungian influenced therapists, is primarily via dream work. Dreams tap into our unconscious and offer us information about what is going on for us, offer suggestions, clues and even at times solutions for our problems and challenges. Process work with dreams such as amplification and active imagination, through the explorations of both the personal and the collective unconscious, exploration of myth, and creative avenues are additional ways to attend to the soul.
Mainstream psychotherapy is beginning to remember and understand the vital link between psychology and spirituality. As mentioned earlier, the Greek work psyche means soul and ‘ology’ refers to the study of. Therefore, psychology is the study of the soul. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist who is deeply interested in the concept of Jungian psychotherapy as a spiritual practice. I believe that this approach offers the opportunity for personal and transpersonal transformation and a broadening of the personality that can be achieved when a person begins to work with the unconscious and with what Jungians refer to as the archetype of the Self.
Our psyche speaks to us through dreams, both the night time and waking kind, also known as fantasies, daydreams and hypnogogic images. Dreams are typically visual in imagery, but often include dialogue between dream characters and sometimes, present voices that do not accompany any image at all. Regardless of what shows up in the dream, the idea is that these images and voices come from our psyches, from our souls, and as such, come from the deepest part(s) of ourselves. This means that the information that is presented in dream form can be seen as very valuable and insightful.
Dreams speak what is at first, to most people, a foreign language of metaphor and symbolism. As a person works with his or her dreams, and begins to learn this new language, there is the potential to learn more about the Self–the organizing archetype of the personality. Working with your dreams of the night, can bring new life and meaning to your day. While it is true that working with dreams can be challenging if we do not grasp the fact that the language is typically metaphoric and symbolic, it can become more comprehensible, once our second language skills improve.
Our psyche through dreams presents us with information that is unconscious. This means that we are not aware of it. Deciphering a dream can be difficult especially when we have resistance to the message. On the other hand, dreams typically point us toward growth and challenges that expand the personality and bring new meaning into our lives. Resistance to change is normal, even change that can be acknowledged as positive and working with this resistance, trying to understand it, can shed even more light on our process and on ourselves.
Personal Unconscious: Dreams use imagery from both the personal and collective levels. An example of the personal unconscious would be dreams using images of people close to the dreamer to convey information. Our psyche often uses images of people, places, things or even circumstances that are familiar to us in order to bring up the emotion and ideas that we have toward that specific individual or image. Understanding and gaining insight into these associations as they pertain to us, can help decipher the dream and provide information about the meaning of the dream. In other words, dreams can be interpreted through the lens of the personal unconscious; my personal associations to people, places and things.
Collective Unconscious Dreams also use images that we have less personal association to or are completely foreign to us. At these times it can be helpful to look at an interpretation on what can be referred to as an archetypal level as the image is coming from the collective unconscious; the memory bank/associations common to all people throughout history. The concept of the collective unconscious links us to the inherited interconnectedness of all humankind and all of nature and beyond.
Even as a person becomes more versed with the language of dreaming, it is important to always approach a dream with a naive sense of open wonder and to deconstruct each image focusing on the emotion of the dream and in the dreamer. An interpretation needs to resonate with the dreamer as true, but having someone else to assist in unpacking dream imagery can be very valuable. Typically if a person works with the dream long enough and sits with possible interpretations, the correct one will ring true. If not, the psyche will continue to attempt to bring the message forward with variations of the same theme or with different dreams until the point is made.
Among other important therapeutic roles, I see my role as a Jungian psychotherapist as that of assisting you in learning the language of your dreams. This is done in order to facilitate growth and development, to bring meaning to any suffering and to help with the joys of self-discovery. In short, to help facilitate the process of individuation.