What is Jungian Psychotherapy? by Veronika Leonova, M.A.
Jungian psychotherapy is based on the works of a Swiss psychiatrist, C. G. Jung. It is a form of depth psychotherapy that is distinguished by a focus on the symbolic experiences in one’s life. The issues and problems a client comes with are examined both in terms of their own life story and from the archetypal perspective. Archetypes – one of the particular insight of C.G. Jung – are overarching themes, motives that shape our cultural, historical and mythological narratives and play out in our personal lives in a unique way, yet connecting us to the universal experience of what it means to be human.
Who would it work for?
Jungian psychotherapy works with a wide variety of issues: depression, grief, anxiety, life crises, low self-esteem, relationship issues, etc. It is also a great choice for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding and insight into themselves, feel more balanced and whole.
How does it work?
Jungian psychotherapy focuses more on the root of the problem, rather than on the form of its manifestation. The symptoms that we might experience: depression, anxiety, relationship problems, psychosomatic symptoms, etc., can look similar from one person to another, but they point to very different, unique inner processes. Jung treated every symptom as a message from the unconscious, bearing a healing potential in itself, a sign, a call for change: “Hey, something is wrong, you need to understand what”. The symptom is seen as a rather positive thing, a start of recovery, as it leads to realisation that some parts of your psyche are detached from the conscious mind.
Healing this gap, building bridges between the You-as-you-know-it and the parts of you that were previously disconnected, eliminates the necessity of the symptom: there’s no need to scream when you are being carefully listened to.
If we are simply looking to relieve our symptoms, the underlying issues are not getting resolved and will resurface later in the same or different form. If we work with the underlying cause, the results of therapeutic intervention tend to be more sustainable.
The process of reconnecting with oneself allows the individual to see more clearly what forces are at play in his or her life. This process is called individuation – becoming fully oneself, becoming whole – and is the goal of jungian psychotherapy.
Jung himself was for the longest time against the idea of “Jungian psychotherapy”, as he believed that every psychotherapist has to create their own approach as part of their individuation process. Therefore jungian psychotherapy is more of a philosophical background, a mindset rather than a set of tools. A lot of jungian therapists use it as a lens through which they approach human psyche and human suffering, while successfully incorporating methods and techniques from other schools in their work. Some methods though are distinctively jungian: dream and daydream analysis, active imagination, employing creative work: writing, painting, moving to explore your unconscious, use of myths and fairytales to better understand the symbolic meaning of personal experiences.
If you are interested in Jungian therapy
Veronika Leonova practices Jungian psychotherapy among other methods at The Little White House. You are welcome to schedule a session with her here.