By Anastacia Favela
My mind has always enjoyed playing with concepts that weren’t generally discussed or accepted even. I always felt more alive when speaking about ghosts, supernatural phenomena, spirituality, existentialism and why the world was the way it was for reasons that maybe don’t meet the eye. In our heavily scientific world, a lot of these concepts are frowned upon or are seen as “outlandish” or “ludicrous.” We can find a scientific, biological, or reproductive reason for almost anything nowadays. Science absolutely has its place and I believe has played an exceptional role in our evolution in understanding ourselves and the universe at large. However, I think if we limit our understanding of life to only particular fields of thinking, whether it be social, political, economic, spiritual, or scientific, we limit ourselves and our ability to expand our conscious awareness. Jungian analysis opens the door to perspectives most other fields have not walked down that do concern the spiritual, the soul and transformation of the psyche.
I first would like to discuss what a Jungian analyst is. A Jungian analyst is a trained professional with deep understandings of a wide range of theories that were brought forth from Carl Jung. Different Jungian analysts may lean more towards classical Jungian theories and others may lean more towards Post-Jungian theories. I will explain the difference. Classical Jungian theories range from shadow theory, archetypes, transference and countertransference, transcendence, introvert and extrovert theories, the importance of the spiritual, individuation, expansion of the self, giving meaning to our suffering rather than just diagnosing, analyzing dreams and the unconscious, the collective unconscious, anima and animus, and the importance of symbols, just to name a few. Jungian analysts uniquely aim to understand the creativity of one person and the organization of their consciousness and how that has led to their suffering. It’s not about making the patient blissfully happy but helping them achieve a more conscious sense of self. Post-Jungian Analysts will still utilize some of these classical theories, but they elevate them and evolve them to modern day perspectives and current social, political, and psychological research. It’s important to know that this type of psychological assistance exists because in today’s world, alot of mainstream psychology and psychological practices are heavily based on ego, solely cognitive behavioral therapy, and mainstream diagnoses and medication use. Not that these all don’t serve a purpose and can be immensely helpful- these practices are not always centered around finding the root of the issue, but only attempts to manage it or cover up a gaping wound with a band-aid. A lot of these practices don’t take the time to try and understand the unique soul of the person, the many layers, and different unconscious factors that can be causing affliction within a person.
Jungian analysts hold space for the patient to become more aware of what is happening within the unconscious. They do this by facilitating a healing environment and help to conceptualize to the patient their states of mind to increase consciousness of oneself. They point out what may be working within the unconscious by using different tools and theories for the patient to further understand themselves. Again, the goal is expansion of the self, to include the suffering within the patient’s consciousness, not to repress it or simply just try to change it initially. The analyst has to first meet the patient exactly where they are before any transformation can truly take place. The analyst’s goal is to see the suffering for what it is and help to patient to give it new meaning. A Jungian analyst is less interested in diagnosis and is more interested in getting to know the unique makeup of the individual across from them and how they can transform.
Jungian analysts differ from psychotherapists in that a psychotherapist will work with a patient if they see that a particular issue in someone’s life has a long-lasting pattern and the patient would like assistance in understanding their personality and why these symptoms are affecting their life and well-being. A psychotherapist usually has sessions about once a week. A psychotherapist may have a general range of expertise in the field but may not be trained in particular fields of psychoanalysis and Jungian analysis. So here is where the difference lies; a patient may come to analysis for similar reasons, but Jungian analysis is usually done more frequently, not meeting just once a week but 2 to even 4 times a week for a more in depth analysis of one’s mind. Jungian analysts and psychoanalysts are trained in fields of depth psychology, analytical theories and as well have gone through their own personal analysis to complement their theoretical understanding and further patient assistance.
If you are more open or inclined to exploring various reasons and perspectives outside of CBT and mainstream psychotherapy practices, then I would say Jungian analysis may be for you. If paradox, mysticism, spirituality, and nuanced topics are areas you like to explore as possibly having an effect on your psyche then Jungian analysis may be for you. If just a diagnosis doesn’t sit well with you, if someone just trying to make you feel better isn’t enough, if you want someone to ask you the deeper questions, and if you truly want to find the root of your issues then I would again say that Jungian analysis may be for you. Jungian analysis is also special in its own right because it is a field of psychology based on the ability to grow and transform. A lot of psychological theories sit on the perspective that our psychological models were made, stand firm, and cannot be changed but can only be managed. Jungian analysis is the antithesis to this mindset, it is a field of transformation at its deepest core. As said beautifully by my instructor Kevin Lu, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Jungian Psychosocial Department at the University of Essex expressed, “Crucially, I have always understood Jung’s psychology-despite its limitations- as a psychology of hope, and that the various complexes and archetypal patterns that tyrannically shape our behavior can be dispelled through greater consciousness and understanding.”
Someone should not see a Jungian analyst if these different theories do not resonate with how you can further understand your mind, and if spirituality triggers you or does not call to you. If your mind understands more how to work with diagnoses and labelling behaviors rather than analyzing dreams, or the shadow or the difference between your feminine and masculine side and how that is being projected onto others than Jungian analysis may not be for you. For some people, that is simply too far out and scientific perspectives make more sense to them and for them. Everyone is different and responds well to different things. I personally believe that a combination of different theories is the best practice because Jungian analysis can be limiting. Some analysts do not venture out of their training and can narrowly see issues instead of encompassing some scientific, biological, and reproductive theories. Sometimes dream work or understanding archetypal figures is not actually what needs to be discussed to understand the issue at hand. Sometimes we need to understand how our trauma affects us acutely, for exactly what it is- sometimes talking about the reality of our life and childhood is what helps us find the answers. Hence, why I humbly believe that Jungian analysis in combination is incredibly beneficial. It gives us a more holistic approach to our psychological landscape.
It is important for the public to know about Jungian analysis because everyone’s psychology is unique and special in its own right. Not all mainstream therapy practices will work for everyone, and we need to be able to cater to the individual needs of those who can benefit from learning about their unique reality, their way of thinking and remember that how we all see the world is valid and understood by someone. It’s important for professionals to know about Jungian analysis because there are so many helpful perspectives and insights that can help us to gain a more whole view of the mind and its inner workings and provide us with nuanced ideas and answers for issues on why someone may be suffering. One of the most beautiful things about the mind is its mystery and how it works and what it means for us as human beings. By limiting our knowledge of the mind to scientific reasoning, biological, reproductive, diagnostic based views- we limit how much we can understand ourselves and others. By opening up our views we make it more possible to reach new psychological perspectives to assist us in wholeness.
MA Jungian Psychoanalytical Psychology
Mental Health Technician at Kindred Hospital
Creator of Little Owl Psychology YouTube Channel