Most people associate the word “psychoanalysis” with image of a gray-bearded man smoking a pipe and saying, “Tell me about your mother”. Today this image of psychoanalysis seems outdated and pretentious. Although psychoanalysts may have practiced this way in the past, times have changed. The original theories of Freud and Jung have evolved continuously and creatively over the rich, hundred year history of psychoanalytic treatment. Despite our “quick fix” culture, psychoanalysis is still widely practiced in the United States. It remains the most in-depth form of therapy, with an unmatched understanding of the human psyche and the most rigorously and thoroughly trained therapists in the field of mental health.
Jungian Analysis is a specialized form of psychoanalysis based on the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. It aims at activating the individual’s innate healing capabilities. Our symptoms, our struggles, our suffering and our dreams are all regarded as messages about unknown or neglected parts of ourselves which need attention. By listening to these messages, we gain new perspective on our difficulties, a deeper connection to ourselves and others and the strength to change old patterns. Along with relief from pain, Jungian analysis works toward developing access to our own inner wisdom, self-acceptance, authenticity and renewed energy for life. It is as much a form of “inner work” as it is psychological treatment.
This approach is well-suited for people who want to understand themselves at a deeper level and to discover greater meaning, purpose and creative fulfillment in their lives. It’s recommended for those seeking to transform destructive or limiting patterns, especially when those patterns are long-standing and repetitive. It’s also helpful for people seeking to heal the effects of painful or traumatic past experiences and when previous, less intensive therapy or counseling has not been helpful enough.
Like other therapies, Jungian analysis is concerned with easing emotional suffering. But while it may include solving problems or coping with crisis, analysis aims at more lasting change by facilitating deeper psychological growth. This involves transforming problematic patterns, both in relationships with others and in relationship to ourselves, as well as uncovering blocks that prevent us from living our full creative potential.
Other Key Features of Jungian Analysis
- Analysis is a highly individualized process that relies on the individual’s innate potential for growth. The setting is specifically designed to encourage deep exploration. Continuity in sessions is essential for developing the analytic relationship required for this kind of exploration and so the client and analyst may meet more frequently and consistently, sometimes in two or more sessions per week. However, this is individual. It is not necessary to meet more than once per week in order to work analytically.
- Because it takes time to heal, change and grow, analysis can be a long-term process. This may seem out of place in today’s quick fix world. It is a big commitment, but it may be one thing a person can do to make real and lasting improvements in his or her quality of life.
- Contrary to popular impression, analysis is not preoccupied with the past. Memories from earlier life are only used to understand and change our patterns of reacting in the present moment. This integration of the past with the present is part of the holistic growth associated with analysis.
- The relationship between client and analyst is an important part of the process. This takes place in an atmosphere of emerging trust, in which difficult, painful experiences can be safely explored and understood.