Many Jungian analysts practicing today have been influenced by the contemporary relational model, an approach that is gaining increasing support by neuroscience research. Relational analysis explores the impact of current and past relationships on the individual’s well-being and uses the interaction between the client and therapist to build understanding of the client’s relationship patterns. This process supports clients to transform destructive patterns, to emerge from the negative imprinting of early experiences and to develop healthier, more deeply satisfying relationships.
In his later writings, C.G. Jung (1875-1961) anticipated the current relational movement, through his understanding of the counter-transference as “an organ of information” and through his exploration of the analytic relationship as a chemical combination involving and influencing both partners in “The Psychology of the Transference.” This late work of Jung’s reflects an understanding of what today’s relational analysts call “two person psychology.”
While relationally-oriented analysts agree that the capacity for relatedness is fundamental to psychological health, Jung’s contribution emphasized that psychological development (individuation) requires relatedness both with the inner world and with others. Each development supports the other. The way we relate to other people is often indicative of how we relate to the more challenging aspects of our inner lives. We grow by finding and relating to the missing parts of ourselves. When we are in relationship with another person, parts of ourselves that we have lost touch with are met again.
Jungian Analyst Barbara Stevens Sullivan writes, “Relatedness is the basis of health but it also exposes us to interpersonal wounding. We protect ourselves from being hurt by calling up anti-related energies, by denigrating the other in our minds, by erasing him through not-seeing his need,
by forgetting his wishes when those wishes would cause us distress. All the pathological tendencies in the psyche push us toward an anti-related approach…. Anti-related energy is narcissistic energy where narcissism carries the …meaning of an ego-centric over-valuation of the self. Relatedness and narcissism are two poles between which human beings are inherently torn. ” (The Mystery of Analytic Work, Routledge, 2010)