Jungian Analysis Explained
Jungian analysis is a method of psychotherapy developed by C.G. Jung, the eminent Swiss psychiatrist (1875-1961). Jungian analysis has endured since its inception and today there are approximately 2,500 Jungian analysts around the world. An early colleague of Sigmund Freud, Jung went on to found a separate school of psychotherapy known as Analytical Psychotherapy.
Analytical Psychology is Jung’s term for his theory and practice of psychology. He coined the term to distinguish it from Freud’s form of psychotherapy, which Freud called psychoanalysis. The phrase most commonly used today to describe Jung’s model of therapeutic practice is Jungian analysis. Whichever term is used, for Jung, analysis is about bringing conscious and unconscious elements of the psyche into balance.
Dreams, the conscious ego, and the unconscious
Jungian analysis is a "depth psychology," or psychology of the unconscious. This means it involves analysis of the deeper layers of the psyche through the examination and observation of dreams and imaginative material. The interpretation of dreams is widely accepted to be the ‘royal road’ to knowledge of the unconscious. Dream observation and interpretation is integral to any Jungian analysis.
discovered that most dreams are attitude-compensations.
attitudes that dreams compensate are those of the conscious mind, the
‘ego’. Such compensatory dreams add to the conscious
psychological situation all those aspects which represent a totally
different point of view. In other words, the unconscious often provides
a contrasting mirror to our conscious behaviour.
According to Jung, the attitudes of the ego are invariably partial and prejudicial. In dreams, the unconscious presents to the ego alternative perspectives that compensate these one-sided attitudes. The unconscious thus rebalances the psyche by challenging the conscious mind’s perspective. Dreams offer the ego information, advice, constructive criticism and wisdom. If the ego is receptive rather than defensive or dismissive, it can integrate these alternative perspectives.
In addition to this compensatory function, some dreams have a prospective function. This is anticipation in the unconscious of some possible future result of current attitudes or behaviours. The unconscious guides the conscious attitude in a different direction which may be better than the previous one.
The purpose of Jungian analysis is to establish an effective relationship between the conscious and the unconscious in order to facilitate and support transformations of the psyche. This is a therapeutic process which promotes psychological health and wellbeing.
analysts employ various methods to engage the images
emerge from the unconscious. These include techniques for interpreting,
observing and reflecting on messages from the unconscious via dreams
and active imagination.
The unconscious communicates mainly via images, each of which is unique and may provide symbolism which is rich in meaning. The unconscious has the capacity to select the appropriate image for a particular purpose. Dream interpretation involves determining the purpose of the image.
Jungian analysis involves
the ‘amplification’ of
means associations to dream images are explored both on the personal
and wider, collective level. These associations may draw on
myths, fairy tales, art, literature, and culture. Amplification is
therefore a means of drawing parallels with comparative human
experience. It can lead to a deeper understanding of
psychological problems and as a result the process of reflecting on
symbolism often has a healing effect.
The technique of active imagination may also be employed in Jungian therapy. It involves exploring the unconscious when awake rather than just through dreams. Active imagination suits those with a strongly imaginative and open temperament.
Jungian analysts work with dreams and symbolic representations so as to open up the inherent potential for healing and wholeness. This is a process which Jung called individuation and it encompasses the natural process of a person’s psychological development.