Analytical psychology indicates a specific orientation of theory and clinical practice which originated in the pioneering work of Carl Gustav Jung starting from the early 1900s. Eclectic and controversial, Jung spent the first part of his career as psychiatrist and conducted empirical research for the Word Association Experiment, while in 1908 founded with Sigmund Freud the International Psychoanalytic Association. After the historical split with the father of psychoanalysis, Jung went through a personal crisis and after recovering developed his original approach to the study of human psyche. He introduced fundamental concepts, such as individuation, symbol, synchronicity, archetypes, collective unconscious, complex and transcendent function. His theories have been elaborated further by prominent authors, among the most important there are several women: Emma Jung, Toni Wolff, Marie Louise von Franz, Aniela Jaffé, Jolande Jacobi as well as men, Erich Neumann, James Hillman, and Michael Fordham. In 1985, Andrew Samuels created the term ‘post-Jungians’ to discuss how Jung’s psychology was elaborated further by his scholars and distinguished three main traditions: classical, developmental and archetypal.
It can be argued that compared to other psychodynamic approaches, analytical psychology puts emphasis on the strengths and individual inner resources that naturally brings to growth, individuation and healing rather than on focusing on psychopathology.
What should you expect from counselling and psychotherapy oriented to analytical psychology?
EXTENDING AWARE CONSCIOUSNESS
Jung conceived psychological suffering as a result of the imbalance between the unconscious psyche and conscious awareness. Jung viewed mind and body as deeply inter-connected and symptoms or complexes can be seen as the via regia to explore the unconscious and restore a deeper connection with the individual self. This was largely explained by the principle of enantiodromia (1949), according to which when an extreme one-sided tendency dominates the conscious life inevitably over time and equally strong countertendency builds.
THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP MATTERS
Jung conceived the relationship between analyst and patient as crucial to the effectiveness of the therapeutic process considering that ‘an analyst can help a patient just so far as (s)he personally has gone and not a step further’ (CW 16, par. 545). He implied a certain equality and symmetry of the therapeutic dyad and described with powerful images drawing on the alchemical metaphor ‘the coniunctio’ as the process of interaction and reciprocal transformation of both therapist and patient. Nowadays, the therapeutic relationship is seen as a fundamental factor common to all interventions and consists of three main components: a working alliance, a transference configuration and a real relationship.
DREAMS ANALYSIS, ACTIVE IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY
Jung developed a synthetic, constructive and prospective approach to give interpretations of the psychological experience of each unique person. He aimed to avoid giving reductive and analytical answers to embrace a finalistic and subjective perspective focusing on the relationships among parts of a whole and synchronicity more than investigating causal links. He attributed outmost importance to the symbol and the innate human capacity to create meanings and in particular called ‘transcendent function’ (CW 8, par. 145) a specific mode of experiential understanding that unites opposite aspects of the psyche leading to the creation of a new third meaningful dimension. Transcendent function underlies creative process, psychological transformations and orients to the process of individuation throughout the entire life span. Analytical psychologists can employ a variety of methods to probe unconscious material, exploring dreams’ symbols, using active imagination, as well as mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques to help establishing deeper connection between mind, body and soul.
INDIVIDUATION AND TRANSPERSONAL UNCONSCIOUS
Individuation is a developmental psychological process of developing an individual self by bringing out of an undifferentiated unconscious innate elements of personality with outer life experiences and finally integrating them over time into a genuine and authentic wholeness. As Jung theorised that the psyche includes both a personal and a collective unconscious level containing archetypes (CW 7) which are common to all human beings, individuation helps to secure a bridge not only between an individual and the unconscious as well as the individual and his/her wider community. Only accepting the be part of a transpersonal relational matrix, an individual can reach a more powerful sense of meaning and purpose in life.
SOCIETAL, CULTURAL AND POLITICAL REALMS ON THE COUCH
More recently, post-Jungians authors (for instance Samuels, 2001) emphasized the importance of moving the setting out of the analysis’ room, and started to investigate through an analytical perspective the hidden psychology of politics, economics, nationalism, leadership, citizenship, women and men. In this direction, an analytical psychology gives crucial importance to exploring the psychological experience of complex socio-cultural conditions affecting the life of human beings, such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and refugee status.
C.G. JUNG (1949). “Psychological Types”, Collected Works VI volume, Princeton University Press.
C.G. JUNG (1966). “Two Essays on Analytical Psychology”, Collected Works VII volume, Princeton University Press.
C.G. JUNG (1960). “The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche”, Collected Works VIII volume, Princeton University Press.
C.G. JUNG (1959). “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious”, Collected Works IXi volume, Princeton University Press.
C.G. JUNG (1966). “Practice of Psychotherapy”, Collected Works XVI volume, Princeton University Press.
A. Samuels (2001). “Politics on the Couch: Citizenship and the Internal Life”, Other Press, New York.