What is analytical psychology?
Analytical psychology approaches psychotherapy in the tradition of C. G. Jung. It is distinguished by a focus on the role of symbolic experiences in human life, taking a prospective approach to the issues presented in therapy. This means that while one’s life history is of great significance for understanding one’s current circumstances, the current circumstances also contain the seeds for future growth and development. The goal of Jungian analysis is what Jung called individuation. Individuation refers to the achievement of a greater degree of consciousness regarding the totality of the person’s psychological, interpersonal and cultural experiences. Jung identified two deep levels of psychological functioning that tend to shape, color and sometimes compromise a person’s experience of life. Along with Freud, Jung recognized the importance of early life experiences, and the personal complexes that arise from disturbances in the person’s life all of which are found in the personal unconscious. Jung’s particular insight, however, was his recognition that individuals are also influenced by unconscious factors that lie outside their personal experience, and which have a more universal quality. These factors, which he called archetypes, form the collective unconscious, and give shape to the more universal narratives, myths and religious phenomena that shape the larger context of human experience. The analytic process is intended to bring these factors, both personal and collective, into consciousness, allowing the individual to see more clearly what forces are at play in his or her life. This is the process of individuation, which has the larger goal of providing the individual with the resources to shape their life going forward. Implicit in Jung’s understanding of the archetypes in particular is the sense of a goal toward which one’s life may be directed. The role of the analyst is to help facilitate the individuation process by providing an informed interpretative environment for understanding the individual’s life experiences.
Jungian Therapy Examples
As an example of the Jungian approach, we can consider depression. In addition to exploring issues of recent or childhood loss which are often involved in depression, Jungian therapy also explores whether the depression is an indication that the client’s current approach to life is unsustainable. In this case, a period of stillness and reflection may be required to reorient themselves in a healthier way. The experience of sadness, loss of energy, hopelessness and irritability are seen in the greater context of the individual’s psychological development.
This is often the case when individuals reach midlife and their approach to life no longer sustains them. Some may need to invest more in creative, interpersonal, or community endeavors rather than professional ambitions in order to be more balanced and less depressed. Others, however, may need to develop a more practical, mature, and realistic approach after focusing on creative goals earlier in life.
The treatment of unhealthy relationship patterns serves as another example of how Jungian therapy works. These may be understood as attempts to rework harmful relationships from the past, or as attempts to integrate personality aspects that have not yet been incorporated.
For instance, a hard-driven individual may be attracted to romantic partners that offer more warmth and connection, while their partner may be seeking their own authority through connection with the hard-driven partner. Treatment would help either partner to find those qualities within themselves, rather than expecting their partner to live them out for them.
Who Is Qualified to Practice Jungian Therapy?
While some therapists familiarize themselves with Jung’s ideas and refer to themselves as Jungian therapists, the only assurance that they are truly proficient with the approach is for them to be certified by the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP) as Jungian analysts.
The practice of Jungian analysis requires extensive and demanding training, which includes traditional theories of human development and psychopathology, along with a thorough grounding in mythology and an understanding of Jungian theory. To qualify as a certified Jungian analyst, the therapist must complete a post-graduate training program at an institute approved by the IAAP. This training takes a minimum of four years (in addition to previous graduate work), but more often requires six or seven years.
Jungian training also requires that the student undergo a certain number of hours of personal analysis with a Jungian therapist.
Cost of Jungian Therapy
Typically, Jungian analysts work in private practice, though they may occasionally be found in clinics or hospitals. Depending on the region in which they practice, their fees can range from $100 to $300 per session. Most Jungian analysts will set some of their fees based on a sliding scale, but you should check to make sure that they currently have reduced fee openings in their practice, and whether they will be able to lower their fee enough to make it feasible for you to attend on a regular basis.
While clients often gain some symptomatic relief within a few months, the deeper project of Jungian analysis tends to last for years. Ideally, this is considered when choosing a therapist so that the process does not have to be terminated due to financial reasons before it is complete.
Jungian analysts usually have licenses to practice in their respective states. Therefore, you may be able to file for out-of-network reimbursement for sessions you have with them. Many Jungian analysts do not accept in-network reimbursement.
Jungian training institutes have low-fee clinics wherein individuals with limited income may enter therapy with a student in training. Generally, these cases are supervised very closely. Costs in these circumstances may range from $35-$100 per session.
Here are links to some of these institutes:
How to Find a Jungian Therapist
Many regions have Jungian professional associations which offer a referral service or a website with a listing of certified analysts who are members of their associations. You can find a list of these associations at The International Association for Analytical Psychology, where they maintain a list of regional groups and contacts
What to Expect at Your First Appointment
Jungian therapy is framed within a specified amount of time (usually 45-50 minutes), and within a private, confidential environment, but is otherwise unstructured and spontaneous. While the therapist may want to clarify certain issues such as suicidality, addictions, and stability of the potential client in the first appointment, they are more likely to explore these in the context of the interview as they arise.
An initial consultation provides the opportunity for both patient and therapist to decide whether the therapist can be of help, and whether there is a good fit of personalities. Clients may choose to interview two or three analysts before committing to one.
The therapist may be curious about any dreams you have had recently, since they may shed light on your issues. However, remembering dreams is not necessary to begin the process.
The therapist will also explain their policies for payment, attendance, and cancellation.
Is Jungian Therapy Effective?
Jungian therapy is a form of psychodynamic therapy, which, according to a review in the American Journal of Psychiatry, has been found to be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication for treating target symptoms.4
More specifically, a review of research into the effectiveness of Jungian therapy published in the journal Behavioral Sciences, found that:5
- All studies showed significant improvements not only on the level of symptoms, behavior, and interpersonal problems, but also on the level of personality structure
- These improvements are sustained after completion of therapy for a period of up to six years
- Several studies indicate that patients continue to improve after the end of therapy
- Medical insurance statistics indicate that after Jungian therapy, patients use medical care less than most people
- Several studies indicated that Jungian treatment not only improved severe symptoms, but also increased overall psychological wellbeing
- Typically these changes occur within 90 sessions, demonstrating that Jungian psychotherapy is effective and cost-effective
Risks of Jungian Therapy
Any form of long-term therapy can be used to avoid moving into the world and facing one’s fears. Ideally, the therapist will challenge and explore any avoidant tendencies on the part of the client, but answering the challenge requires a willingness on the part of the client to experience feelings, memories, or prospects that they have not wanted to explore previously.
Similarly, a client could possibly become so intellectually engaged in Jungian concepts such as archetypes that they might fail to engage emotionally. Avoiding feelings robs the client of the material they need to dissolve psychological blocks, and limits how productive the work can be.
Criticisms of Jungian Therapy
Jung’s interest in mysticism has led some to assume that belief in mysticism was a requirement for treatment.6 While Jung did have an interest in the phenomenon of spiritual experiences, he developed his approach through empiricism, and a mystical perspective is not an inherent part of the treatment. These critiques have been addressed by a number of writers, including historian Sonu Shamdasani.7
The concept of the archetype has been criticized as inconsistent and lacking empirical or biological support. Some Jungian theorists, such as Anthony Stevens, have argued that archetypes had an adaptive function in evolution and are therefore transmitted genetically.8 Others, such as Jean Knox, argue that archetypes emerge through cultural and environmental exposure.9 While the concept remains controversial, many find the images of archetypes to resonate deeply, and therefore to be experientially helpful.
How Is Jungian Therapy Different Than Other Types of Therapy?
While there is a wide range in how Jungian therapy and other methods are practiced, the fundamental aspects that differentiate it are its forward-looking perspective, its positive focus on the ongoing process of psychological growth, and its utilization of the unconscious as a source of creativity and guidance. Psychological problems are understood to be caused by blocks to life cycle stages. As an additive process, it seeks to integrate what has been left out in addition to understanding childhood stressors.
History of Jungian Therapy
Jung began to develop his approach to therapy in the early 20th century. After completing his studies as a physician, he began clinical work at the Burghölzli clinic in Switzerland, which gave him the opportunity to observe a wide range of psychological struggles, and to develop his own theories.
Jung collaborated with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in the development of psychoanalytic theory and practice during the early years of the 20th century. However, by 1912, Jung felt too at odds with Freud’s emphasis on the role of sexuality to continue their collaboration, and ceased working with him.
Freud postulated three different parts of the personality, including ego (roughly equivalent to the adult), super-ego (parent) and id (child). Jung expanded the idea of different personality parts to include persona, shadow, hero, wise old man/woman, warrior, orphan, and many other archetypal parts that appear universally. He incorporated psychological growth, in addition to Freud’s emphasis on sexuality and death, as a primary motivation and source of energy in the therapeutic process.
Jung expected that other clinicians and theorists would continue to develop and revise his ideas, and this has certainly been the case. Psychiatrist Michael Fordham integrated concepts from child development and object relations.10 Physician Anthony Stevens applied concepts of evolutionary psychology to Jungian theory.11 Psychologist James Hillman developed “Archetypal Psychology,” an approach critical of scientific reductionism and materialism, focusing instead on the recognition of “soul” and the meaning of suffering.12 Psychologist Donald Kalsched utilized Jungian concepts for the treatment of trauma.13
While originally grounded primarily in Europe and North America, the practice of Jungian analysis is now rapidly increasing in Asia and South America, where new Jungian professional societies and training institutes are flourishing.