The Dream Analysis Approach
Self-discovery is to many the most useful, and with the right attitude the most enjoyable, aspect of therapy. Great light-bulb moments are those that point not just to what you already know but to what’s lurking beneath the surface. If you have recurrent dreams you don’t understand or tendencies you hate but can’t control, self-discovery can be life changing.
This is where Jungian Therapy can help. Jungian Therapy or Jungian Analysis is the approach founded by Swiss doctor Carl Gustav Jung. For Jung, each person is destined to make a significant mark in the world, except most are hindered by parts of the personality they’re not aware of: the unconscious.
While the idea that we’re all influenced by unconscious motivations is not of Jung but of Freud, Jungian Analysis differs from Freudian analysis in that (a) it’s less deterministic, that is, it doesn’t automatically assume the past determines the future, and consequently (b) more optimistic; every session works towards transcending the unconscious. This transcendence is what Jung calls individuation – where an individual develops into who they truly are intended to be.
Jung has his own theory of personality, and this theory is the framework of Jungian therapists. For Jung, personality is composed of many components including that of the Persona (what we present to others), the Shadow (the opposite of the persona; includes repressed unlikeable parts of ourselves), and the Collective Unconscious (cultural archetypes we subscribe to), among others. Careful analysis of the different aspects of the personality and how these parts can be integrated is key in Jungian Therapy.
How does it work?
Dream analysis is one of the hallmarks of this approach. Jungian Therapists help clients make sense of the symbols and images in their dreams for insight about their conscious and unconscious self. At times, Jungian Therapists will make images in dreams speak to one another; at other times, therapists would exaggerate the meaning of symbols. For Jung, dreams are guides for future actions.
As well as dreams, using imagination, fantasy and meditation can enable a client to bridge their unconscious and conscious, bringing the unconscious into the present through narrative or action.
Jungian therapy also utilises depth psychology, where the therapist works with a client to reveal the source of the issue at hand, rather than the symptoms associated with it. Once identified, the maladaptive motives can be transformed, resulting in healthier thoughts and behaviours.
Some contemporary Jungian Therapists apply Chaos and Complexity Theory. In this approach, clients are helped in finding the underlying organisation in what they perceived as chaos in their lives. Symptoms, such as depression or personality disorders, are seen as the sum total of a person’s history, environment, and even culture.
What issues does it treat?
Academic research has confirmed the effectiveness of the Jungian approach for many issues. People genuinely interested in getting to know themselves better benefit from this approach, especially if they feel their reactions are inconsistent with what they consciously want. If you perceive a dysfunctional pattern in your interactions, such as a tendency to attract failure despite wanting achievement, then an understanding of the Jungian personality theory is for you.
Jungian Therapy is also very attractive to those with creative bents and artistic personalities. Many Jungian approaches often start at the level of symbols, which is great for right-brain dominant people. Drawing mandalas, for example, is a favourite among Jungian therapists.
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