Steven Nouriani, PhD, MFT © 2015
While there is a great deal of overlap between Jungian psychotherapy and Jungian analysis, there are some distinctions between the two, which make a difference in both the approach and the treatment process. As Murray Stein (1982) has indicated, this issue continues to be a matter of debate among Jungians. In general however, Jungian psychotherapy tends to be more focused on the process of ego-building and ego-strengthening. Furthermore, it can be solution-focused or crisis-oriented and supportive or growth-oriented work. Jungian analysis on the other hand, is a much deeper process of examining and understanding the personality and one self. Jungian analysis is more about developing a deeper understanding and exploration of the psyche and the patient’s inner world, facilitating the constellation of the Self towards the development of consciousness and ultimately inner transformation and individuation. As Stein indicated, Jungian psychotherapy is a more ego-oriented work, whereas Jungian analysis is a more Self-oriented work.
When I was an intern many years ago at the Jung Institute of San Francisco, Jung’s (1954) writings on the psychology of transference made a deep impression on me and has always stayed with me, informing me at a deeper level of the unconscious processes in my own inner work and in my work with patients. In the psychology of transference, Jung used the images from the Rosarium Philosophorum and the metaphors and the mystic philosophy embedded in alchemy to give an in-depth description of the deeper unconscious processes in treatment and reflected the deeper dynamic relationship between the patient and the psychotherapist.
Jung’s (1954) basic idea of transference and counter transference is rooted in the alchemical idea that when two substances interact they are both altered. Jung indicated that in psychotherapy the therapist has to be willing to be a participant in the process of healing and transformation with the patient, be willing to become infected or affected by the patient’s process as he or she takes on some of the suffering of the patient, and it is through struggling together with the patient, enduring suffering and navigating the unconscious field that the medicine or light of consciousness can be discovered to bring about healing and transformation in both the patient and the therapist.
Therefore, the inner development of the analyst or the psychotherapist is important in Jungian work and is held as one of the crucial aspects of the training at various analytical training programs at Jung Institutes around the world, because it ultimately affects the direction and the depth of treatment and transformation in a patient. The Jungian approach puts the ethical demand on the analyst and the psychotherapist to continually grow and develop themselves on the path of consciousness.
The image of “The Alchemist in the Bath” from the ancient alchemical manuscript, Splendor Solis (Henderson & Sherwood, 2003, Plate I-II), illustrates the endurance of suffering and the difficult inner process of reflection, understanding and transformation that is required of the Jungian analyst and the Jungian psychotherapist in the work so that transformation can occur. In this image (Plate I-II, on page 97 of Splendor Solis), the alchemist is undergoing suffering in the boiling water by sitting in the bath of personal transformation and tolerating the suffering as the dove, symbolizing Sophia, wisdom, and the light of consciousness is constellated above his head (Henderson & Sherwood, 2003).
Jung’s archetypal theory is an invaluable contribution not only to clinical work and to dream analysis, but it is also very helpful in working with patients from various cultural backgrounds. It is the archetypal theory that first drew me to Jung, many years ago. Having an East –West bi-cultural background, Jung’s archetypal theory deeply resonated with me and continues to help me develop a deeper understanding of my ancestral backgrounds. I find that the Jungian approach applies well in my clinical work with patients from various parts of the world, even people from the Middle East or the far East.
Jung’s emphasis on understanding the culture of the patient and the Jungian attitude of inclusion and the emphasis on integration of both the light and the dark aspects of our psyche has led to the further developments of the theories of cultural attitudes and cultural complexes which emerged out of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and are very helpful towards a deeper understanding and resolution of conflicts in and between various cultural groups. Furthermore, the openness of the Jungian approach lends itself very well to working with individuals who have different life styles or sexual orientations, such as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals or those who have different religions, cultures and belief systems or experience themselves on the margins. Furthermore, Jung’s personality theory on typology, along with its further developments which emerged out of the San Francisco Jung Institute, is not only helpful in individual work but is also a great tool in facilitating the depth of mutual understanding and consciousness between couples in psychotherapy.
Finally, I find Jung’s concept of the shadow, and his interest in addressing the problem of evil in the world, an invaluable contribution to humanity. He made the famous statement that the real enemy is within, referring to the shadow and the dark side of man and the importance of individual consciousness of the shadow, which can be a major part of Jungian psychotherapy or analysis. The Jungian approach towards working with the shadow, can not only help us and our patients to become conscious of the dark and the shadow aspects of our personalities, but it is also a framework through which we can tolerate and work through the darkness that is currently prevailing in various parts of the world.
In conclusion, Jungian psychotherapy and Jungian analysis can help us discover the deeper purpose and meaning of our lives and help us live our daily lives in ways in which we can be more aligned with this deeper Divine purpose to experience the infinite, the sacred, or that which is numinous to each of us.
Jung, C. G. (1954). The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. R.F.C. Hull trans. Bollingen Series XX. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Henderson, J. & Sherwood, D. (2003). Transformation of the Psyche: The Symbolic Alchemy of the Splendor Solis. Hove & New York: Brunner – Routledge.
Stein, M. (1982). The aims and goals in Jungian Analysis. In Jungian Analysis. La Salle & London: Open Court.