Psychotherapy involves a conversation between two people. This conversation is characterized on the therapists’ side by: openness, curiosity, empathy, compassion and acceptance and on the clients' side by honesty courage and increasing engagement. It is the role of the therapist to help the client to become more fully aware of themselves and their relationships and the therapist does this primarily through trying to understand things from the clients’ perspective.
What is discussed in the session is usually led by the client who is free to discuss whatever they need to without constraint. Together, the client and therapist work towards finding new ways of looking at and understanding the clients’ experience.
All professional psychotherapy rests on a secure base which is created partially by the personality, training and integrity of the therapist and partially by the reliability and consistency of the setting. Another aspect of the secure base is professional adherence to a strict code of ethics.
Jungian analysts have been trained in the psychological approach of C.G. Jung and this informs their way of understanding their clients.
The Jungian approach is holistic. All aspects of a person’s history and experience both personal and collective are included as important elements of a unique life. Over time in the therapy the presenting personal problems become defined against the bigger story of the individual life including family, ancestry, country, culture, society, politics and spirituality. Direct experience of the body, the emotions and sexuality is also emphasized in Jungian work.
Jungian work takes the inner life and imagination seriously as a complement to the rational mind and any inclination on the part of the client to engage in the process on a creative level is welcomed and included in the process. Jung himself was an extremely creative individual who encouraged his clients to paint, draw, sculpt, write, enact or dance to give expression to the dynamic expressions of the inner world and imagination. He also developed a technique called active imagination as a way of directly engaging with the unconscious.
Jung’s exploration and empirical experience of the psyche led him to name and describe certain structures and inner figures that he observed as being consistently present in the psychic world of his clients. Archetypes, the collective unconscious, the shadow, the anima, the animus and the Self are concepts that have been extensively written about and they all come from Jungian psychology. Some clients are very familiar with Jung’s work and are interested in working very directly with these ideas. Jungian analysts vary in the degree to which they incorporate these ‘classical Jungian ideas’ into their work. The moment to moment experience of the client in the session is most often the guiding principle that shapes the way that therapy unfolds.
In Jungian anaysis, both consciousness and the unconscious are given equal value. Facilitation of an ongoing dialogue between the two aspects of the psyche is central to Jungian work and dream work is one of the primary methods of bringing this ongoing dialogue into focus. Jungian analysts encourage their clients to record their dreams and bring them to the session. It often happens that people who say they can’t remember their dreams find that they are able to remember them once the therapy has started. For clients who don’t have an easy access to their dream life, their own imagination, memory and language are vital sources of unconscious material.
The first encounter between therapist and client is usually by phone or email. This contact allows for a little background to the reasons for seeking help and questions about the Jungian approach as well as practical questions such as cost, appointment times and location. If after this both people want to proceed, an appointment is made for an initial session.
At the initial session there is an opportunity to meet and get a sense of each other whilst asking questions and discussing the issues in more detail. If both client and therapist make a decision to enter into ongoing work together the timing and frequency of the sessions is usually negotiated at this point.
In order to keep the therapy on a safe and secure footing commitment from both parties as well as practical boundaries are essential. Ideally, ongoing sessions are booked in for a regular time and at the same place each week. There may be more than one session each week depending on need. An individual session lasts between 50 minutes and an hour. Each individual practitioner has their own policy in relation to: payment of fees, holidays, cancellations, lateness and failure to attend appointments and this can be discussed during the initial session.