Also known as Jungian analysis, Jungian therapy is a psychoanalytic approach that was developed by Carl Jung who is considered, alongside Freud, to be one of the pioneers of modern depth psychology, particularly of the unconscious mind.
While Freud believed that dreams and the unconscious are personal things contained within an individual, Jung believed that the personal unconscious is only the top layer of a much deeper, larger collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is the uncontrollable, inherited part of the human psyche which is made up of patterns common to all humanity. Jung referred to these patterns as archetypes.
A key aspect of Jungian psychotherapy is understanding the relationship between the individual and their psyche, by bringing elements of it into consciousness. Jung asserted that the unconscious is expressed via archetypes – innate projections that are cross-cultural and universally recognised and understood. These organise how human beings experience certain things and are evidenced through symbols found in our dreams, religion, and art.
Although Jung believed that there was no limit to the number of archetypes possible, he did identify four core ones that exist within all humans:
- The Self: this represents the unification of the unconscious and conscious parts of the mind. It is thought to be the central and governing archetype of the human psyche.
- The Persona: this refers to how we present ourselves to the outside world. It is not our real self and instead tends to be the good impression we want to put across to others. Alternatively, it can be a false impression – a version of ourselves that we use to manipulate people’s opinions and behaviours. We can sometimes mistake our persona for our true self, but the self-actualisation and awareness promoted in Jungian therapy helps us to separate the two.
- The Anima/Animus: The Anima represents the ‘feminine’ qualities in the male psyche, and the animus represents the ‘masculine’ qualities in women. Jungian analysis assumes that all men have feminine components in their psyche and vice versa. In the western world, however, it has been common for these archetypes to be suppressed. This can lead to inner conflicts, which can limit our potential. Jungian therapy aims to help individuals accept their anima/animus – uniting their unconscious and conscious – to help them feel whole.
- The Shadow: This reflects deeper, darker elements of our psyche. It represents our repressed ideas, instincts, weaknesses, shortcomings, and desires. Jung believes that these latent dispositions are found in all human beings. The crucial thing is that, rather than accepting this element of their own psyche, some people will project their shadow onto others. In Jungian analysis, the individual is encouraged to integrate the shadow and the real self. This self-acceptance is considered key to wholeness.
Jungian therapy is a talking therapy, but also uses various methods of exploration through the process such as dream analysis, creative activities (painting, drama, dance, sand paly, etc), and word association tests.