WHAT DOES 'JUNGIAN' MEAN?
In practice most psychotherapists do much the same sort of thing no matter what their training. Research shows that what is most important is to have a good feeling-connection with your therapist. The question of which particular style of therapy he/she practises is secondary.
Although firmly based in the principles of Classical Jungian psychology, which is my home, I do not hesitate to integrate insights and methods of working from other schools of therapy – eg Psychodrama, Gestalt, Self Psychology, Object Relations & Focusing.
Jungian psychotherapists are trained in the principles taught by Professor CG Jung (1875-1961). He was originally Freud’s favoured disciple and his chosen heir. But he fell out with his master over a number of issues and went on to found his own school. What were the main differences between them?
JUNG’S & FREUD’S VIEWS CONTRASTED
1. Jung felt that Freud’s view of the unconscious was too negative. According to Freud it was a repository of wild, irrepressible impulses which had to be uncovered and tamed. Jung discovered a more positive side to the unconscious. He saw it as a well-spring of powerful, healing wisdom.
2. Jung felt that Freud placed too much emphasis on sex. Sex was important, but it was not the be-all and end-all of everything. According to Jung if human beings can be connected with the richness of the ‘symbolic life’ then they can unlock their capacity for creative living and be helped to fulfil their potential.
3. Freud liked to have his patients lie in an inferior position on a couch. Jung preferred two chairs face-to-face. He thereby emphasised a more modest attitude in which:-
the therapist is not the ‘one who knows,’
the therapist engages with the client in a shared, mutual exploration on equal terms, &
the client is enabled to find his or her own meaning without prejudice or assumption.
4. Jung felt that religious and spiritual convictions should not be ‘explained away’ with rationalising interpretations but should be respected and valued.
5. Last but not least, Jung disagreed with Freud’s method of interpreting dreams. He pioneered a new understanding of how dreams could be interpreted and used therapeutically. This laid the foundation for modern understanding.
JUNG’S DISTINCTIVE CONTRIBUTION
To be fair, many of the above principles are now widely accepted throughout the whole field of psychotherapy. Practitioners from other schools often fail to realise the debt which they owe to Jung’s pioneering work.
Nevertheless, there is a distinctive flavour to Jungian psychotherapy which continues to mark it out as unique & irreplaceable – the commitment to the importance of the symbolic life and to the creative power of the objective psyche.