Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Jungian Psychotherapy and Listening

February 23rd, 2011 · 6 Comments · depth psychology, Jungian psychotherapy, listening, Psychotherapy, therapy

This is a brief post on a psychotherapy quotation on listening that I tweeted recently. It’s such a powerful statement, though, that I think it deserves its own blog post.

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.

The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us,

Makes us unfold and expand.”

-Karl A. Menninger

Menninger was not a Jungian, but he was a very wise, astute therapist.  He knew the power of someone really genuinely listening, really genuinely getting what it is that we’re saying, taking it into the heart of who they are.  Listening is fundamental to all good therapy.  Really, it’s the key thing in meaningful human interaction of all kinds.

Listening represents the power of someone else taking our story seriously.  This can have particular power at the times when when we might find it extremely hard to give ourselves that gift of taking our own experience with the deepest seriousness.  This is profoundly true for people who have continually received the message in life that who they are in their individuality really is unimportant or negligible.

True, attentive listening amounts to someone’s acknowledgement of who we most fundamentally are.  It amounts to someone creating space in themselves for us to come in and occupy.  That can feel incredibly powerful, validating, healing.

How will we know genuine listening when we come across it?  How can we tell whether someone listening to us, or our own listening to someone else, has the characteristics of the real, powerful listening that makes a difference in peoples’ lives?

I think that an important element of the answer is found in the following quotation from C.G. Jung:

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Carl G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933

When we are genuinely in interaction with another human being, we know it.  There is an aliveness, and a spontaneity.  Something is going on in the two people involved that comes from their depths — and both of them are being changed.  As Jung notes, this is true in any human interaction, including psychotherapy.  The idea of a therapist who is an immobile block of wood, who goes through the interaction with his or her client without that interaction having any effect on them — this is inhuman.  A real interaction with a therapist at a depth level is something that feels vital and alive.

Are You in Dialogue? Are You Getting Heard?

How is it in your life?   Are there relationships where you feel that you are genuinely heard, or is this something that you deeply crave in your life?

Do you believe that genuinely being listened to, and being heard can make a deep difference in an individual’s life?  Is this something that you have experienced yourself?  Sometimes psychotherapy is the first place in the life of an individual where he or she feels genuinely taken in, listened to — real.  Sometimes it can come as a real surprise to the individual to encounter this.

May your personal journey to wholeness be one in which you are listened to, and genuinely taken in, in a deeply human way,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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© 2011 Brian Collinson

Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Oakville / Mississauga border)