Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Psychotherapy for Depression: 5 Jungian Insights

September 30th, 2011 · depression, Jungian, Psychotherapy, psychotherapy for depression

psychotherapy for depressionDepression, and psychotherapy for depression are very big topics, and the following insights from a Jungian perspective certainly don’t exhaust them, but do show us some ways to begin.

1)  You are Not a Gadget

This is the title of a recent book by Jared Lanier, the basic point of which is that humans are quite dissimilar from computers.  Jungians would agree, emphasizing that dealing with depression in a way that takes human individuality seriously means that we can’t simply treat depression as faulty programming to be re-coded, or a faulty module to be replaced by a new one.  Depression requires us to take seriously the unique personality of the individual suffering from depression.  One-size fits-all “Cookie cutter” solutions don’t help.

2)  What Can’t I Acknowledge?

One thing that may be fundamental in addressing depression is the acknowledgement of the shadow, those aspects of our life and experience that we have been unable to accept.  This may concern past wounds, losses or the acceptance of my own nature.  We may even have learned at an early age to be fundamentally rejecting of basic aspects of who we are.

3)  Lost Vitality

A common aspect of depressive experience is a loss of vitality.  Jungians observe that frequently, when an individual is depressed, and has a sense of lost vitality in his or her waking, conscious life, the person’s vitality or energy has shifted into the unconscious part of the personality, where the person may be seeking to resolve conflicts, or come to some new insight or attitude.  An important part of healing may be to assist in this process, by finding ways to foster the emergence into consciousness of what is new.

4)  Lost Hope

A similar issue to 3) above is loss of hope.  Often, individuals can have experiences that “shut them down”, and can find themselves at a point in life where life lacks meaning, and thus hard to find any hope.  The recovery of hope can be vital, if the individual is not to turn into a shell of his or her former self.

5)  A Well with a Bottom

James Hollis tells us, “From a Jungian perspective, intrapsychic depression is a well with a bottom, though we may have to dive very deeply to find it.  In every case, one has to ask the fundamental question, what is the meaning of my depression?”  Jungian psychotherapy often provides the appropriate means to find a vibrant, vital and individual answer to that question.

PHOTO:  NoncommercialNo Derivative WorksSome rights reserved by npatterson
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)



Stress Therapy & Making Difficult Decisions

September 22nd, 2011 · difficult decisions, making difficult decisions, stress, stress therapy

stress therapy

Stress therapy reveals that major life transitions are often fundamentally linked with the necessity of making difficult decisions — and with intense anxiety and stress.  When one is confronted with major, potentially life-changing decisions, it can seem very fateful indeed.

Relationship Choices

Stress therapy shows it’s common for crises or major life transitions to be mixed right up with the process of making difficult decisions about key relationships in our lives.  Decisions about whether to stay in marriages or relationships, or possibly difficult choices about who to love are frequent.  Sometimes these feelings are occasioned by major life transitions; sometimes they force us into the crisis of a major life transition.

Career Transition

It may be that a career path that has been pursued ends or starts to feel like it simply can’t or won’t work anymore.  An individual must face whether to stay in the old career, or else find some new way to move forward.  Often there can be intense stress in deciding what to do — or how to do it.

Changes in Philosophy, Spirituality or World View

Changes in the fundamental way  a person views the world can lead toward making difficult decisions.  The reverse can also be true.  A change in a fundamental aspect of belief, or a spiritual crisis can be a real earthquake in a person’s life, and it may require a very individual solution, and also the right kind of help to work it through in a way that is authentic for that individual.

Patterns of Behaviour that Don’t Work Anymore

We adapt to situations in life with patterns of behaviour.  For instance, the person who grows up in an incredibly chaotic house may learn to be incredibly rigorous and methodical, as a way of “getting through”.  Such attitudes may serve a person incredibly well — until one day life calls for change.  Transitioning to a new attitude may require skilled help through stress therapy.

A Whole New Way of Making Decisions — and Living?

At crisis points, the challenge of making a particular major decision may lead to a transformed way of making decisions, and, in fact, to a whole different outlook on life as it is worked through.  Often, depth psychotherapy such as Jungian analysis can be of tremendous help in the decision process.

I wish each of you the gifts of insight and clarity in the decisions on your journey towards wholeness.

PHOTO: © Laqhill |
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)


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9/11, 2011, & Jungian Bereavement & Grief Counselling

September 14th, 2011 · bereavement, grief, grief counselling

grief counselling

Ten years on, changes in the ways 9/11 is commemorated can teach us a great deal about bereavement, about grief counselling, and about transformations and processes in grief.

The Globe and Mail article “After 9/11: for some it’s time to move on” highlights ways in which, 10 years on, the grief of relatives and survivors is undiminished, yet undergoing transformation.

  • Grief Changes

Grief counselling teaches us that grief evolves.  Particularly where loss is sudden or unexpected, it can result in feelings often as overwhelming as complete despair and hopelessness.  But the feelings can and do change, as the work of grief gets done over time.  The loss is not felt any less, but felt in a different way.

  • Experiences of Grief & Bereavement Differ

Interviews with 9/11 survivors show that grief is experienced differently by different people.  For some, the grief reaction is as keen and raw as on the original 9/11; for others, not.  Grief counselling shows no one “right way” to respond to grievors: we have to listen to their stories, and respond individually.

  • There is Healing in Grieving, but It’s Not the Same as “Getting Over It”

For some 9/11 grievers, a kind of healing has come with the passage of time.  The impact of their loss has not diminished.  But, there is some way in which they are starting to come to terms with it, and to find ways to move back into their lives.  They have found some kind of meaning and life energy that draws them.

  • Grief Counselling Lesson: Re-Traumatization is Not Grieving

In his 9/11 address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said,  “We can never unsee what happened here.”  That’s true.  No one who has seen them will ever forget the dreadful images which the media with seeming relish keeps unrelentingly inflicting on 9/11 survivors and bereaved loved ones.  One clear lesson: that’s not the way to help anyone heal from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jungians recognize that, if a grieving individual can put the loss of the loved one into a meaningful context, and find a way to relate to the memory and personal reality of the lost loved one, life can go on.  Often, this return of life is experienced as the re-awakening of the desire to be in life.

I wish all of you, and especially those who may currently be carrying the burden of grief, the gift of meaning on your journey towards wholeness.

PHOTO: AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved Brendan Loy
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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Jungian Analysis, Analytical Psychology & Staying Real

September 8th, 2011 · analytical psychology, Jungian, Jungian analysis

analytical psychologyCG  Jung invented the method of Jungian analysis and founded the school of psychology known as analytical psychology.  He was brilliant; many would say a genius.  That doesn’t mean that he didn’t make some mistakes, or leave a lot for others to discover, as time would tell.

However, there’s vitality in Jungian analysis as an approach to psychotherapy.  It profoundly affected people in his time, as it still does.  The unique strength of Jung’s approach is best lived out when we can stay grounded in the real wisdom that he brought to psychotherapy work, while keeping open to the best of other influences.

Some Jungians want to assert that Jung had it all sewn up, that you don’t need to go beyond what he said.  But Jung himself was surprisingly open, always sat loose to his theories, and welcomed new insights, sometimes from surprising sources.

This single-minded approach was Jung’s greatest contribution, and is the most important emphasis in Jungian analysis to this day.  His ability to sit with people, and to make them feel that they were heard, and that their lives were unique and important, was legendary.

  • Jung Emphasized the Vitality of the Unconscious

Similarly, Jung saw the unconscious as a living reality, not full of only repressed materials, but also of elements that are seeking to help us to come to a more complete and fulfilling understanding of our lives.  This remains a formidible and lasting contribution to psychotherapy.

  • Keeping the Unconscious Connected to Real Life

Whatever your psychological theory is, it’s not enough if it doesn’t meet people where they live, and if it doesn’t make a concrete difference to the story of their lives.  Modern neuroscience has only served to confirm the reality of the unconscious, and modern Jungian psychotherapists like Michael Fordham, Mario Jacoby, Donald Kalsched, and Andrew Samuels have helped to further develop a Jungian understanding of personal and social life that keeps things real.

  • Connected, Growing and Knowing

A Jungian or “analytical psychology” approach has a lot to offer 21st century people.  But those of us who practice this type of psychotherapy need to have the knowledge to be open to the perspectives of others, and to keep analytical psychology a growing, vital discipline.  It’s also essential that we stay connected to the lived reality of people in 21st century North America.

Here’s hoping that your journey toward wholeness will bring you something living, unique and real.

PHOTO: © Boris Zatserkovnyy |
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)


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Jungian Psychotherapy & Baby Boomer Midlife Transition

September 3rd, 2011 · baby boomer, boomer, Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy, midlife, midlife transition, Psychotherapy

baby boomer midlife transition

The baby boomer generation is entering the later part of midlife transition.  Jungian psychotherapy has a lot to say about what happens at that time in life.  Much has happened during the course of the baby boomer generation.  Even more is happening at present, and will continue to occur.

This is true society-wide, and even more so on the level of the personal journey.  Reflecting on our journey at 45, 50 or 60, we are stunned at how different life is for us than it was 30 or 40 years ago.

Life is Very Different

In our 20s, for many of us, the challenge was to move out on our own, complete our education, start a career, find a life partner, and have children.  Now, we’ve done most of those things.  So we ask, “What’s important and meaningful now in my life?”  Challenges may be much less clear cut than they were earlier in life.

The World is Very Different

Since our teens, and earlier adulthood, the world has changed tremendously, and we have been carried along with it.  The generation before the boomers had a whole set of established assumptions about the world; baby boomers have seen those assumptions fade with ever increasing rapidity.

I am Very Different

Clearly I am different now than I was in my 20s.  Challenges and things that motivated me then likely don’t motivate so much now.  Perhaps I’ve done many things in my life that I would never have believed that I could.  My body is not the same as it was.  Where what life wanted of me may have been clear at earlier points, it may well not be clear now.  It’s up to me to find what is meaningful to me at this stage in my life, and to devote myself to that.

The Symbol of the Night Sea Journey

The journey now may well not be laid out in advance: it is very individual.  It’s like the journey of a vessel on the sea at night.  I must find my own path, finding what is meaningful to me and living that out.  To do that, I must get to know myself in ways that I never have before.  I’m looking for something real and unique, that lasts, and Jungian psychotherapy may be key in helping me find what I need.

PHOTO: ©  All rights reserved Mirage a.k.a ĈħoCõħŏľíç
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)