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Individual Psychotherapy for Relationships… Say, What?

October 14th, 2011 · No Comments · individual, individual psychotherapy, Relationships

individual psychotherapy

Getting individual psychotherapy often can be the best thing for the relationships in your life, and especially for relationships with lovers and spouses.

But isn’t getting individual therapy for yourself and hoping for improvement in key relationships a little bit like, well… “Dancing with Myself”?

Billy Idol humour aside… there’s truth here.  Learning to “dance with yourself”, and learning to dance with others are intimately related.  Jungian psychotherapy stresses that our individual “stuff” can profoundly affect intimate relationships — and vice versa.  Here are 4 important ways that can occur:

1) Identifying Projections

Projection occurs when I unconsciously see people through the lens of my past experience, and when “difficult emotions and unacceptable parts of the personality are located in a person different from the subject” (Samuels).  So, for instance, I may perceive my partner as being controlling when I’m the one being controlling in the relationship — but it would distress me greatly to acknowledge that.  Individual therapy work can help me to take back projections, and to have a more accurate picture of what is going on in the relationship.

2) Others’ Projections onto Me

Also, people close to me may put their projections on me.  They may unwittingly perceive me in ways related to their own history that really have nothing to do with who I actually am.  If I’m not conscious of how this is occurring, it may distort communication and relationship.  Or I may even act in ways that resemble the other person’s projections — what is known as projective identification.

3) Recognizing Shadow – the Unacknowledged Self

Individual therapy often reveals the ways in which the shadow, the unacknowledged aspects of ourselves, affects a relationship.  Shadow may be very active.  For instance, we may feel that striving for power in a love relationship is the last thing we would do — until we recognize ourselves doing it in the mirror held up by individual psychotherapy.

4) The Contrasexual

This is the inner image and form of the opposite sex that we carry within us, referred to by Jungians as either the anima or animus.  That particular entity strongly influences our feelings about the ideal mate, and more especially in the inner story that we tell ourselves about “how guys / women are.”  If we are unconscious of our anima or animus in our relationship, we probably have a tiger by the tail.

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© 2011 Brian Collinson
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