Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Jungian Analysis , A Psychotherapist & The Worried Well

May 25th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Jungian, Jungian analysis, psychotherapist


Should a psychotherapist be working with the “worried well”, even if he or she practices Jungian analysis?  Who exactly are the “worried well”?  If you click on the link immediately below, you will see a splendid picture of a “Worried Well” as drawn by the subtly wise cartoonist WG on his site Reaction Formation:

“The Worried Well”


Who Are the “Worried Well”?

Semi-official medical lore has it that the worried well are people who have nothing medically wrong with them, but who visit doctors to gain re-assurance.  In a psychiatric context, it refers to those who do not have a psychiatric diagnosis, but who nonetheless seek to gain some reassurance from a psychotherapist.  On a narrowly medical model, only those with a psychiatric diagnosis should seek out a psychotherapist.  But from the perspective of depth psychotherapy and Jungian therapy, does this seems like an adequate understanding of the needs of those seeking counselling / therapy?

Is Psychological “Wellness” Really the Issue?

Do people go to a depth psychotherapist to “get cured”?  In my experience, the vast majority of people who come to see a psychotherapist in a practice like mine would not seem to be suffering from a psychiatric disorder, and they are not exactly looking for “the cure”.  They are, however, looking for something else.  What is it?

The Psychotherapist and the “Other Well”

I know it’s a bit of a play on words, but let’s look at the other meaning of the word “well.”  For the psychotherapist, wells have great significance in dreams, myth and fairytale.  A well is something made by humans, but it penetrates into the dark reality of the earth, and miraculously fills with water, the liquid so essential for life.  And that’s a powerful image for what we as individuals are seeking in the dark earth of the unconscious psyche.

jungian analysis

Water from the Depths

A symbol of the water of life from the depths.  In my opinion, this symbolizes very well the inner journey that many take through a depth psychotherapy, such as Jungian analysis.  From an arid landscape where there is no moisture, devoid perhaps of life and possibility, where the individual roams endlessly and finds nothing but dryness and dust, to a relationship with their own inner depths that brings fluidity, restoration, life.  In this sense, the well with its life-giving water from the depths can be a very apt symbol for the work of a depth psychotherapist or for Jungian analysis.


PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved by ruffin_ready

One Comment so far ↓

  • Greg Ellis, MD

    I struggled at mid-life and was frustrated by traditional counseling until I discovered Jungian psychology. Immediately I responded to the Jungian framework as it reflected my experience of life.

    I sought out an analyst and travelled 200 miles to Chicago monthly during my depth analysis with the goal to find meaning. That’s what I was searching for, not a cure. Hope that provides an answer to your question!

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