Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Finding Purpose in Life Through Self Awareness

March 29th, 2014 · finding purpose in life

Finding purpose in life is a key element of living well, and depth psychotherapy can help the individual to find vitality and meaning in life through self understanding and self acceptance.

finding purpose in life

But how do I do that?

The Importance of Finding Purpose in Life

For Jungian therapy, finding meaning or finding purpose in life is an essential part of the process of individuation, the process by which we become our truly unique and individual selves.  True, authentic meaning is closely connected with our own most fundamental identity. And the drive to find meaning is fundamentally connected with what it means to be human.

C.G. Jung went even further, stating that

“a neurosis must ultimately be understood as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered its meaning.”

To feel that one’s life is purposeless or meaningless is a great source of human suffering, and is one of the besetting problems of the contemporary world.  To find a sense of meaning is often an experience of genuine healing.

[hs_form id=”17″]

Purpose is Very Individual

In the earlier life, goals and strivings are often more collective, more mass oriented.  As our life moves along, and approaches the middle years, concern for individual purpose and meaning often grows.  I see that what makes life meaningful to my neighbour or my co-workers may not necessarily do the same for me.  My need is to find those things in life that are specifically meaningful to me.

When the need for individual meaning gets activated, the symbol of a diamond or precious stone might start to appear in a person’s dreams.  The diamond is the symbol of something that is well-nigh indestructible and lasting.  Lasting meaning may be the indestructible “inner diamond” of a person’s life.

finding purpose in life

Hope Diamond

Self Awareness and Self Acceptance

To find individual meaning, I must see and accept my own individual nature — my wholeness.  I need to find ways to accept and have compassion and respect for parts of myself that may disturb my conscious ego.  The “shadow self” despised or hidden by the ego often holds the key to meaning.

My Own Purpose in Life

Depth psychotherapy work is often about finding meaning and purpose in life through greater awareness of an individual’s real, fundamental identity.  It’s a journey to the deepest values in an individual’s life.

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike © Attribution License JMacPhersonBlue Diamond Photography
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


→ No Comments

What is Psychotherapy? Will it Work for Me?

March 23rd, 2014 · what is psychotherapy

What is psychotherapy, after all, and how could it actually connect to my life, and make a difference for me?

what is psychotherapy

How could “just talking”  make anything real happen in my life?

Distorting Stereotypes of Psychotherapy

Well, that question captures perfectly the way in which the popular understanding of psychotherapy contains an unfortunate distortion.  As Dr. John Launer recounts, an early name for psychotherapy was “The Talking Cure.”  However, that name fundamentally misses the heart of therapy, especially Jungian therapy.

Yes, therapy is all about talking.  Talking is its tool and medium.  But good therapy is much more than “just talking”.

The distorting stereotype of therapy embedded in our culture is best embodied in the image of Lucy’s therapy booth from the Peanuts cartoon strip.

what is psychotherapy

Lucy in the Peanuts strip is not a character generally distinguished by empathy.  Neither is she a person who listens very carefully.  She does, sort of, hear the person out, then immediately delivers her own glib advice —  often not very suited to the client’s situation.  The price of Lucy’s services?  Typically 5 cents — and, we tend to feel, that’s about what they’re really worth.

what is psychotherapy

A better description of psychotherapy than “the talking cure” might be “the listening cure”, “the dialogue cure” — or, even, the “relating-to-someone-else-to-get-into-better-contact-with-myself” cure!

Psychotherapy and the Undiscovered Self

What is psychotherapy?  It’s a process of dialogue with the therapist, in which a person opens up key problem dimensions and areas of pain and potential growth in his or her life.  In the course of this dialogue, at least from a depth psychotherapy point of view, the individual explores feelings and relates the story of important parts of his or her experience, for the purpose of having it sensitively reflected back and fully explored.

During this exploration, the individual may relate dreams and many other aspects of their experience which involve the unconscious — the parts of her- or himself of which the individual has not previously been aware.  Bringing the previously undiscovered self into awareness can often give the individual a different sense of identity and life, and of value and meaning. This is a highly individual process, as Jung tells us:



Psychotherapy and Your Personal Journey

What is psychotherapy?  A process of dialogue that can bring you into closer and better connection with your deepest feelings and thoughts, and your own real life.  A journey of understanding, and making choices, for our real selves.

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by  Hey Paul Studios ; “Peanuts” © United Features Syndicate, cited for the “fair use” purpose of critical examination.
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)



Can Counselling Help Me Through the Grieving Process?

March 17th, 2014 · the grieving process

The grieving process is one of the most difficult times in life, but it has its own shape and form.  Effective counselling or therapy can help us make our way through it.

the grieving process

There are many types of grief, but the deepest and most difficult concern the loss of those we love, who are the key people in our lives.

[hs_form id=”17″]

The Grieving Process: A Normal Human Thing

It’s a normal human thing to grieve, not a pathological state.

In extreme loss, there’s a natural pattern to grief.  The human mind-body goes through a process of accepting the reality of the loss, and ultimately, finding a way to retain a healthy connection with the reality of the loved person.  The grieving process will often take from 1 to 2 years, and, in certain types of circumstances, up to 5 years

In general, antidepressants are not the best way to deal with grief, for grief is not pathological depression, but a normal part of the human condition.  Harvard Medical School Psychiatry Professor Robert Berezin tells us:

Antidepressants should never be prescribed for grief.  They inhibit mourning. They numb out feeling and harden the personality.

A very important part of grief therapy can be helping the individual to accept the normalcy of the grieving process.


Whether loss is expected or unexpected, it is still devastating.  When a person who has been truly loved, an anchor in our lives, passes, something fundamental happens, right at our center.

the grief process

Counselling to enable the griever to take in the full impact of the loss – everything that the individual has meant, and still does mean — can be essential.  Working with an understanding therapist, who enables the individual to talk frankly and openly about the whole of their grief reaction, without having to worry about the impact of their grief on other loved ones, can be an invaluable, even essential.

Carrying the Loved One

In grief we must begin to work out our relationship to what Jung would call the imago of the departed individual, that part of the person that we carry within us, still, and forever.

What is the meaning of this individual to me?  How did he or she have significance in my life?  How will I carry his or her memory with me, on my journey?  All these questions point to important parts of the grieving process, with which counselling / therapy can help us. 

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by  nicksarebi  
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


→ No Comments

Do I Need Therapy? What Kind of People Seek Out Counselling?

March 10th, 2014 · do I need therapy

Do I need therapy?  What kind of people seek out counselling, or therapy, especially of the depth psychotherapy type? do i need therapy

What kind of people make the journey of therapy?

Psychologically Ordinary

We still labour under the prejudice that “only sick people” could possibly benefit from seeing a depth psychotherapist — what Prof. Bernard Swartz calls the “pathology orientation” error.  Yet that belief is not borne out by the facts.  The majority of those who see therapists don’t suffer from great pathologies and abnormalities.  The people who seek out counselling / therapy want something more than they are currently getting out of their lives, and they are prepared to do something about getting it.  Likely most people could benefit from therapy at some point in their lives.

People Looking for Depth

People who seek out counselling / psychotherapy are often seeking for genuine depth in their lives.

They may be looking for more meaning in their lives.  They may be looking to make a major life transition in a way that is as good for them as possible.  They may be looking for a clearer and more stable sense of personal identity.

If they’re dealing with depression or anxiety, they may well be people wanting a stronger sense of belonging in, and being rooted in their lives.

But, you may be saying, these are things that we all want more of!  Exactly…

do I need therapy

Well, Do I Need Therapy?

A person who is contemplating counselling / therapy may tell themselves, “Well, I can get by without therapy.”  Quite possibly, the person can “get by” without therapy.  But the key question for the individual is, “What price will I pay, in lost quality of life?”

Can therapy increase the sense of meaning in my life, and enhance my awareness that I, and my life, are worthwhile?

Many reach the point where they know that they just can’t or won’t accept the status quo in their lives anymore, and that fact, above all, is what makes them “the kind of people” who go for counselling and psychotherapy.

do I need therapy

Reframe the Question: What Do I Want From the Journey of Therapy?

Rather than focusing on whether I’m the “kind” of person who seeks out counselling, I may need to focus on whether I’m prepared to invest in therapy in a way that will allow it be of benefit to me.

Can I be open to the insights that therapy brings, or am I locked into a rigid and unyielding view of myself and of the world?  Can I recognize and accept that therapy will not magically change me into someone with a different temperament and nature?  That, in fact, the heart of individual therapy is increased compassion for the self.

Am I really open to changing my relationship to myself?   Do I need something different than I currently have?  Then the journey of therapy may be a key part of my journey.

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by ; gingerpig2000 ;  kudumomo
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


→ No Comments

Furthering Your Self Understanding with Jungian Analysis

March 4th, 2014 · Jungian analysis

Many people on the web rightly or wrongly call themselves “Jungian” — but what really is Jungian analysis, and how can it further your self understanding?

Jungian analysis

Let’s answer that question by starting with C.G. (Carl) Jung…

1.  Jung

Jungian analysis

Jung’s approach, called Jungian analysis, involves an extensive investigation of the unconscious mind of the client. Unlike many, Jung sought  to “look at a [person] in light of what is healthy and sound, rather than in light of [his or her] defects.”  He focused on a person’s strengths, and on the things that were trying to emerge from the unconscious of the individual.

Jung recognized that the unconscious may have a different attitude to life issues than the conscious mind.  Also, the unconscious may know things about our selves and our lives that the conscious mind doesn’t.  Jung thus anticipated many of the findings of modern neuroscience, which has established that up to 95% of the functioning of the brain/mind is unconscious — and that the unconscious part of the mind is often aware of much of which the conscious mind is not.

2.  It All Centers on Individuation

As Prof. Samuels tells us, individuation is “a person’s becoming himself, whole, indivisible and distinct from others”, and concerns individuality, and with the psychological conditions that may interfere with conscious living.  Jung tells us that it’s very common for the individual to be at odds with him- or herself.  The way the individual has consciously structured life may be fundamentally at odds with his or her own basic nature, in important ways.  Jungian analysis is about becoming aware of unconscious contents, so that the individual may integrate them into consciousness, furthering self-understanding.

3. Images of the Undiscovered Self

jungian analysis

Jungian analysis stresses that we often go through life “believing our own propaganda” — accepting superficial stories about ourselves.  Often we have an understanding of who we are based on how we have experienced our conscious life, and what others have told us, leaving out an enormous part of our inner richness.  As our unconscious self begins to emerge through previously unacknowledged feelings, dreams, or possibly  art or writing, we confront the undiscovered self, and the fullness of the person we are.

Example*:  X, a 40 year old financial services expert, hit an impasse in her career and relationship.  Through Jungian analysis, X realized that her career, though lucrative, was completely at odds with her actual personality, and that the perfectionism and workaholism that drove her had roots in inner pressures to “make good” and to “be perfect”.  Over time, she creatively remade her financial career in ways that aligned with her values.

4.  What is My Unique Way?

Jungian analysis brings us to greater self understanding by unfolding our own uniqueness.  What form might that adventure take for you?

*NOTE: This is a composite drawn from several cases, with all potentially identifying details changed to protect client privacy.
PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  Some rights reserved by  meddygarnet ;
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)