Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Counselling for Depression or Anxiety: Will it Work for Me? ~Pt 2

January 29th, 2018 · counselling for depression or anxiety

Continuing from the last post, we’re looking at more of the factors that help to make counselling for depression or anxiety effective for you.

counselling for depression or anxiety

Could it be effective for you?…                            PHOTO: Robert Bejil

As I mentioned at the outset of that last post, therapy or counselling for depression or anxiety can offer unique benefits in helping the individual to peacefully accept him or herself, and in terms of accessing creative and life-giving ways to approach her or his life.  In the previous post, we looked at some ways in which this occurs in effective therapy.  Here, we look at some more…

Am I Really Willing to Forge a Close Connection with My Counsellor / Therapist?

In counselling for depression or anxiety, as in all forms of therapy, the therapeutic relationship is crucial.  Psychotherapy experts such as Prof. John Norcross and others note that the quality of the relationship with the psychotherapist largely determines the success of the counselling or therapy.

If you can:

  • openly discuss how you experience your interactions with your therapist directly with him or her;
  • discuss your positive or negative reactions to your therapist, and,
  • discuss what you imagine your therapist might be feeling or thinking,

you will actually develop a great deal of insight into what is happening inside of you.  (Warning: this isn’t going to happen in the first 3 sessions!}

Being Honest with Myself — In a Way That’s Kind to Me

Therapy or counselling works when we have the courage to be as honest with ourselves as possible.  However, it’s also essential to avoid beating yourself up once you’re been honest!

As many have stated, to make counselling or therapy work you need a combination of non-defensive honesty with genuinely compassionate self-acceptance.  It’s easy to fall into a defensive, self-protective stance when we face an uncomfortable insight into how we’re living and handling situations in our lives.  When we react this way — and we might well, if counselling or therapy are asking the right questions — it’s essential to try as hard as we can to be both honest, and full of love and compassion towards ourselves.

What’s My Basic Personal Story? Am I Willing to Let Go and Change It?

The human mind constructs a fundamental story about our lives in the world.  We use story to help ourselves make sense of the events and complexity of life.  The kind of story we tell ourselves will greatly impact how we feel about ourselves, and on what we expect from our lives, and our relationships.

Depth psychotherapists know that the story we tell ourselves is often largely unconscious.  Yet it’s still extremely powerful.  If we’re in the grips of a story that has us as the hero who must save everyone, or as the perpetual victim, or as the perennial misfit, it can basically run our lives.  Virtually every situation in which we find ourselves can seem to confirm the story.

Are we willing to try to observe patterns in our lives that might give us clues as to the nature of the overarching story in our lives?  It can be very important to take in the big picture in our lives, and then ask — is this story good for me?  Does it really reflect who I am? Am I willing to try and change it — change my beliefs — if it’s a limiting or crippling story that just isn’t fair to me?

Am I Willing to Actually Change Things in My Life?

counselling for depression or anxiety

Experiment!   (PHOTO: NASA)

Are we prepared to act in support of new beliefs or changing attitudes, by doing something concrete in the outer world?  If therapeutic work is to make a difference, the work must extend beyond the therapist’s office, and into our lives.  Am I willing to make appropriate outer changes in my life? To try new and different patterns of activity?  Am I willing to do inner work, like journalling, creative work, or exploring dreams?  Undertaking such concrete, conscious steps may be essential to making my therapy work real and effective in my life.

Counselling for Depression or Anxiety as A Journey to Wholeness

Jungian depth psychotherapy occurs both within the hour of therapy or counselling, but also inside the individual client and in his or her outer life outside of the therapy session.  The integration of these elements structures the journey towards wholeness, .

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst


PHOTOS:  Robert Bejil (Creative Commons Licence) ; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2017 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


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Counselling for Depression or Anxiety: Will it Work for Me?

January 22nd, 2018 · counselling for depression or anxiety

Many people consider counselling for depression or anxiety if they find themselves struggling with these issues.  But is it a good idea?  Here’s a frank assessment.

counselling for anxiety or depression

There are a number of factors that go into deciding whether to seek therapy or counselling for depression or anxiety.  Therapy or counselling can be highly effective with these issues, but it’s essential to understand what the process entails, before committing to it.
There are many other approaches to treating depression or anxiety — e.g., medication, exercise, mindfulness meditation, etc.  All of these can be of some benefit, and many of them can be profitably combined.  However, the path of counselling or therapy offers unique benefits, in terms of self-understanding, self-compassion and forging new and creative directions in life.  To gain these benefits, though, it’s essential to give the process what it really needs to move forward.

Am I Prepared to “Get Real”?

We all hide behind masks in our world, and to some extent, we all have to.  If we were to just uncontrollably vent our feelings of anger or frustration on our boss, or on the traffic cop who pulls us over for a ticket, things probably wouldn’t go well!  So, hiding who we really are, to some degree, is often a very important thing to do in life, enabling us to survive and flourish.

Yet, there may be a lot of situations in life where we wish that we could be real, and show who we really are, perhaps more than we do.  This can be a very important area of growth for many people.

In particular, it can be essential to show who we are, if we expect counselling for depression or anxiety to help us.  Only if we’re honest about our reactions, and what we’re thinking and feeling, can we really begin to accept, understand and take care of our true selves.

People may come into therapy, and feel that they’re expected to wear a “good therapy client” mask — to be who the therapist or counsellor expects them to be.  Yet in all kinds of counselling or therapy, and especially depth psychotherapy, it’s essential to be honest and open about who we really are.

Can I Acknowledge My Feelings — and Not Get Totally Lost in Them?

Part of being real is truly acknowledging my feelings.  It’s essential to bring those feelings into the counselling or therapy and to work with them.

Some feelings are easier to acknowledge than others.  Anger, shame, and intense grief are examples of very strong feelings that are hard for many to be honest and open about in the context of counselling or therapy.

On the one hand, acknowledging our feelings can be a demanding task.  Yet, once we bring them in, it’s equally important to not to be just run by our feelings.  We need to acknowledge them, but not let them “take over the show”.  Just venting, or what used to be called “catharsis” of feelings won’t bring healing.

We need to bring up our feelings, to know them well, and to be compassionate towards the parts of ourselves that feel them.  We can then use what we learn from those feelings to help ourselves in the whole of our lives.  Developing the capacity to do this is often an essential part of counselling or therapy.

The Source of Genuine Change — is in Me

Ultimately, genuine change comes from acknowledging who we really are, while changing what we actually can in our lives.  This especially involves changing our attitudes and approaches to things inside of ourselves.  When all is said and done, willingness to find the ways to change what we can in our lives, and particularly in ourselves, will be decisive factors in effective therapy or counselling for depression or anxiety.

Jungian depth psychotherapists emphasize the importance of the unconscious mind.   For effective therapy, much depends on whether the client is open to the changing attitudes that are trying to emerge from the unconscious.

counselling for anxiety or depression

Counselling for Anxiety or Depression as A Journey to Wholeness

The authentic connection involved in therapy can be of tremendous value to those suffering from anxiety or depression.  Central to this process is the environment or climate of acceptance created in good counselling or therapy and the positive and supportive alliance between the therapist / counsellor and the client.  A strong alliance enables the creation of self-acceptance and self-compassion and the process of being profoundly honest with oneself.  These factors are the dynamic core of real change.

The work of Jungian depth psychotherapy has as its goal the journey towards wholeness, a self accepting and self-compassionate understanding and integration of all that we are.

For Part 2 of this post, click here.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst


PHOTOS:  Caitlin Regan (Creative Commons Licence) ; D. Brandsma (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2018 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


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Reactivated Memories of My Childhood in the Second Half of Life

January 15th, 2018 · memories of my childhood

The extent to which “reactivated memories of my childhood” are a theme for many clients in the second half of life — is striking.

Those powerful linkages to childhood  (PHOTO: Alyssa L. Miller)

Naturally, childhood memories can be a focus for any individual in any part of their journey through adulthood.  Yet there is often a unique quality in the life stories of individuals at mid-life or later.  When they speak of experiences, or patterns of experience, that they have had in young life, it’s clear that these experiences have often impacted the whole of these individuals’ lives.  What’s more,  when people speak about often stunningly intense childhood experiences, it’s often clear that they have become intensely aware of the emotional and life-altering power of these experiences in a whole new way in the most recent part of their lives.


Rediscovering the Power of Memories of My Childhood

The human psyche is programmed to facilitate the survival of the individual.  Not always, but often, an individual may undergo difficult or painful experiences, yet keep moving forward in his or her life, going through the life tasks of childhood, the teen years and the first part of adulthood.  She or he may be so focused on survival issues during these life stages that the painful experiences remain very much in the background.

However, it may be that, as the person approaches or moves through midlife, even into later life, perhaps even as they watch their children go through key transitions in their personal journeys, the emotional impact of key life experiences from the past may become apparent.

There are a wide range of such painful or difficult emotional experiences that can have a deep impact on the whole direction of a life, and may well have linkages to depression or anxiety.  Some of these may relate to traumatic experience, such as the possibly physical injury or the loss of a key family member.  Others may relate to difficulties in key relationships.  For instance, very problematic relationships with a parent who cannot bond with or love a child, or cannot accept a child, can have a very pronounced effect throughout life, as psychotherapists well know.


memories of my childhood

Central Memories

Specific life events may activate the memories of childhood in the second half of life.  The times when children in their teens pass key milestones in their life journey (first love, transition to university) can touch key emotional sensitivities (called “complexes” by Jungian depth psychotherapists) in parents.  This may open up significant emotional territory.

Example.  Cecily’s 22 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD.  As she learned more about her daughter’s diagnosis, and the nature of ADHD, she became acutely aware that her father had shown almost identical characteristics throughout his adult life, and that ADHD-related patterns of behaviour had led to a great many difficulties for her father and her family, and had involved great personal cost to Cecily.  While she had soldiered through these issues as a young person, Cecily, now in her 50s, began to find that the feelings were now impossible to ignore.

“Cecily’s” experience has power, because it touches on some of the key aspects of human experience: fatherhood, parenthood and the family.  Jung used the word “archetypal” to refer to “patterns of thought or behaviour that are common to humanity at all times and in all places” (D. Sharp, The Jung Lexicon).  In this sense, we can say that peoples’ experience of the reactivation of “memories of my childhood” are often archetypal.

Jungian depth psychotherapy deals with the past of the individual, including the “memories of my childhood.”  It embraces the whole of the individual’s experience and life history, and accepting all as a key part of the “journey towards wholeness”.  Through being open to all that the individual is, through this perspective of wholeness, the work seeks to uncover a new sense of personal identity, direction and meaning.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst


PHOTOS: Attribution Alyssa L. Miller (Creative Commons Licence) ; Neville Wootton (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2017 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)




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New Year’s Renewal: Can You Recreate Yourself? …Should You?

January 8th, 2018 · recreate yourself

We have just begin the New Year, a time associated with renewal and often with a subtle message of the need to “recreate yourself”.  For what are we actually yearning?

Re-Creating Me… Take One!                      (Photo: Eelke)

At New Year’s we often desire to bring things into our lives that have a greater sense of reality, meaning and authenticity.  Perhaps we make New Year’s resolutions: to lose weight, to quite smoking, to travel more.  These urges stem from awareness of the passage of time, and a sense that we want the time to count, to get more from our lives than perhaps we’ve actually been getting.  What, concretely, can we do with these yearnings?

New Year’s and Renewal

Jungian analyst and depth psychotherapist D. Stephenson Bond stresses that marking the New Year fundamentally involves us with the “archetype of renewal”.  This ancient theme of renewal was present in New Year’s celebrations in ancient Sumer as long ago as 3500 B.C.E.  Sumerian New Year concerned the renewal of the King, who was seen as the embodiment of consciousness and cosmic order for the society, and the rites were called Akitu, meaning “power making the world live again”.

New Year’s, touches our own deep yearning for renewal.  As Stephenson puts it,

Renewal is a theme that expresses itself in every culture, every individual life, every analysis….  There are times at life’s deepest reach when the guiding principles that once made sense of the world seem to falter.

At New Year’s, we may intuit that “guiding principles” that once made our lives coherent and meaningful, and that gave us forward direction are faltering.  We need somehow to move forward on our journey towards wholeness.  But how?

Re-Inventing Ourselves?

Our current culture is full of yearning for deep and fundamental renewal.  One recurrent phrase carrying that kind of meaning is “reinventing oneself“.  Even popular psychology magazines carry prominent articles entitled, “10 Rules for Reinventing Yourself”.  That sounds inviting, but what are we to make of this idea of “self-reinvention”?

Depth psychotherapy would tend to see such language as potentially rooted in failure to accept ourselves for who we most fundamentally are.  One of the things which can trap people in endlessly repeated patterns of pain in their lives is the inability to accept who they really are in a genuinely compassionate way.

Such patterns get lived out again and again.  We may know individuals who goes from one painful romantic relationship to another, attracted to hurtful, abusive and even psychopathic partners because they cannot accept and value themselves.  Often, there is an unconscious part of themselves that feels that a difficult and even punishing partner is all they can attract, or is what they deserve, or is somehow their fate.

Often, if the individual can get to a place of genuine, self-compassionate acceptance, this painful and destructive dynamic can change.  But if “re-inventing oneself”, means that by massive effort of will, the individual is going to cut through very long held patterns in his or her life, and somehow push that life onto another track — this may just be another form of violence to the self, of turning anger inwards and expressing self-hatred.  It may even be associated with an unconscious and self-attacking fantasy of “being someone else”.

To find true meaning in our individual lives we need more than this.  Depth psychotherapy would emphasize our need to seek in the direction of C.G. Jung’s observation, using the gender conventions of his day, that,

“Every individual has the law of his life inborn in him.” 

 recreate oneself

The Journey to Who We Are

How do we get to this unique, inborn ” law of life” within?  The essence of this journey is through a compassionate exploration and listening to our own being.  This involves a clear-sighted examination of our lives and our journey, together with an attempt to listen to and be aware of the unexplored aspects of what Jung called the Undiscovered Self.  This occurs through dreams, perhaps journalling, artwork or other forms of self-expression, and through noticing the many unexpected ways in which who we truly are emerges in our daily lives.

Jungian depth psychotherapy serves the deep human desire for renewal.  It assists the individual in discovering meaning, direction and vitality through enabling the individual to connect with his or her most fundamentally identity, and finding viable ways to live out that reality.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst


PHOTOS: Attribution Eelke (Creative Commons Licence) ; Nagesh Jayaraman (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2017 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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