Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Counselling for Anxiety & Depth Psychotherapy, 2: Flow

May 15th, 2012 · Anxiety, counselling, counselling for anxiety, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

counselling for anxiety

Counselling for anxiety shows us that anxiety pulls us out of the flow of life, and depth psychotherapy can show us how and why this occurs.  How can we avoid this hijack, and push through our anxiousness to live life in our natural rhythm?

Anxiety Rips Us Out of the Present

Our own experience of anxiety shows that we’re not really in the present when gripped by an anxious state.  Psychologically, that state pulls us into the past or the future — and possibly both.  Counselling for anxiety shows that our struggle with anxiousness will either maroon us in the past, in past failures struggles or conflicts, or in the future, paralyzed by fear around future outcomes.

It All Relates to the Self

Anxious states pose big questions for us about either our own security or capability — or both.  The questions most often associated with anxiety refer to oneself, such as,  “Am I going to be alright?” or “Am I going to be able to do or accomplish XYZ?”  In one way or another, our anxious unease poses questions to us about the well-being and preservation of the self, and/or about personal identity.

Anxious States are Rooted in Our Complexes

From a Jungian perspective, anxious states are rooted in persistent mental objects called complexes.  These are knots or clusters of emotional energy that gather around a certain stimulus.  When a complex is activated, we are drawn back into old emotions and feelings, which keep us disconnected from the present situation.  Often, because of the way that the brain works, when we are caught up in the intense emotion produced by a complex, we do not think clearly, and we do not have a good sense of ourselves, and of our boundaries.  We get tangled up, and are unable to move through the challenge of the situation with any sort of natural flow.

Acting From Ourselves in the Now

In the process of counselling for anxiety, the primary question faced is a question that is also found in depth psychotherapy.  Put basically, that question might be stated as “How can I truly be myself in this situation, with confidence in who I am?”  A creative answer to that question can only be found when we understand in ourselves the emotional obstacles that stop us from “flowing” in the present – the complexes.  Untangling these knots, and getting to their sources, is a key goal in depth psychotherapy work.

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Counselling for Anxiety & Depth Psychotherapy, 1: Roots

April 30th, 2012 · Anxiety, counselling, counselling for anxiety, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

counselling for anxietyCounselling for anxiety involves the client growing to understand the roots of anxiousness, and depth psychotherapy gives us insight into unconscious factors that lie behind our being consciously anxious.

Yearning for Return

Depth psychotherapy reminds us of that part of our psyche which yearns for a return to somewhere warm, safe and non-threatening — the womb.  Yet, here in our real lives, we’re alone, isolated, and trying to cope with challenges we all face.  With these many challenges in our individual lives, we enter anxious states.  A depth psychotherapy perspective on counselling for anxiety /  therapy for anxiety affirms that.  The question is, how can we best respond to these states?

Counselling for Anxiety and the Self

Jungian analyst James Hollis sees counselling for anxiety as engaging with

“… a free-floating disease which may be activated by nearly anything, which may light for a while on something specific, but which usually originates from the general insecurity one feels in one’s life.  The level of that insecurity… is partly a function of one’s particular history.  The more troubled one’s environment, family of origin and cultural setting, the more free-floating anxiety will be generated.”

Being anxious is also connected to situations.  Sudden shifts in realities that we have taken as certainties, for instance, can greatly increase our anxiousness.  In the film Jerry McGuire, Jerry (Tom Cruise) has the rug pulled from under his professional life, and responds with a classic film portrayal of a hyper anxious state:

Energy and Avoidance

Using Jung’s characteristic metaphor of emotion or affect as energy, we could see anxiety as energy that doesn’t know where to go, or how to flow.  It can often lead to us avoiding the situations where we’re anxious, or else, we can find ourselves “getting anxious about becoming anxious”.  But can counselling for anxiety use it as a guide for finding what is stable and lasting in the self?

Potential Benefit in Anxiety?

“How could depth psychotherapy possibly find any good in this?” a severely anxious person might wonder.  Yet, often, getting to the root of anxious states takes us to places in ourselves where we are wounded, or in conflict, where our spontaneity and energy is bound into knots, called complexes, that need to go free.  A depth psychotherapy approach to counselling for anxiety is fundamentally about getting an ally to help in understanding, accepting and having compassion for ourselves at the deepest levels, and in moving into basic trust.

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© 2012 Brian Collinson

 

 

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Depth Psychotherapy, Shadow Work & Dealing with Shame

April 2nd, 2012 · dealing with shame, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, Shadow, shadow work, shame

dealing with shame

Dealing with shame is essential psychological work, and it is closely tied to shadow work, from a depth psychotherapy point of view.

Shame is a fundamental aspect and problem of human existence.  We need to find ways to cope with it.  But it’s a thing that we can often find hard to talk to anyone about, even though we may feel a great need.

No One Gets Through Life Without Shame

All of us experience shame acutely in our lives.  Most of us can feel right into times and places where it was acute.  Times when who and what we are was exposed to the core and felt to be lacking.  Depth psychotherapy knows such experiences mark us with wounds that we often feel that we can’t show to anyone.

Dealing with Shame When It’s Toxic

The times when we feel genuinely ashamed of ourselves can be truly toxic.  Depth psychotherapy reveals that we are often most ashamed when we are unable to know and accept who we are.  As Jungian analyst Mario Jacoby states:

At a certain intensity, shame has the power to make us feel

completely worthless, degraded from head to foot,

sometimes without our having done anything bad at all.

When it cuts across the partially conscious image we have within ourselves of how we want to be seen, valued and respected, it does particular violence.  How can we then find value in ourselves?

Dealing with Shame: Escape?

Given the experiences of shame we all carry in our lives, how can we recover our self esteem, and value what we most fundamentally are?  Only in fundamental self acceptance can we hope to move past our bondage.

Shadow Work: What Shadow Knows

A famous radio program in the 1940s and 50s had the tag line, ” Only the shadow knows…”  There’s some truth in that.  The shadow, in the sense of the unacknowledged and unconscious parts of the personality, knows many important things about shame.

Shadow work shows that there is no perfection in this life.  That we all struggle with our inability to match the idealized self image that we carry within.  Only when we begin to encounter that part of ourselves that knows and accepts all that we are, can we put off our pretensions, and with them, our shame, and realize the ways in which our broken-ness and weakness make us one with the rest of the human race.   As depth psychotherapy knows, this enables us to move into our own unique destiny.

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© 2012 Brian Collinson

 

 

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Depth Psychotherapy, Stress Reduction & the Holidays

December 8th, 2011 · depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, stress, stress reduction

Stress reduction during the Holidays: can a depth psychotherapy perspective help with keeping the season genuine and human?

depth psychotherapy

I hear from many people in many ways at this time of year how hard it can be to stay true to oneself.  People find it hard to stay with how they really feel; to keep to what they want for themselves, instead of being driven by others’ expectations; and, to stay with their own genuine spirituality.

 

Approaching the season in the spirit of depth psychotherapy, here are 4 potentially important elements.

Honest Connection, Not “Going Through the Motions”

Relationships with others in the holiday season can be routine, rather than genuinely connected.  Sometimes I would really rather not see a particular person at all; experiences of betrayal or violation by family members, for instance, can generate such feelings.  Or, it may be painful to pretend to be as others rigidly expect me to be.

These holidays, could my stress reduction involve making my connections with others reflect how I really feel in my depths?

Authenticity, Not Conventionality

Similarly, my holiday activities might be motivated by what I’m expected to do, rather than what I really want.  How free can I be this year to do what genuinely matters to me?

More Living, Not More Stuff

We all know the ever-growing marketing pressure to buy more at this season.  Underlying this compulsive push is a powerful fantasy: the idea that owning the right things will lead to an imaginary good life of fulfillment.  But maybe the key to our fulfillment has much more to do with what we experience.  How could I alter my holiday season to experience more, in order to feel more alive?

Depth of Feeling, Not Sentimentality

The holiday season is often full of hackneyed sentimentality, both sacred and secular.  I can feel a lot of pressure to feel what I’m “supposed” to feel, rather than what I actually do feel.  This doesn’t mean that I have to be cynical; in our era that can be a canned sentiment, too.  What do I genuinely feel and think as I reflect about myself, the season, those close to me, and my journey?

Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer expresses these psychological truths:

 

My very best wishes for the Holiday season,

PHOTO: © Wessel Du Plooy | Dreamstime.com
MUSIC: “I Belive in Father Christmas”, Greg Lake © 1975  Atlantic Records  All Rights Reserved.
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga

 

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Depth Psychotherapy for Depression: Five Key Truths

May 9th, 2011 · depression, depth psychotherapy, Jungian depth psychology, psychotherapy for depression

Often, people try depth psychotherapy for depression when other possible solutions haven’t helped — or haven’t helped enough.

depth psychotherapy

By depth psychotherapy, I mean those forms of therapy that are really prepared to look at the depths of the psyche, the deepest parts of our being.

From a depth psychotherapy point of view, there are a number of key facts about depression.

  • It is Serious; It Cannot be Ignorred

A depressive state is not some odd accident that has occurred to an individual.  It is something that is originating in the depths of the person, and it is emerging for a reason.  Addressing such a condition is going to take a deep level of commitment, in order to get to its source.

  • Depth Psychotherapy Goes Far Beyond “Happy Talk”

Jungians know that depression is rooted deeply enough within ourselves that mere attempts on the part of the conscious ego to “stay happy” or “keep positive” are not going to be enough.  Something deep and fundamental must change within us, if we are to get free.

  • Depression Has to do with “the Other” Within Us

A depth approach to depressive states often involves encountering the Other, or, as Jungians say, the Shadow, in ourselves, that part of our ourselves that we might prefer not to acknowledge.  Often, it is those unacknowledged parts of ourselves that wish to become alive, and to be incorporated, that carry the key to the healing that is needed in depression. Here’s Jungian Analyst Jame Hollis, at a recent event, on the Other:

  • Depression is Often About Seeking New Meaning

As Hollis says, it can often be that we encounter depressive states because something in us is searching for meaning.  Often a “down state” is tied to the desire in the depths of us for renewed value and significance in our lives.  To find what is personally meaningful to us is a deeply individual search that depth psychotherapy takes very seriously.

  • Something New is Trying to Emerge within the Individual

When we are in the grips of a depressed state, there is something that is trying to emerge within us.   This is a hopeful thought: that much of depression is connected with a striving on the part of something in our lives to emerge, and to be alive. A depth psychotherapy approach to depression takes individual persons and their needs very seriously, and involves encountering new aspects of the self.  What do you think about therapy? Wishing you new discovery of yourself on your journey toward wholeness, Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst   To Main Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice  1-905-337-3946

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© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Oakville / Mississauga border)

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Depth Psychotherapy: Can I Get a Witness?

August 9th, 2009 · depth psychotherapy, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, listening, Psychotherapy

Witness for Vibrant Jung Blog

Some of you will recognize this phrase from R and B music; some of you may recognize it as a phrase used in the black church; but, it has an awful lot to do with depth psychotherapy!

A lot of people come into therapy because they need someone else to simply see and acknowledge the reality of their lives.  This is a very basic human need.  We all need someone, at some point, to see us, really see us, the way that we actually are, rather than the way that we might seem in all our social roles, and amidst all the pressures that we find in our lives to be what it is that others want us to be.

To have someone to whom we can actually tell our story.  Just as importantly, maybe more importantly, to tell our story with someone to witness it…  To finally have the chance to do that can be one of the most important and precious things in human life.  I certainly know that is the gift that my therapists gave to me.  I know that it is a precious thing for many who come into therapy.

I invite you to tell your story, to someone who really knows how to listen and who is not burdened with a lot of preconceptions about who you are.  You way well surprise yourself with who it is that you really are!

 

I’d be interested in your comments about the times in your life when you have felt really seen, heard … witnessed.  

 

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca 

Email: brian@briancollinson.ca

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© 2009 Brian Collinson    

 

 

 

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Depth Psychotherapy & Your Own Personal Mythology

October 25th, 2008 · depth psychotherapy, mythology, personal mythology, Psychotherapy

Mythology is of great interest to depth psychotherapy, and has been a matter of vital importance throughout the time that humans have been upon this planet. Myth-making is one of the fundamental ways that humans understand and make themselves at home in the world.

Myth-making is an expression of the deepest parts of the human psyche.  In the symbols that appear through dreams and in the rest of our lives, we find the touchstone for our ownAborigine sea turtle for vibrant jung thing blog personal mythology.  This is the truth of our lives expressed in a way that is far deeper than mere statements about our lives can express.

 

© Joanne Zh| Dreamstime.com

 

Carl Jung, the depth psychotherapy pioneer, was one of the first people to speak of individuals as having their own personal mythology.  He believed that, in the contemporary era, it was going to be a matter of psychological necessity for more and more people to find their own myth or narrative for their lives.  He stressed that it was only in finding this personal mythology that many contemporary people would be able to find the sense of fulfillment and grounding in life that would make a meaningful life possible.

Are you one of those people who needs to explore and develop your personal mythology?  Has that process already started within you?

What does it mean to find your own mythology?  Above all, it means to take seriously the symbols in Maori moais for vibrant jung thing blog your life, and to treat them as a unique reflection of your own deepest being.  It means accepting that I am a mystery only partially known to myself, and that my vocation and purpose in my life is to understand as fully as possible the symbols and images that appear from within myself.  It means understanding and accepting that I am something greater than simply my own ego or conscious self.

© Jose Tejo| Dreamstime.com

 

A man dreams that he sees a huge tree, greater than any sequoia, planted in the front yard of his house.  It grows greater and greater, and finally no one can ignore that it is there…

A woman dreams of a dolphin that visits her, and beckons her on a journey…

A man dreams of finding himself on a sea voyage on a beautiful sailing craft that belongs to a goddess-like woman…

Does your own myth beckon to you?

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