Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

What Helps Depression: Individual Therapy & Soul Work

May 28th, 2012 · depression, individual, individual therapy, soul, soul work, therapy, what helps depression

what helps depression

Individual therapy and careful, gradual soul work are often key elements in what helps depression.  “OK,” you’re saying, “other than a fancy buzzword or slogan, what is ‘soul work'”?

Saying anything about soul may seem strange in 2012.  “Isn’t it just an irrelevant step back into the Middle Ages?” you may ask.  Well, here’s why depth psychotherapists consider it important.

Doing Soul Work?

As I’ve stated in earlier posts, soul as used here has nothing to do with organized religion, astral projection or seances, but with connection with the deep images and experiences of inner life.  It concerns the deepest and most intimate levels of what is going on inside a person.

How Does It Occur in Individual Therapy?

In a recent “Facts and Arguments” piece  in the Globe and Mail newspaper, entitled “A psychiatrist’s double bind“, psychiatrist Gili Adler Nevo wrote of her experience of soul work in individual therapy:

 I entered the world of psychotherapy not knowing what to expect. How the hell could it help, just talking?

I’ve talked before…. Yet, gradually, in the privacy of this shrine for the individual soul that was the therapist’s office, in this sacred place free of malice, motives or moral judgment, I could set my soul loose.

It had been cooped up for so long, it didn’t even know it. And my soul, like anyone else’s, seemed complicated. Different layers protruded every time….

Letting it out into that attuned and understanding comfort enabled my soul to live in peace with all its parts.

 Nevo contrasts her own experience of therapy with a patient in a psychiatric setting, whom she efficiently diagnoses and prescribes Prozac.  She clearly finds this modern psychiatic care to be incomplete:

I could not afford to create that sacred place for the soul in which she could untangle her layers, understand the source of her depression and climb out of it. I did not have the time: It was no longer in the culture of my profession.

Does Soul Work Truly Help Depression?

I’m not suggesting that antidepressants are not necessary sometimes.  But they are often not sufficient.  Often people need to get in contact with their depths, and to experience acceptance and understanding.

Individual therapy

What Helps Depression

“Just talking” is sometimes disparaged.  Yet the journey of talking about the fundamental matters in personal life, and contacting the many aspects of the self is a key element of what helps depression.  It can free the life locked up in the individual.

PHOTO:  Attribution Some rights reserved by haprev214

 

 

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Psychotherapy for Depression: 5 Jungian Insights

September 30th, 2011 · depression, Jungian, Psychotherapy, psychotherapy for depression

psychotherapy for depressionDepression, and psychotherapy for depression are very big topics, and the following insights from a Jungian perspective certainly don’t exhaust them, but do show us some ways to begin.

1)  You are Not a Gadget

This is the title of a recent book by Jared Lanier, the basic point of which is that humans are quite dissimilar from computers.  Jungians would agree, emphasizing that dealing with depression in a way that takes human individuality seriously means that we can’t simply treat depression as faulty programming to be re-coded, or a faulty module to be replaced by a new one.  Depression requires us to take seriously the unique personality of the individual suffering from depression.  One-size fits-all “Cookie cutter” solutions don’t help.

2)  What Can’t I Acknowledge?

One thing that may be fundamental in addressing depression is the acknowledgement of the shadow, those aspects of our life and experience that we have been unable to accept.  This may concern past wounds, losses or the acceptance of my own nature.  We may even have learned at an early age to be fundamentally rejecting of basic aspects of who we are.

3)  Lost Vitality

A common aspect of depressive experience is a loss of vitality.  Jungians observe that frequently, when an individual is depressed, and has a sense of lost vitality in his or her waking, conscious life, the person’s vitality or energy has shifted into the unconscious part of the personality, where the person may be seeking to resolve conflicts, or come to some new insight or attitude.  An important part of healing may be to assist in this process, by finding ways to foster the emergence into consciousness of what is new.

4)  Lost Hope

A similar issue to 3) above is loss of hope.  Often, individuals can have experiences that “shut them down”, and can find themselves at a point in life where life lacks meaning, and thus hard to find any hope.  The recovery of hope can be vital, if the individual is not to turn into a shell of his or her former self.

5)  A Well with a Bottom

James Hollis tells us, “From a Jungian perspective, intrapsychic depression is a well with a bottom, though we may have to dive very deeply to find it.  In every case, one has to ask the fundamental question, what is the meaning of my depression?”  Jungian psychotherapy often provides the appropriate means to find a vibrant, vital and individual answer to that question.

PHOTO:  NoncommercialNo Derivative WorksSome rights reserved by npatterson
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

 

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Escaping the Grip of Regret, Part 3: Through Phoenix Gate

August 11th, 2010 · complexes, depression, depth psychology, guilt, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, regret, Shadow, soul, therapy, unconscious, unlived life, wholeness

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on regret, I have tried to portray something of the nature and power of regret as it manifests in our lives.  Hopefully I have succeeded in making one very central thing clear: regret is not some peripheral thing in our lives that is going to be cleared away by simply improving our thinking.  It strikes deeper.  It is much more fundamental.  How then are we to deal with the presence of regret in our lives?

One of the first steps is to frankly acknowledge the danger to us that regret represents.  Regret, truly strong regret, has the power to deprive us of a meaningful life in the present, even though it concerns events in our past.

Neither will regret be skirted.  It often stands in the center of the road of our journey.  The way that it holds our energy can seem hopelessly entangling.

Acknowledging the sheer pain of regret can be very hard to do.  As is often the case with strong negative feelings, we try to deny their existence.  Yet it is only acknowledging the pain that really makes us aware of the life that has been lost, of which the regret reminds us.  And it is only in acknowledging the pain and sometimes the despair that is associated with regret that the energy that is tied up in it can begin to be freed up to move toward something else in our lives.  And that something may have real life and real meaning for us.

Despair is usually the last place we want to go.  The last thing we want to face in our lives.  Yet, it is in our despair that our energy gets caught.

What is it about what we regret that really keeps us from wanting to release it?  Can we face the hurt inherent in failed hopes?  Does regret really move us more deeply into the question of what our life is about, and whether we find it meaningful or not?  As the character Ivan says in the recent film Greenberg , can we really come to accept and cherish a life other than the one we planned?

Carl Jung frequently used a phrase that he took from the ancient world” amor fati .  Literally translated, it means “the love of one’s fate.”  This is not a phrase to be chucked around glibly, and Jung certainly did not do that.  However, the idea of loving one’s fate is the mirror opposite of living a life that is consumed by regret.

When one looks at the painful, and sometimes even horrific events that can be endured by human beings, one can only conclude that it would be a grim mockery to counsel someone to somehow love these actual events.  That would be the bitterest possible perversion of some idea of positive thinking.  I don’t think that is what Jung means when he uses the phrase amor fati. I think what he does mean is that the person who loves his or her fate somehow lives in hope, and sees a meaning emerging in the midst of the fabric of his or her life.  Such a life and such a hope offers the possibility of living passionately into life — beyond the chains of regret.

I’d welcome your comments on this post, and on the whole subject of dealing with regret.

Wishing you every good thing on your  personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Guy Allard | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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