What is Analytical Psychology?
Analytical psychology approaches psychotherapy and depth analysis in the tradition established by the Swiss psychiatrist, C. G. Jung. As originally defined by Jung, it is distinguished by a focus on the roll of symbolic and spiritual experiences in human life, and rests on Jung’s theory of archetypes and the existence of a deep psychic space or collective unconscious. Following Jung’s original work ongoing research in his tradition incorporated findings from other disciplines and schools of depth psychology, making analytical psychology a vibrant and growing field of inquiry and therapeutic innovation.
The goal of Jungian analysis is what Jung called individuation. Individuation should not be confused with simple individuality, or eccentricity. Rather, individuation refers to the achievement of a greater awareness of the factors influencing how a person relates to the totality of his or her psychological, interpersonal and cultural experiences. Jung identified two deep levels of psychological functioning that tend to shape, color and sometimes compromise a person’s experience of life. Along with Freud, Jung recognized the importance of early life experiences, which he referred to as personal complexes that arise from disturbances in the person’s life all of which are found in the personal unconscious. Jung’s particular insight, however, was his recognition that we are also influenced by factors that lie outside our personal experience, and which have a more universal quality. These factors, which he called archetypes, form the collective unconscious, and give shape to cultural narratives, myths and religious phenomena.
The analytic process is intended to bring these factors, both personal and collective, into consciousness, allowing the individual to see more clearly what forces are at play in his or her life. Implicit in Jung’s understanding of the archetypes in particular is the sense of a telos, or goal toward which one’s life can be directed. The role of the analyst is to help facilitate the individuation process and accompany the analysand on his or her personal journey.