Matthew HarwoodJungian Analysis, Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems
‘I am often asked about my therapeutic or analytic method. I cannot reply unequivocally to the question. Therapy is different in every case.
When a doctor tells me that he adheres strictly to this or that method, I have my doubts about his therapeutic effect…
I treat every patient as individually as possible, because the solution of the problem is always an individual one…
A solution which would be out of the question for me may be just the right one for someone else.’ (CG Jung)
What Does ‘Jungian’ Mean?
In practice most psychotherapists do pretty much the same sort of thing no matter what their training. Research shows that what is most important is to have a good feeling-connection with your therapist. The question of which particular style of therapy he/she practices is secondary.
Jungian psychotherapists are trained in the principles taught by Professor CG Jung (1875-1961). He was originally Freud’s favoured disciple and his chosen heir. But he fell out with his master over a number of issues and went on to found his own school.
What were the main differences between them?
Jung’s & Freud’s Views Contrasted
1. Jung felt that Freud’s view of the unconscious was too negative. According to Freud it was a repository of wild, irrepressible impulses which had to be uncovered and tamed. Jung discovered a more positive side to the unconscious. He saw it as a well-spring of powerful, healing wisdom.
2. Jung felt that Freud placed too much emphasis on sex. Sex was important, but it was not the be-all and end-all of everything. According to Jung if human beings can be connected with the richness of the ‘symbolic life’ then they can unlock their capacity for creative living and be helped to fulfil their potential.
3. Whereas Freud was an atheist, who regarded God as an illusion, based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure, Jung had a more spiritual approach to life.
4. Whereas Freud liked to have his patients lie in an inferior position on a couch. Jung preferred two chairs face-to-face. He thereby emphasised a more modest attitude in which:-
- the therapist is not the ‘one who knows’,
- the therapist engages with the client in a shared, mutual exploration on equal terms, and
- the client is enabled to find his or her own meaning without prejudice or assumption.
Jung’s house at Bollingen
Jung’s Distinctive Contribution
To be fair, many of the above principles are now widely accepted throughout the whole field of psychotherapy. Practitioners from other schools often fail to realise the debt which they owe to Jung’s pioneering work.
Nevertheless, there is a distinctive flavour to Jungian psychotherapy which continues to mark it out as unique & irreplaceable – the commitment to spirituality, to the importance of the symbolic life, and to the creative power of ‘Self’ and the ‘objective psyche’.