Alchemical Operations in Psychotherapy

alchemyThis blog has charted my journey through a transpersonal (integrative) psychotherapy training course at CCPE in London. I am now in year three. So far this year we have had lectures on existential psychotherapy, Jungian Symbolism and the transpersonal theories of Michael Washburn and Ken Wilber. In the first year we had lectures on the planes of consciousness and alchemy but now the heat is being turned up on the amount of transpersonal material to cover and, in particular, alchemical operations and further expansion of the planes of consciousness.

Outlined below is material from two recent lectures on alchemical operations.

The alchemical process of transformation has been variously described, depending on who you read, as being anything from a six-stage process to a 75 stage process. However, for our lecturer Nigel Hamilton, it is possible to understand the alchemical process in terms of four basic stages, this being most useful when starting out as an “alchemical beginner” and in trying to relate it to the psychotherapeutic process.

The process can be basically described in four stages as nigredo, albedo, citrinitas and rubedo and can be useful as a map in guiding client material in psychotherapy.  It is important to remember that there is never a perfect balance in alchemy. As soon as you resolve one tension of opposites there is another waiting in the wings.

The processes in alchemy include calcinatio (fire operation), solutio (water purification) coagulatio (earth operation) and sublimatio (air operation). Dream analysis can be one way of accessing this material where images can reflect a particular stage.

Stage One: Nigredo or “Blackening”

In nigredo the fire is considered slow and mild as of the flesh or “embryo,” gradually helping to bring about the first stage of the work, culminating in the earthly nigredo or “blackening.” This stage involves a purification of the earthly nature in us.

In psychotherapy this stage is experienced as entering a dark and chaotic unconscious inner world. St John of the Cross has referred to this as the first of two dark nights, the dark night of the mind, which is an encounter with the darker aspects of our self (that which Jung called “the shadow”).

Jung valued alchemy for its rich symbolic content and imagery.   The transformation of worthless metals into precious gold unconsciously reflected an internal developmental process of “wholeness” and health in the human psyche (which Jung termed as “individuation”).

The nigredo stage also involves the following processes mortificatio (when something dies), conjunctio (birth) and seperatio (needing to let go).

Stage Two: Albedo or “Whitening

Just as stage one is called the earthly encounter, so stage two is called the stage of the moon. This requires a further purification of our psyche and a receptivity to our soul nature, which originally incarnated free of worldly impressions, of the family, the environment, and society. Becoming conscious of our soul nature is the first real step in answering the question “who am I?”

In psychotherapy this could be viewed as someone withdrawing from the mainstream of life. Clients can experience sudden realisations about themselves and they often begin to question their life direction. It is easier to see, in a moment of insight, what is important and what is not. Alchemists sometimes refer to this as “sublimatio,” much like the vapours that rise from the chemical vessel, which is undergoing heating, carrying the essence that is sought after and is to be extracted.

For those who pursue their therapeutic process thoroughly, deeply and persistently, this period leads to a heightened spiritual awareness and purpose.

Stage Three: Citrinitas or “Yellowing”

This is known as the stage of the sun, or what the alchemists see as the dawning of the “solar light” inherent in our Being. Often described as the Divine Intellect (as distinct from the human, mental intellect) it is said that the only true knowledge is revealed to us when this Light becomes conscious in us.

Clients may lose all sense of individuality and move into a world that is almost totally subjective.  There is little or no ability to be objective, i.e. for the client to separate him/herself from the experience.

Stage Four: Rubedo or “Reddening”

In stage four, the alchemist awakens to the desire to return to the earth and to fully incarnate his or her state of “illuminated” consciousness into the mind and body. To achieve this, a purifying fourth fire, “burning and vehement, as of fusion,” must be used to bring about a new coagulation of spirit and matter. The culmination of stage three leaves the alchemist completely free in a state of Pure Spirit, Pure Intelligence, beyond space, time and form but without a consciousness of body or mind.

In psychotherapy this is when clients are faced with the task of implementing new realisations in their life and to transcend the nature of their problems or dilemmas.

It is worth adding that the principal of “solve et coagula,” or dissolve and coagulate, can be seen at each stage of the alchemical process.

Sources:

Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy (Reality of the Psyche Series) [Paperback] Edward F. Edinger

The Alchemical Process of Transformation.  The Origins of Alchemy. Nigel Hamilton.

Transpersonal Psychotherapy – Jungian Approaches to Imaging and Symptoms as Symbols

Jung and Symbolic Language

We are now returning to the more transpersonal focused material on the course.  We had  a strong taster in the first year during a week of creative imagination, which I personally found very powerful and transformative. Perhaps that week, upon reflection, was the foundation of the whole course for we had learned the fundamentals about working with the imagination. 

I have enjoyed the psychoanalytical theory thus far on the course and the existentialist lectures that formed a bridge from psychoanalysis to the transpersonal.  Now we are about to embark on the work of transpersonal authors such as Ken Wilber, and work with the Chakras, the planes of consciousness and the alchemical journey.   But first,  we had a lecture on Jungian approaches to imaging and symptoms as symbols

Symbolic language is the language of the soul. Remember that the shadow is not always negative.  The shadow contains all that is unconscious and might contain a positive quality.  For instance, being able to receive and acknowledge praise from others could be in the shadow as that person might not be able to easily receive compliments.

What does an image stir in you?  This is where advertising agencies have traditionally been particularly clever in targeting consumers with advertisements to sell expensive goods and services. Once you become conscious and discover what the symbol is all about it then will leave your psyche. A repetitive dream means we are not getting the message which our unconscious is sending us. In that case the image or symbol will continue to bang on the door.

Symbols and images can lead us into active imagination. Active imagination is a massive landscape containing all collective unconscious, where archetypes live and it is where Maslow referred to peak experiences.  What defines transpersonal psychotherapy is the defining orientation of the therapist namely that the client is a spiritual being.  Transpersonal psychotherapists share a lot of common ground with therapists from other schools in the way they will reflect back material to the client, mirror to the client, engage in active listening, holding and containing and so on. But the defining difference in transpersonal psychotherapy is the active seeking for the spiritual dimension.

you should be guided by the client.

It is dangerous to interpret symbols and images particularly from dreams.  You should be guided by the client. What do the presenting images and symbols mean to the client? Our job, however, as therapist is to help decode the symbols and messages from the inner world that are manifesting in the physical world. How can I help a particular client secure meaning for a particular symbol or image at this particular stage of their life? Reading a dictionary of images might inform your knowledge on the subject but might also produce the risk that you jump to conclusions.

How to work with the active imagination?

We can explore initially through association and interpretation as clients need insight. We can explore what is happening in the body. The aim is to associate where energies are getting tied up with particular symbols. Can we help clients to reclaim energy that is stifled elsewhere?

Here is an exercise on working with the active imagination. Take some mindful steps to becoming receptive by deep breathing.

1. What is your current main stressors?

2. How does it affect your body?

3. It is like ……?

4. Is there a memory where you felt like this before?

5. If this symptom was a friend what might it say about your life?

Then work with the images that come up. This exercise might help to bypass the defences with a client. Obviously one needs to tread carefully here when dealing with clients who might be experiencing psychotic symptoms.

Additional resources:

Some interesting quotes from the lecture:

Seyyed Hossein Nasr Man does not make symbols, he is transformed by them.

Myth consists of symbols that have not been invented consciously, they have just happened.  Jung

Erich Fromm  All myths have one thing in common; they are all written in same language namely symbolic language.  Symbolic language is a language in which inner experiences, feelings, and thoughts are expressed as if they were sensory experiences. It is a language which has a different logic to the one we speak in the day time. It is a logic in which time and space are not the ruling categories but intensity and association are.

The value of Jung

Jung’s model of personality typology is most helpful when it is used not as a way to classify oneself or others, but rather in the way he originally thought of it, as a psychological compass. So, in any problematic situation, I can ask myself four questions:

1) What are the facts? (sensation)

2) Have I thought it through? (thinking)

3) What is it worth to me to pursue this? (feeling)

4) What are the possibilities? (intuition)

The answers aren’t always clear, but the questions keep me alert.

Evaluate the relevance of elements typology to transpersonal integrative psychotherapy

Evaluate the relevance of elements typology to transpersonal integrative psychotherapy

 

The Elements model has a balanced view of personality. Whereas Jung believed we have a type, the elements model indicates that whilst we might have a particular orientation, we can develop other parts for a more balanced type. In some areas of our life, we are extroverted but introverted in other areas. The Elements model has 3 positions: expressive, receptive balanced, therefore, comprising twelve types in all, master, prophet and saint. However, no one is a pure type.

1. air (expressive, receptive, balanced)

2. fire (expressive, receptive, balanced)

3. water (expressive, receptive, balanced)

4. earth (expressive, receptive, balanced)

In this model expressive qualities are similar to the extroverted type, the more apparent, active dimension of the element and are connected with the path of the Master who overcomes limitation. The receptive dimension, on the other hand, is more inner, and therefore more introverted and subtle and is associated with the path of the Saint who consciously surrenders to the Divine Will. The middle ground of balance is the path of the Prophet who shows wisdom and discrimination to balance the two other paths. In this model the twelve groups of qualities are then associated with an archetype that is the ideal for each.

A transpersonal perspective on the psyche (Wilber 1978) is that we come from spirit, our true nature is divine and our essence is of a split-off fragment of an all-encompassing consciousness. The word ‘spirit’ is derived from spiritus which implies wind or breath. The alchemical journey is to reveal our true nature, before we were born. If we think of a garden, our personality is what we plant in the garden, the trees and the shrubbery. Character is defined by how we tender the garden. Attending to a fertile soil in the garden when there is abundant sunlight and temperate climate is very different to attending to a stony garden in the west of Ireland. In transpersonal therapy we create the fertile soil, the inner marriage with our inner selves. We can find the voice for the client or mirror a desire for the client.

Through the alchemy of transformation I can uncover a lot of my negative past or my shadow in the nigredo stage, similar to undertaking personal inventory work, and through to a brighter stage of albedo. Citrinas is largely unconscious and rubedo is an emerging new life. I have spent most of life struggling in nigredo and flipping between one addiction to another. I have received glimpses of albedo through therapy and meditation but sometimes it can be fleeting and any attempts at acquiring serenity can feel like pushing water uphill. For me, personal transformation is predicated on the willingness to “let go”. How can I achieve this if I am nursing unhealthy fantasies and active addictions? I do not have much experience of mastering. In my meditation I can feel great resistance as my ego defences are very solid. Mastering for me would represent being able to sit with my feelings and not have some manic activity consuming my attention. My own personal therapy is a journey of letting go, acquiring a new rhythm, keeping an open mind, trusting the process and developing new layers of honesty with my therapist.

Freedom in the elements model is when we are free of our history. We no longer react in the instance but can provide a considered response as the soul has its own journey.

For the elements model I like to think of the analogy of a balloon. A balloon when full of ‘air’ and ‘fire’ will rise and be up in the clouds before very long. I can be very ‘intellectual’ and be powered by researching and pontificating economic ideas whilst I fail to change the light bulb in my house. This is further evidenced by my wife asking me to pick up some bread or milk from the shop or her jacket from the dry cleaners. In spite of having the day to myself I will invariably have run out of time to do the basic housekeeping jobs in hand. However, when ‘water’ and ‘earth’ is added to the balloon there is a very different effect. Through meditation or therapy sessions, I realise that my ‘air’ element is distorted. I therefore feel the need to walk in green surroundings taking in the fresh air and I notice my breathing becoming more relaxed and whole. I often take myself to Richmond Hill overlooking the river Thames (a scene which Turner made famous) and begin to get a sense of being “in the now.” My receptive ‘earth’ and ‘water’ qualities are accessed and I then feel less compelled to intellectualise or to argue but rather to “just be” and to take in the smells and the colours. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I am at this serene place and yet am in distorted ‘fire’. I am looking to argue and fight with other road users en route, for instance, if I felt I was cut up whilst cycling. This is when ‘fire’ can be a liability. Or I may be so wrapped up in my own head that I fail to appreciate the colours and the beauty and completely misswhat is beautiful and, therefore, suffer from too much ‘air.’

In the CCPE weekend groups, we observed in group work the elements at play in walking. It was intriguing to note that some walked with so much air they were up in the clouds and ran the risk of walking into things. Others walked with lots of fire and were very off putting in their stance. I have since used the observations in coffee bars whilst observing people come and go. This is useful when seeing clients since body language can be another indicator of what is happening at an unconscious level. I believe that our job as transpersonal therapists is to make conscious the unconscious. Observing body language can be an essential part of our basic toolkit.

Critique of elements

Critics of the elements model suggest that those with borderlinepersonality or psychotic symptoms are not appropriate candidates for transpersonal therapy techniques because of the potential for ego defences to be overwhelmed. But these conditions are probably relative contraindicationsat best. However, for Linehan, he used and visualisation with borderline patients in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and suggested that even patients with fragile or unstable ego functioning can benefit from such work.

The assumption in the elements model is that we carry all elements in ourselves and we adapt and repress others but we can potentially get in touch with all of them. Through the transformation of alchemy in the elements model, we discover harmony in the relationships between all parts.

Ultimately true healing does not happen in the head. It occurs through feeling toned realisations in response to a lived experience. That is why the analytic process, when pursued on an intellectual level, and that includes most self-analysis, is sterile. As we come to understand and appreciate transpersonal experiences and process, we can evaluate other cultures better and learn from their accumulated centuries of transpersonalwisdom. We can, in effect, reclaim what has been called “the Great Tradition,” the sum total of humankind’s cross-cultural religious and philosophical wisdom so that we may better serve our patients.

 

Related posts

Alchemy of transformation

Archetypes

The relevance of personality types in psychotherapy

The important aspect of assessing the relevance of personality types in psychotherapy is that the various typologies are merely a map to guide the therapist when seeing clients since nothing is set in stone. I believe that the purpose of therapy is to uncover the true feelings of the client.  

If our patients are of a similar “type” to us, it can be easier to understand and empathise with them. They will be comfortable following our language and working with the scripts and choices that we make therapeutically. However, what happens if our patients have some different preferences to us? Perhaps they have to really stretch themselves to follow our words and ideas? Maybe as a therapist I am finding it really difficult to “click” as I may find it difficult to understand exactly what they are saying, feeling or doing. An understanding of personality types is therefore useful in the therapeutic environment. The therapist carries a basic tool-kit of essential skills such as emphatic and listening skills; knowledge of typologies can also be a useful guide when thinking about how we communicate with our clients and how we build rapport.  Personality models are a way of understanding the clients but they can be limiting if we judge and put people “in boxes”.  Defences within the client are there for a reason and they need to be broken down very gently.

Psychotherapy is the cornerstone of most treatments and usually must continue for more than a year to change a person’s maladaptive behaviour or interpersonal patterns.  The Clinical model can be useful when dealing with extreme distortion.  The Jungian model can be useful for assessing how one operates in the world, how we interact in organisations.  Essentially any system of typology is no more than a gross indicator of what people have in common and the differences between them. Jung’s model is no exception. It is distinguished solely by its parameters— the two attitudes and the four functions. What it does not and cannot show, nor does it perhaps pretend to, is the uniqueness of the individual.

Both Jung and Clinical (illness) models are based on conflicts and oppositions in the psyche.  In the illness model, pathological symptoms emerge from conflict in society.  Freud thought that we needed to conform and fit in with the expectations in society.  Nowadays, we believe that we fit in with ourselves.   The assumption in the elements model is that we carry all elements in ourselves and we adapt and repress others but we can potentially get in touch with all of them. Through the transformation of alchemy in the elements model, we discover harmony in the relationships between all parts.

Ultimately true healing does not happen in the head. It occurs through feeling toned realisations in response to a lived experience. That is why the analytic process, when pursued on an intellectual level, and that includes most self-analysis, is sterile. As we come to understand and appreciate transpersonal experiences and process, we can evaluate other cultures better and learn from their accumulated centuries of transpersonal wisdom. We can, in effect, reclaim what has been called “the Great Tradition,” the sum total of humankind’s cross-cultural religious and philosophical wisdom so that we may better serve our patients.

Resources http://www.personalitypage.com/high-level.html

High-Level Description of the Sixteen Personality Types

 



ISTJ

Serious and quiet, interested in security and peaceful living. Extremely thorough, responsible, and dependable. Well-developed powers of concentration. Usually interested in supporting and promoting traditions and establishments. Well-organized and hard working, they work steadily towards identified goals. They can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it.

Click here for a detailed description of ISTJ.

ISTP

Quiet and reserved, interested in how and why things work. Excellent skills with mechanical things. Risk-takers who they live for the moment. Usually interested in and talented at extreme sports. Uncomplicated in their desires. Loyal to their peers and to their internal value systems, but not overly concerned with respecting laws and rules if they get in the way of getting something done. Detached and analytical, they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.

Click here for a detailed description of ISTP.

ISFJ

Quiet, kind, and conscientious. Can be depended on to follow through. Usually puts the needs of others above their own needs. Stable and practical, they value security and traditions. Well-developed sense of space and function. Rich inner world of observations about people. Extremely perceptive of other’s feelings. Interested in serving others.

Click here for a detailed description of ISFJ.

ISFP

Quiet, serious, sensitive and kind. Do not like conflict, and not likely to do things which may generate conflict. Loyal and faithful. Extremely well-developed senses, and aesthetic appreciation for beauty. Not interested in leading or controlling others. Flexible and open-minded. Likely to be original and creative. Enjoy the present moment.

Click here for a detailed description of ISFP.

INFJ

Quietly forceful, original, and sensitive. Tend to stick to things until they are done. Extremely intuitive about people, and concerned for their feelings. Well-developed value systems which they strictly adhere to. Well-respected for their perserverence in doing the right thing. Likely to be individualistic, rather than leading or following.

Click here for a detailed description of INFJ.

INFP

Quiet, reflective, and idealistic. Interested in serving humanity. Well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with. Extremely loyal. Adaptable and laid-back unless a strongly-held value is threatened. Usually talented writers. Mentally quick, and able to see possibilities. Interested in understanding and helping people.

Click here for a detailed description of INFP.

INTJ

Independent, original, analytical, and determined. Have an exceptional ability to turn theories into solid plans of action. Highly value knowledge, competence, and structure. Driven to derive meaning from their visions. Long-range thinkers. Have very high standards for their performance, and the performance of others. Natural leaders, but will follow if they trust existing leaders.

Click here for a detailed description of INTJ.

INTP

Logical, original, creative thinkers. Can become very excited about theories and ideas. Exceptionally capable and driven to turn theories into clear understandings. Highly value knowledge, competence and logic. Quiet and reserved, hard to get to know well. Individualistic, having no interest in leading or following others.

Click here for a detailed description of INTP.

ESTP

Friendly, adaptable, action-oriented. “Doers” who are focused on immediate results. Living in the here-and-now, they’re risk-takers who live fast-paced lifestyles. Impatient with long explanations. Extremely loyal to their peers, but not usually respectful of laws and rules if they get in the way of getting things done. Great people skills.

Click here for a detailed description of ESTP.

ESTJ

Practical, traditional, and organized. Likely to be athletic. Not interested in theory or abstraction unless they see the practical application. Have clear visions of the way things should be. Loyal and hard-working. Like to be in charge. Exceptionally capable in organizing and running activities. “Good citizens” who value security and peaceful living.

Click here for a detailed description of ESTJ.

ESFP

People-oriented and fun-loving, they make things more fun for others by their enjoyment. Living for the moment, they love new experiences. They dislike theory and impersonal analysis. Interested in serving others. Likely to be the center of attention in social situations. Well-developed common sense and practical ability.

Click here for a detailed description of ESFP.

ESFJ

Warm-hearted, popular, and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs. Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty. Value traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Need positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well-developed sense of space and function.

Click here for a detailed description of ESFJ.

ENFP

Enthusiastic, idealistic, and creative. Able to do almost anything that interests them. Great people skills. Need to live life in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with details. Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities.

Click here for a detailed description of ENFP.

ENFJ

Popular and sensitive, with outstanding people skills. Externally focused, with real concern for how others think and feel. Usually dislike being alone. They see everything from the human angle, and dislike impersonal analysis. Very effective at managing people issues, and leading group discussions. Interested in serving others, and probably place the needs of others over their own needs.

Click here for a detailed description of ENFJ.

ENTP

Creative, resourceful, and intellectually quick. Good at a broad range of things. Enjoy debating issues, and may be into “one-up-manship”. They get very excited about new ideas and projects, but may neglect the more routine aspects of life. Generally outspoken and assertive. They enjoy people and are stimulating company. Excellent ability to understand concepts and apply logic to find solutions.

Click here for a detailed description of ENTP.

ENTJ

Assertive and outspoken – they are driven to lead. Excellent ability to understand difficult organizational problems and create solid solutions. Intelligent and well-informed, they usually excel at public speaking. They value knowledge and competence, and usually have little patience with inefficiency or disorganization.

Click here for a detailed description of ENTJ.

 

Transpersonal approach to the interpretation of dreams

As I prepare for the week-long  series of lectures on creative imagination I  have been wondering about dreams.  We have had an introduction into dreams this week.  Where do we get our ideas from?  Can symbols carry us beyond our ordinary mind?  Is there a deeper wisdom beneath the mind?  Can the unconscious mind speak in symbols?  Perhaps our ordinary thinking can be linked to our ego?  I sense there are more questions than answers with this material.

There is a basic transpersonal map:

Consciousness is multi-dimensional and can be seen as a spectrum from the dense physical state of manifestation through the subtle realms of the creative imagination to the very subtle plains beyond form and ultimately to non-dual unity.

 Unity/Eternal Oneness Consciousness exists in its pure undivided original state of oneness, beyond duality, formless, pure spirit transcending yet inclusive of all other levels of consciousness. Spirit descends into form through the subtle planes becoming manifest as symbols

– this is the manner by which the Divine reveals itself in a form that we can comprehend.

The Subtle Plane of Creative Imagination The plain of symbolism or creative imagination is the intermediary plane between spirit and the manifest, physical world. Spirit descends into subtle form materializing as symbols. The manifest forms of the physical world ascend to become the templates for symbols. This is the realm of the creative imagination and dreams. The meeting ground of spirit and matter is in the heart chakra. “Very few people understand the heart. In truth, your heart is one of the masterpieces of creation. It is a phenomenal instrument. It has the potential to create vibrations and harmonies that are far beyond the beauty of pianos, strings and flutes…. Your heart is an instrument of extremely subtle energy that few people come to appreciate” (Singer 2007, p.49).

 Himma is the Sufi term used to describe the creative power of the heart to imagine, to know intuitively and spontaneously, by-passing the rational mind to create immediate understanding. It is a vital, purposeful force or energy that awakens one from limitation. The soul uses the vehicle of the body and its senses to experience life on the physical plane but flowing through is himma, the subtle capacity of penetrating life deeply, reading the signs and the secrets hidden in all things (Corbin, 1969). Via the creative imagination, we can bypass the rational mind and enter into the transpersonal depths bringing direct experience. “In this direct encounter, the thick, heavy fixated quality of experience falls away, revealing a deeper, living intelligence contained within it” (Welwood, in Hart et al (eds) 2000, p.99).

 The Manifest Plane The plane of physical forms (Dense/Gross matter). This level equates with our body and instincts. Our ego divides the world into subject and object and our thinking tends to be more concrete and rational. The Sanskrit term for this is vijnana meaning divided. Through the creative imagination, the forms of the physical world are ‘spiritualized’ – they become symbols in the subtle realms. This is an ascending movement.

References

Corbin, H. (1969). The creative imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi. Bollingen SeriesXCI:Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Hart, T., Nelson, P. & Puhakka, A. (Eds.) (2000). Transpersonal knowing. Suny: New York.

Singer, M.A. (2007). The untethered soul. Noetic Books, Institute for Noetic Sciences: New Harbinger Publications.

Basic General Principles

? The basic function of dreams is to express the psyche.

? The images that appear in dreams are symbols of parts of us and can reveal the dynamics of our inner life. Dreams show us in symbolic form all the different personalities that interact within us and make up our total self.

? Every aspect of the dream ultimately has something to tell us.

? Re-entering into the dream using the waking dream technique allows for direct experience and connection with the dream material.

? From a transpersonal perspective it is important that the dreamer finds their own guidance and meaning through working with the dream rather than the psychotherapist making interpretations. The therapist can share their thoughts on the dream after the client has had an opportunity to experience it directly.

The subtle creative imagination in the intermediary realm, the world beyond the material, communicates to us.  We as therapists are not here to interpret the symbols for the client.  What is the spirit world?  Our own part?  The transpersonal perspective believes in a form of  something beyond the mortal body.  For some this can be essence, God, spirit, light, deeper sources of wisdom.  For each student, their journey is an individual one.  You can’t force the unconscious but you can train yourself to dream. 

Basic skills and their application to image and dream work

? Creating a safe container for the work. Negotiating with the client –

making a “mini contract” and getting the clients’ co-operation for the exercise.

? Making sure that you the therapist are in a balanced, grounded, calm and receptive state taking time to breathe and connect with your inner presence.

? Management of time allowing for beginnings, middles and endings.

Dream and image work often moves us into “timeless” realms and clients can go very deeply into an internal space. You are responsible for managing the time effectively.

? Awareness of body language, breath and voice tone – this can become more and more refined and subtle.

? Attentive listening.

? Accurate summarizing of the image or dream symbol descriptions.

? Reflecting back the core statements that arise.

? Sensitive and discriminating questioning to clarify the images, feelings and content of the dream. Using questioning to open up the dream.

Think of your approach like carrying a basic toolkit. Your heart is a receptor that picks up subtle energies.

 

More soon…..

 

Resources and links:

Dream Moods: Dream Theories: Carl Jung

Myths-Dreams-Symbols Carl Jung

Jung’s Approach to Dreams

Dream Analysis » Dream Analysis, Jungian Psychology & Inner Work

Dream Interpretation at Freud and Jung

Dream Interpretation at Carl Jung

JUNG’S DREAM THEORY The dream theory of Carl G. Jung (1875-1961

Unus Mundus — Carl Jung, Dreams and Archetypes

Carl Jung’s Theory of Dreams

 

 

 

 

Archetypes

“What keeps happening?” – Michael Jacobs

I am in the middle of a weekend course on archetypes. It is fascinating.

Some observations:

The truth will be revealed regardless of the costs.  How?  Through archetypes. Plato wrote about archetypes. Jung was concerned with the psychological, our lived experience. The function of archetypes is to help and transform our personality and character. The purpose of the spiritual archetypes is to reveal our true nature (soul). James Hillman referred to deepest patterns of pyschic functioning. A typical archetype can be a “mother complex”.

See this list for more on Jungian archetypes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungian_archetypes

Our lecturer alluded to the image of a garden. The personality is what we plant in the garden, the trees and shrubbery etc. How do we become a true reflection of who we are meant to be. Our character is defined by how we tender the garden. We get reminders from people who really know us that we are not being ourselves. What is our dream? Do we sabotage that ideal? Is the soul here for its own joy? Indeed what is soul? (the whole issue of the soul will be a another topic for another day).

How do we manifest that which is within us? Our group work dealt with the physicality of walking. What are we showing in our walking? Air, Fire, water or earth? Can we uncover stuff from creative imagination?

Are we all inherently pure and innocent? Is there evil?

More soon…….

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Jungian personality types part 2

Last night’s lecture was on Jungian personality typology part 2.

Intuitive (extroverted) – These types can feel imprisoned and trapped and are lacking in commitment. Thinking and feeling (auxiliary functions) are repressed.  Fully repressed is sensation.  This type gives priority to the vision rather than the reality on the ground.  They can be immoral and can be perceived by others as inconsiderate.  They are speculators, entrepreneurial, traders, publishers or art dealers.  They can be paranoid, phobic and superstitious.  Howard Hughes was supposed to have been this type.  It can feel like depression but this won’t react to medication.

Intuitive (introverted) – This type can see the big picture but their attention is turned within.  They are stimulated by the sensate function.  They can run from one image to another but nothing quite satisfies. They are constantly looking for the buzz of new relationships.  The images which get expressed are often archetypal.  They are creative and artistic.  Van Gough was considered this type.  Images need releasing, not the feelings.  They can be viewed as aloof, cool, calm and collected (as their inner life is taking precedence). Extroverted sensation is most repressed.  They can be gurus but they get into trouble over money and sex. An approach in therapy with this type is to help them with artistic expression. they are not a good witness in court.

Sensate (extroverted) – The primary orientation with this type is towards objective reality. They pursue pleasure.  They are the type that would make a good witness in court.    They make good managers and know how to make money.  They can be prone to phobias and can also become paranoid.  Intuition is repressed (subjective realm).  The approach with this type would be to get them to think, work out consequences and to “feel”.  These types are always busy and feel like they need to press “reset” in order to get clarity.  They can suffer from extreme OCD.

Sensate (introverted) – these types are primarily governed by subjective response to what is outwardly perceived. These types seek inner intensity from sex, drugs or dangerous sports.  They can be patient types, and have an ability to be with people, they are carers, healers, and are good with children.  But they are not worldly.

The important thing to remember is that most of us are carrying these types in us but the work is to decide what our preference is and what are the functions.

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Jungian personality types

Last night’s lecture was about the fascinating subject of personality types  from a Jungian perspective.  More people tend to be a thinking (extroverted) type and essentially the conventional traits tend to be rational and progressive with lots of “oughts” and “shoulds“.  These types tend to be the organisers and can make good bankers, managers and lawyers i.e. what is rational thinking.  This type can appear cold and calculating as all feeling tends to be hidden but they also tend to be loyal and faithful and are therefore useful in organisations.  A psychological crisis for a thinking (extroverted) type is when the repressed inner world comes into conflict and out of the shadow.  An approach in therapy would be to deal with the client’s inner ideas and ideals.

The thinking (introverted) type is concerned with their own ideas internally.  They are happy in their own bubble.  They could be the lonely researcher who forgets to eat.  Apparently Jung himself was this type.  This type is less addictive and more withdrawn. They become extremely possessive and can be fearful of the opposite sex.

Do you recognise any of this?

Feelings (extroverted) types are your typical relationship types.  Their sense of self is derived from their relationship.  They are co-dependent.  They will seek harmony at any cost and they try not to upset anyone.   They feel like they have “lost” themselves when a relationship ends. Their most repressed function is the thinking (introverted). They can’t say “NO” as they have massive boundary issues.

Feelings (introverted) “Still waters run deep”: These types have strong feelings but the feelings are not easily expressed.  They are constantly seeking an image in the outer world that reflects their inner reality.   They can find life overwhelming.  They are inconspicuous in organisations but are also harmonious.  They exert a calming influence in a room. The approach is to work with creativity with these clients and to give expression to the inner world.

Always, yes ALWAYS, projection is when you need to work on yourself and work out what the button that is being pressed by other people is all about.

More on Jung next week.

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