As Fall begins, many people find themselves considering therapy as the vacations and other sunny distractions are over and the pressing concerns they thought they had left behind in the Spring begin to re-emerge.
From those who have not been in therapy before, I sometimes hear a fear of what they might “find,” implying that the unknown things inside them can only be bad or shameful.
Depth psychotherapy offers a process to move beyond where one is comfortable. Through “engagement” with what is inside and outside one’s psyche there is the opportunity to discover not just difficulties, but a hidden gem in a shadowy, dark cave.
Carl Jung wrote that “Not only must the patient be able to see the cause and origin of his neurosis, he must also see the legitimate psychological goal towards which he is striving.” This idea–that even our neurosis has a meaningful goal towards which it is propelling us–is why I found Jung’s psychology so compelling so many years ago, and still compelling today.
Instead of only looking at a person’s difficulties and struggles as something to be labeled and then rejected, Jung proposed this radical idea — that our very afflictions hold the germ of “something essential… something meant for life” which should be cultivated! A connection with the unwanted or unlived aspects of one’s unconscious is what most people fear in psychotherapy; the notion that there cannot be anything worthwhile about these deep parts of the psyche sometimes seems impossible, frightening or, at best, uncomfortable. Yet Jung posits the very opposite viewpoint; it is the unknown, unconscious aspects of our experience that hold the keys not only to the answers we seek to our struggles, but also to an undivided, whole self.