Jungian Therapy

Jungian therapy is a type of in-depth, talk-based psychoanalytic therapy. During therapy, you are encouraged to explore, and bring together, the unconscious and conscious aspects of your experience.

Jungian therapists generally use the term "unconscious" to refer to everything in your experience that you are not currently actively aware of. The unconscious may be explored by examining your dreams, memories or daydreams. The aim of this exploration is to bring unconscious aspects into your conscious awareness, therefore deepen your understanding of yourself and improving your wellbeing. The intensive nature of treatment is one of the main factors that distinguishes Jungian therapy from other therapy types. Learn more about Jungian therapy below!

Who is Jungian therapy named after?

Jungian therapy is so named because it is based on the work of Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Carl Jung. Jung founded a field of psychology called “analytical psychology,” which continues to influence therapy today.

What Jungian therapy can help with

Traditionally, Jungian therapists work in individual therapy settings. More recently, the scope of Jungian therapy has broadened to include working with couples and families as well. Jungian therapy can be helpful in the treatment of many mental health problems and other issues, including:

You do not need to be experiencing a diagnosable mental health problem to benefit from Jungian therapy. It is a style of therapy generally considered helpful for anyone wishing to develop a deeper understanding of themselves.

Effectiveness of Jungian therapy

Many studies support the efficacy of Jungian therapy, finding that participation significantly improves the health and wellbeing of participants. [1]  

As with any therapy, Jungian therapy has limitations. Due to its longer-term and intensive nature, Jungian therapy may become more expensive compared to other shorter-term types of therapy. For example, some studies suggest that significant changes are seen with an average of around 90 Jungian therapy sessions. [2]

How Jungian therapy works

Jungian therapy helps you to develop a greater self-understanding as you increase your awareness of the unconscious aspects of your experience.

Your therapist may help you to explore experiences from your past and consider how they may be impacting on you currently. Thoughts, emotions or behaviors that occur within the context of the relationship with your therapist are also seen as important ways of increasing your interpersonal awareness. Your therapist will help you to integrate these insights into your sense of identity.

The attention to unconscious factors means that the emphasis on Jungian therapy is on understanding the underlying source of the problem. This differs from some other therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which tend to focus more on addressing current symptoms.

Frequency of Jungian therapy sessions

The kind of in-depth work involved in Jungian therapy can bring up intense emotions. This is best managed by attending therapy frequently and regularly. It’s not uncommon for sessions to be held on a weekly basis, or sometimes more frequently, depending on how you are feeling.

Length of Jungian therapy treatment

Generally, Jungian therapy is a longer-term type of therapy, lasting months or even years. You and your therapist will work together to decide on the right time to finish up in therapy.

Unlike some shorter-term therapies like CBT, the end point of Jungian therapy is not necessarily linked to the reduction of mental health symptoms.

Structure of Jungian therapy sessions

As with most types of therapy, the initial Jungian therapy sessions involve your therapist asking you questions. During these sessions, your therapist is trying to build a picture of your concerns and how you think and feel. At this time, there is also a strong focus on developing a trusting working relationship with your therapist.

It’s important that you feel comfortable sharing difficult thoughts, emotions and experiences with your therapist.

Depending on your particular needs, later sessions are likely to become more discussion-based and free-flowing. The progression of therapy is less structured and prescriptive than other types of therapy. Instead, sessions tend to be more reactive to your individual needs.

People often participate in Jungian therapy for as long as they feel that they are continuing to benefit from it. This means that therapy sometimes continues even after symptoms of mental health problems have improved.

What happens in a typical Jungian therapy session

Although it varies by therapist, Jungian therapy sessions are commonly around an hour long.

Many techniques can be used in a typical session to help you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself. Techniques include:

  • Dream analysis and interpretation as a way of exploring the unconscious aspects of your mind. Your therapist may ask you to keep a dream journal and bring this with you to therapy for discussion.
  • Other creative techniques to help explore the unconscious may be used, like drawing or painting.
  • Examination of the relationship between you and your therapist, and how it may reflect past experiences in other relationships.
  • Exploring the symbolic meaning of the emotions you are experiencing.
  • Investigating past relationships and any meaning that can be taken from them that is of relevance to the present.

What to look for in a Jungian therapist

  • It is more typical in modern therapy for therapists to use a broader theoretical approach to psychoanalytic therapy, rather than working in a strictly Jungian approach to therapy. To be called a psychoanalyst, a licensed mental health professional must undertake further specialized training (often up to 8 years) and then pass the assessment of The American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis.
  • Therapists who have completed specialized training in Jungian therapy are likely to be members of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP). The IAAP maintains standards of Jungian therapy training and practice. This is an important membership to look for in your prospective therapist’s affiliations - look for “IAAP” after your therapist’s name. It ensures that they have undertaken the appropriate training
  • It is important to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable working. The trusting working relationship between you and your therapist, known as the “therapeutic alliance” can have a huge impact on how effective therapy is.

The best way to gauge how you might feel about your prospective therapist is to ask for a preliminary phone call. Most therapists will be happy to oblige. This gives you the opportunity to ask about your therapist’s:

  • IAAP qualifications
  • Experience with Jungian therapy
  • Any ongoing Jungian therapy training they are undertaking
  • What therapy with them will be like

1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217606/
2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217606/