Exposing the Naked Psyche in Therapy
This is the seat, a comfortable old swivel chair, that my client this morning will sit in as he continues on his journey of healing. It isn’t easy to begin and to stay on the path that leads through darkness holding the ghosts of one’s past, and the disturbing dreams that arise from the junction of past and present. As many of you already know, my practice is informed by a blend of models such as Gestalt, Brief Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy and a few others. Serving as a foundation to these modes is Jungian Psychology, also known as depth psychology.
So what does that mean, depth psychology? Well I guess it simply means that whatever it is that brings a person into a therapist’s office, the problem is rarely something that is strictly on the surface. Wounds happen to the self in the outer world. If the wounds can’t be healed with bandages, casts or surgery, there is likely something within the body and/or mind that asks the healer to go deeper. A physical disease such as diabetes or cancer makes this demand on the physician. Wounds to the psyche are much the same. The difference is that most of the work of healing must be performed by the person who is wounded. The therapist is a guide through that work. Of course, a guide is only as good as the guide’s personal experience and training. Imagine trying to be a guide for a tourist group travelling through China when the guide has never left North America and simply bases the plan on information gathered from books. It’s not exactly reassuring to those being guided.
It is no accident that one can’t be an effective guide without having experienced being led through the swamplands of the dark inner spaces. Typically, therapists in depth psychology sit in the chair for a minimum of 100 hours with countless hundreds of hours doing “homework” involving work that is basically stripping down to the bare self, exposing the stuff hidden and denied. Think of it as nudity of the psyche that leads to a positive inner self-image.