We should not try to “get rid” of a neurosis, but rather to experience what it means, what it has to teach, what its purpose is.
My approach considers you as a whole person, your strengths and unique qualities, as well as your distress.
You may seek therapy because you are in pain or you feel a profound need for change in your life. Your functioning may be impaired by anxiety or depression, or a relationship may be a source of suffering. Perhaps old ways of coping are no longer working.
Most psychotherapists are now being trained to conduct short term therapy to help to cope with symptoms, such as anxiety, or with relationship problems. The therapist gives you tools to cope or communicate better, and you feel some relief, at least in the short term. This may be all that you are seeking. Or you may not even know that there are other possibilities.
In addition to helping you manage a symptom, my training and experience have shown me that a symptom can be a communication about an underlying problem. To better understand this, imagine that you go to your physician because you have developed a pain, and your physician’s only treatment is to prescribe pain medication so you can quickly get back to normal functioning. This would not be responsible: your physician also asks what is causing the pain, which could be something easily addressed or something quite serious if not treated.
A depth therapist’s or analyst’s approach to a symptom is more like that of a physician, and like a physician specialist, a Jungian psychoanalyst has years of advanced training. In psychotherapy, the relationship is a collaboration between you and your therapist, rather than the therapist recommending a solution.
How do we discover what lies beneath a symptom?
We have an unconscious, and we are only in part rational beings. When we engage the unconscious by coming to treatment, feelings and memories come up during therapy sessions. You may recall dreams that you bring to your sessions. In therapy, you can learn about methods of engaging the unconscious, such as spontaneous painting, painting images from dreams, authentic movement, or sandplay. A self-healing function of the psyche can be activated.
The confidential relationship between you and your therapist is important because you can openly discuss feelings and ideas that you would be reluctant to bring up in any other context. If you feel a rapport with your therapist and you can really work together, you will come to feel safe enough that feelings and ideas that you had not experienced before can come up in the session.
Feelings that arise toward your therapist and feelings “in the room” can be talked about. One way to think about this is that everyone has a tendency to recreate familiar situations, whether they are constructive or problematic. When you and your therapist can become aware of what is happening in the present time, during the therapy hour, you may learn about feelings and patterns that were so ingrained you didn’t recognize them. In Jungian analysis, the therapist and patient can explore this territory together.
CHOOSING A PSYCHOTHERAPIST
It is important that you choose a psychotherapist who is a good match for you and who is well trained in the kind of therapy you seek—just as you would carefully choose a specialist for a medical treatment.
In general, the qualities of the individual therapist are generally found to be more important than the treatment modality in which the therapist was initially trained. Some therapists seek out advanced training, including analytic or depth training, after coming up against the limitations of their initial approach.
Analytic training is pursued after a person is already a practicing psychotherapist. Admission to training is highly selective, and the training itself is rigorous, requiring years of coursework, consultation, and personal analysis. Yet analysts generally charge no more than other therapists with the same license. Why would someone do this? People who train as Jungian psychoanalysts most often feel a calling to be a healer and are committed to their own personal and professional growth throughout their lifetimes. This depth of commitment is something that you may wish to consider when choosing a therapist.
(“House of Vision,” ©Rachel Feferman (n.d.)