In my practice I have come across people who approach the experiential side of Jung’s work – that is, Jungian analysis – from many different starting points.
Take Sandra*, for example. (* Her real name has been changed for privacy reasons.)
Sandra had been going to a local Jung Society for a number of years and had listened to many lectures and podcasts on various topics. She had read some books about Jung, or about Jung’s ideas written by others.
But Sandra had never dipped a toe in the water and done any hours of Jungian analysis of her own.
We could say that all her Jungian knowledge was theoretical, and largely unrelated to her own personal life experience.
She did not know what her own dreams meant, or what they may have been trying to tell her.
When she came to me, she was full of enthusiasm about beginning or actually trying this process she had heard about so often.
She felt there must be more than the concepts she had learned about through lectures and books. These concepts seemed somehow to relate to other people, but didn’t have any lived meaning for her.
Within the first few sessions we had together she was amazed at the depth of insight contained in her dreams and the symbols in them – and how, working with a trained Jungian analyst, she now had access to those insights. … New keys to new doors.
Sandra has grown as a person in the time I have known and worked with her. She has discovered new layers of meaning in her life and personality, and feels her life is richer and more anchored for having undertaken this journey – a journey of experience, as distinct from merely ‘education’ or knowledge gathering.
But her story, like the stories and journeys of all my analysands, is private. I just wanted to highlight here something of the difference that undertaking a Jungian analysis with a trained analyst can make.
The difference – well, one of the key differences – is that analysis is truly individual. It is all strongly focused on You. It is about working with your dreams, your life, your process. Jungian theory and learning is about all the various concepts and ideas that CG Jung developed over the course of a long life.
The photo below shows Jung’s Collected Works – all 22 Volumes.
This is a collection of the written material and transcripts of many of his recorded lectures on a wide range of topics – all about the psychological knowledge that he developed.
Then there are all the books that have been written by other people. Some of these authors were Jungian analysts, and were writing from experience. Other authors were academics, or journalists, who were reporting on Jung’s life (as in biographies) or exploring his work in a broader perspective.
Some authors, you might be surprised to learn, have never done any Jungian analysis, and are therefore not writing from ‘inside experience’ at all.
The photo below shows just one section of my library of books about Jung’s ideas written by others – and closely related topics.
The key question to ask yourself, if you are considering entering a Jungian analysis is this:
How much has your life ever been affected, or indeed changed, by reading one of these books?
Are you ready for a change?
The journey is personal and unique for everyone who undertakes it. No two processes follow the same pattern or trajectory. It all depends on where you begin, and how deep you want to go.
But one thing is sure: you do not need to have studied Jung’s ideas or have a grasp of Jungian terminology before beginning an analysis. Your analysis will unfold organically, in its own time, with its own rhythm. If you need to understand a concept along the way, the materials are there to help you. I will explain what you need to know, and I can point you to articles on my website, or to particular books, podcasts or videos.
And then, by learning about the theory, or the underlying concepts along the way, you will be learning with the benefit of experience to shape and deepen your understanding, compared to someone who does not have the experience of analysis.
There is no-one else who can tell you that you need a transformational process in your life. Only you can say when you are ready for change.
The process of a Jungian analysis offers something that affects you more than just ‘learning something interesting’. It offers the possibility of change, and a new way of being, and seeing your life.