Carl Jung and Therapy
Carl Jung taught that the unconscious is purposeful. He saw that our dream shows us (therapist or patient), through images, how to take the next step in in our own individuation journey. He also saw that a legend or fairy tale uses similar images to similar purpose.
Jung showed that some images are true symbols, that is, the best possible representation of a mystery. Therapy helps us to develop a dialogue between the conscious mind and the unconscious: the unconscious itself remains a mystery. Such dialogue dissolves psychological blockages and thus allows the personality to renew itself.
Jung's approach to therapy works, in part, by helping us to better understand the images which the unconscious sends us. These images may appear in our relationships with others, as well as in dreams and myths.
Therapy helps us to confront unconscious contents as they are projected onto our relationships. Relationships improve as we become more conscious.
Since creativity also involves a dialogue with the unconscious, Jungian therapy is a creative process. It is thus specially attractive to creative people.
Carl Jung's Dream Interpretation in Therapy: Notes on Technique
Jungian dream interpretation stays close to the images within the dream. Jung said that Freud's free association always led to complexes but left the dream behind. In Jung's approach we associate to the dream image until we reach an affect-laden association, then we stop.
The dream is purposeful. The therapist assumes that the dream provides images or stories which compensate a one-sided conscious viewpoint.
The setting describes the overall problem. The rest of the dream should be interpreted in that context. Otherwise the therapist tends to interpret striking images out of context.
Both objective and subjective associations should be considered. If these disagree, the therapist looks for a corresponding conflict in the dreamer.
Polarities in the dream should be interpreted. Jung saw that these represent tensions in the dreamer.
The therapist should look for repetition of the same idea with different images. These help confirm the interpretation.
The therapist should look for setting, peripeteia, crisis, and lysis, as components of the dream's structure. The therapist should consider both objective- and subjective-level interpretations. In Carl Jung's approach some images are seen as metaphorical, while some are truly symbolic: the best possible representation of something mysterious.
The therapist may amplify the meaning of true symbols by comparisons with mythology.
The therapist should see the dreamer's flush, sigh, tears, relaxation, or enthusiastic agreement (Yes! That's it!), before accepting his or her interpretation.
Without that affirmation, the therapist should assume the interpretation is wrong, either in content or in timing. This is because, even if the interpretation is technically correct (and it may not be), unless the dreamer can incorporate the interpretation into his or her own consciousness, it will serve no useful purpose.