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  • Individual Psychotherapy & the Spiral Path

    Many people enter individual case studies consciously or unconsciously expecting the process to be linear, rational and directly goal-oriented.

    individual case studies

    Yet, people often find, as they start to tell their stories, that the real course of their lives is not nearly as straightforward, simple or consistent as they expected.  It often seems to have much more of a spiral or multi-spiral character.

    People start to experience themselves as much more many-layered and subtle than they had initially supposed…

    Stories and Apologies

    In therapy sessions, as people talk about ordinary life, one of the commoner things that I hear them say is:  “I’m sorry that this is so convoluted”; or, “I’m sorry, I seem to have gotten way off track…”; or, even, “How did we end up talking about this?” individual case studies

    Then, very often, I try to connect what we are talking about to a theme from earlier in the session — the connection, for instance, between this week’s episode of Breaking Bad and their own father’s illness, that they hadn’t yet made consciously.  Such connections are often not just blatant, but they most often reflect the person’s inner reality. That unbelievably varied and multi-hued inner reality that we each are, which is not so easily encapsulated, explained or described.

    Irreducible Me

    We all have a story that we tell about ourselves.  But a key question is whether that story going to be the small story, or the big story. The small story is most often the one dictated by social convention. The big story might be seen as what Jung refers to as our personal myth; the deeper, more complete story, that takes in all the dimensions of who we are.

    It matters which story we accept.  Are we going to let ourselves be reduced to what others say or know about us, or are we going to accept the full truth of all that we are?

    Yet the Movement is Around a Centre

    individual case studies

    Letting in that fuller experience of ourselves can seem disruptive and chaotic.  Over time, though, the apparently random and haphazard movement in inner life shows a very different character.  As Jung tells us:

    The way to the goal seems chaotic and interminable at first, and only gradually do the signs increase that it is leading anywhere. The way is not straight but appears to go round in circles. More accurate knowledge has proved it to go in spirals: the dream-motifs always return after certain intervals to definite forms, whose characteristic it is to define a centre. And as a matter of fact the whole process revolves about a central point or some arrangement round a centre…

    ~C.G. Jung

    The Fundamental Reality of the Self

    The central point to which Jung refers is the heart of our identity, the Self.  As Jung puts it elsewhere, the self is the sum total of our psychic wholeness, or, as Professor Samuels puts it, the “archetypal image of the unity of the personality as a whole.”

    To enter into individual case studies, particularly /a-midlife-transition, is to enter into a deeper experience of the Self and its many dimensions.   As we experience this wider Self, we experience our own reality, solidity and uniqueness.


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    © 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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