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  • Jungian Psychotherapy with Older Adults : 6 Lessons Learned


    Psychotherapy with older adults raises many unique issues.  Jungian case studies actually developed first as a form of case studies with older adults, and embodies very important learnings about the second half of life.


    • Simple but True: It’s Different When You’re Older

    Living is simply not the same in the 40s, 50s and 60s as it was in earlier stages of life.  Often changes are starting to occur as children are getting older.  The priorities that have governed peoples’ lives in the first part of their adulthood are shifting — often substantially and permanently.  The things people need to find meaningful life at this stage are fundamentally different than the concerns of people in their 20s.

    • You Know You Don’t Have All the Answers

    By mid life, many people are acutely aware of many unanswered questions in life, which are not going to be easily answered.  They realize they aren’t going  to “figure it all out” in a neat and tidy way.  They need orientation and solid grounding to help deal with the mysteries of life.

    • What You Decide Counts

    Individuals at this stage also realize that decisions and directions taken on the journey now really count.  In an earlier stage it might be possible to make and revise key decisions.  This gets less and less easy as life goes on.  What we decide is fateful.  It’s essential to make the right choices for ourselves.

    • Letting Go of the Superficial

    This is linked with identifying and staying with the things that really matter to us.  Much in later life can feel distracting and irrelevant, with not enough time for the things of greatest value.  It’s important to focus in on what really matters to ourselves personally.

    • The Undiscovered Self

    But to know what really matters to us requires that we know who we are.  Our perception of who we are may very well start to change as we move through middle into later life.  It’s essential that we connect with our hitherto undiscovered self, if we wish to have the feeling of being grounded in our lives.

    • Finding What’s Individually Yours

    All of this points to a deep need to be aware of who we uniquely are.  As we face the challenges of the second half of life, we need to be grounded in that identity.  Jungian case studies is especially well-equipped to enable that journey.

    What are your key learnings and questions as you move through the second half of your life?  I’d love to hear.


    PHOTO:  © Yuri Arcurs |
    © 2011 Brian Collinson
    2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga )
    1. Kelly Thompson
      May 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm -

      I find this stage of life uniquely challenging. Add to the challenge the current astrological transits and it’s more of a crucible than a stage! I try to keep my sense of humor. I’m intrigued by how lonely it seems and how little it seems to be reflected externally. Our youth culture certainly pervades.

      1. Brian C
        May 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, Kelly. I think that many people share your view that this is a particularly challenging stage of life, especially given our culture’s extremely strong bias toward youth and youthfulness. It is lonely for many, I think, because they find so little in our society that echoes their concerns. I think that people in their 40s through 60s need to pay particular attention to the unique concerns of this phase of life, and to make connections with others who share these concerns. Contrary to what a highly youth-oriented culture would tell us, it is vital for us to pay attention to the age appropriate concerns that we experience in this phase of life.

    2. John Amenta

      John Amenta

      May 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm -

      I am grateful for the Internet and computers in general. I am not totally isolated as perhaps I might have been in a less technological age. I am also grateful that much of what I have enjoyed in life – books, films, and long walks in nature don’t have as a pre-requisite “youth”.

      There is however, the weight of losses. Of things that will never come back – and of course the weight of approaching the natural end of my life – (or unnatural however the case may be). And yet I have found strength in CG Jung’s writings and others such as Campbell or Jaffe, Hannah or other Jungians – of the potential that we are not just a product of the brain – despite what Hawkings and other scientists might insist is the case today.

      A certain calm also finally sets in when you accept life for what it is – perhaps as you did in early youth – the outer persona no longer matters so much –

      1. Brian C
        May 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm -

        Thank you for your comments, John. I think that you highlight some of the contrasts in our process of growing older. There are things in life that are incredibly sweet, and made more poignant by the awareness that we will not always be able to enjoy the good things of this life. This continues to be true. At the same time there are many experiences and things in life that growing older means that we must release and say good bye to. It brings us to the fundamental and important question of what lasts in our lives.

    3. KA Tetrault

      KA Tetrault

      May 1, 2015 at 12:28 am -

      Thank you for this article Brian! What I have found most helpful is realizing that, indeed, my days are numbered. This affects everything. That in itself is very meaningful for me. Choices now are made in light of my age. What can I do now that I hopefully be able to engage in further down the road? I’m choosing “keeper’s”. I can walk now and hopefully for the remainder of my life. exercise choice – check! Doing things that feed my soul and not my pocketbook, on a limited income of retirement has taught me to say “no” in a way I am comfortable with. “in this moment, I will say no to that, thank you” ( go somewhere, spend time with people or activities. etc.) My “yes’s” are VERY “yes” and this process keeps evolving. Sometimes, with a sense of humor I say, I don’t have time -( to do, say, be whatever) because,” i’m going to be dead soon”. The aging process has slowed me down and that yields better decisions for my marriage, self, friends, Love the freedom of exploring more deeply, because the past is gone and all my creativity is for now and how I can incorporate it into my limited future. I also wear all the high heels possible because I know that there will be a time that will most likely be unavailable to me. Little things and big things. Carefulness has taken on a new meaning and value in dealing with life. There is more peace and fun as well. I can sleep in and remember my dreams every night and have time to “look” at them. Thanks again, I find your writing very helpful! Sincerely, K

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