The Goal of Psychotherapy: A Depth Psychotherapy Perspective
Before beginning case studies to improve your life, it’s good to think carefully about the goal case studies is seeking.
This post explores the goal case studies of the “depth” varieties known as analytical, archetypal or Jungian would seek. All forms of therapy have their unique strengths and perspectives. In the types of /a-midlife-transition we’re considering, the goal is more oriented toward the wholeness of the person than might be found in some other varieties of case studies.
So, what actually is it that we’re actually after in case studies? The answer to this question may well have a lot to do with what we’re really after in life…
It’s Not Just Removal of Symptoms
Most forms of case studies agree that the goal is not just removal of symptoms. Very often, what actually brings a person into therapy is a particular symptom, that causes difficulty, possibly quite a bit of difficulty, in his or her life. For instance, the person may be very angry at a significant person, such as a spouse. Or, the person may have quite a bit of depression or anxiety connected with going into their workplace. Understandably, the person is seeking to get the symptom to disappear — they just want it gone. And it happens reasonably frequently that someone will start to come to therapy, have a few sessions, and start to feel better, as the symptom becomes less intense. The person may then decide to end therapy. All too often, the symptoms then will come back, perhaps with a vengeance. The individual may then reach the conclusion that “case studies doesn’t work.”
Getting to the Deeper Issues
Is that a fair conclusion? We get symptoms most often because they reflect underlying, deeper issues. If those deeper issues aren’t dealt with, little may change in the long run.
It’s not just about “being happy.” “Happiness” might seem like a suitable goal for therapy, but, it’s a very slippery thing. It can be here one moment and gone the next, to return in a while. The goal of therapy needs to be something much more lasting.
It’s not just about the pain stopping, either. Psychological pain, when it occurs, is usually a warning signal that something is not right in our lives. To get rid of the pain, momentarily, without understanding the underlying cause, is like disconnecting the engine warning light in your car, without doing anything about the fact that the engine is dangerously low on oil.
It’s Connected to “Authenticity”, but Also a Lot More
“Authenticity” is a term used in therapy to refer to being true to oneself. Yet, to be true to oneself, one has to know the identity of that self. The same is true of the term “self-actualization”, a term originating with humanistic psychologists like Abraham Maslow. To actualize oneself, to live out one’s personal potential is a worthy goal, associated with a sense of meaning in life. Yet, to achieve it, it’s essential to be in connection with your fundamental identity.
Meaning in Life, and the Undiscovered Self
For /a-midlife-transition of an analytical, archetypal or Jungian variety, the goal case studies is seeking fundamentally involves creating a vital relationship between the conscious and the unconscious parts of the personality. It’s only as the unconscious starts to be connected to consciousness that I begin to get a more complete sense of my own identity. As that begins to happen, I may gain new kinds of awareness about aspects of myself of which I was unaware. For analytical, archetypal or Jungian depth psychotherapies, the unconscious mind is not just a repository of repressed memories, but a source of psychic energy and healing vitality, that empowers our inner urge to become the unique individual persons that we truly are. It’s on that journey that we discover our fundamental sense of meaning.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst