“People talk about “finding” their lives, in reality your life is not something you find it’s something you create” (David Phillips). This is exactly what the goals are for both Humanistic/Person-Centered theory and the Jungian Psychoanalytical theory. The Humanistic/Person-Centered Therapy approach is based on the work of Carl Rogers, and Carl Jung pioneered his work in the Jungian Psychoanalytical approach. The work behind these theories focus on the basis of humanity and development, identifying where the source of clients problems are born and what it will take for the client to make change in their lives, and the importance of the therapeutic relationship.
Both theories recognize humanity as being innately positive and capable of change for the individual. This change for the individual is a vital and important role in life. Carl Rogers affirmed this when he wrote, “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” The process though, is what brings clients into our offices for therapy. By using one or both of these therapies in practice, each individual is given the benefit that they have their own answers, and they can make change happen in their lives, by moving in their personal direction. Each of these therapies through the different interventions helps these clients to be able to recognize that they have the power to change. Many clients are “stuck” in a series of emotions that debilitate their lives. They begin to believe that something is wrong with them because of this; they are not where they “should” be as compared to others they see. By being aware of the emphasis that person centered therapy places on freedom, choice, value, growth, self-actualization, spontaneity and creativity the therapist can listen to the client and help them realize their potential for change and help to motivate them to improve the quality of their lives.
This actualization process is central to person-centered therapy in that this movement is the basis of humanity and development in this approach. When people are given the support and understanding, they will innately move in a positive direction and become fully functioning. This functionality is primarily based on the individual’s self-concept, on the set of perceptions that they have developed since childhood about who they are and what they are about in their lives. This is known as the “ideal self.” The ideal self is the concept and set of ideas that the individual has about what type of person they desire to be. This is an all-inclusive awareness that considers the entire person.
With Jungian psychoanalytic therapy, the basis of concept is that mind, body, and soul are completely connected and this connectedness adds to the belief that there is a natural balance in each person. This allows for a move towards healing and wholeness. This connection is in the personal and the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious is a collection of memories and symbols given meaning that people collect through their life process that have been forgotten or repressed. The collective unconscious is where the information is used to guide the self toward individuation or self-actualization occurs. The information in the collective unconscious is hidden information, yet shared by all human beings. This collective unconscious is the information that dreams, intuition and archetypes hold. These symbols are held by all, but are shaped specifically by the individuals own experiences and interpretations, thereby creating specific and individualized understanding toward direction and wholeness. Jung believed that this drive toward wholeness was a very important part of humanity and development for every individual.
Within this developmental process is a need to be heard and understood. This need is the primary issue from which the person-centered approach believes is present and is that which causes people to seek therapy. Often, individuals are forced to grow and develop in an environment which their experience, feelings, and values are denied. This is the source of the psychological discomfort. Also contributing to this discomfort is the imposition of another person’s value and standard system on someone whom these imposed values and standards do not fit in that person’s movement toward actualization. This imposition creates a feeling of being disrespected, devalued, and misunderstood for the individual, which promotes the discomfort and creation of problems rather than solutions in life. While living in this state of problem an individual begins to lack the awareness of their “Self.” This lack of awareness of self is a major contributor to problematic living in most cases. Carl Rogers stated simply; “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” It is in the development of awareness that self that real change and movement toward authenticity can occur.
In the Jungian approach, the source of problems that prevent movement toward change and wholeness is based on the pre-oedipal relationships. The early personality development is diluted through problematic relationships with the caregiver. The psyche is unable to balance the inner realm of personality with the outer experiences and material taken in from situations. When this conflict occurs, the personality develops complexes, which are energies within the personal unconscious that present themselves as defenses against intolerabilities. These complexes prevent the personality from balancing potentially creating attitudes and beliefs that are not helpful for healthy functioning.
Aside from the negative influences, attitudes, and beliefs that influence the ability for functioning, the complexes can also provide a very important aspect required for change. This can happen in that important information may be derived from the origins of the complex, thus allowing the individual to become aware of blocks, defenses, and personality traits that had previously been problematic. Once the awareness is developed and can be nurtured, the personality and the “Self” can continue to move towards fulfillment by paying attention to continued reactions to environment. Carl Jung described this continued growth process by saying: “Everything that irritates us about others, can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” This statement is especially potent considering the motivation for change that human beings innately carry with them. This idea of looking at ourselves from the perspective of what we see in others is a difficult component of change but also one that is especially necessary in human development. The ability to recognize ourselves in others is a sign of an integrated and functional personality. This is the idea of the “Self,” which is the goal of personality development and demonstration of wholeness and fulfillment, which is central to the Jungian approach.
On the road to wholeness and fulfillment, a person must go through individuation as well. This ego task is usually done in the second half of life which means that the individual will reclaim parts of themselves which were formerly lost and/or out of reach without the basis of strong ego development.
Another component, which is central to these types of therapies, is the development of and maintenance of the therapeutic relationship. Both person-centered therapy and the Jungian psychoanalytic approach hold great value in the relationship between client and therapist, but for very different reasons. In the person-centered approach, Carl Rogers pioneered a very different interaction with the client, which is a foundational aspect of this type of treatment. That is that the therapist listens to what the client has to say and strives to understand their experience and the meaning attributed to it that causes the discomfort. This is done with the understanding on the part of the therapist that the client has their own solutions within them, and only needs to be heard, understood, and to feel a sense that they are valued in their own right. Therapeutic intervention will occur and the client will move towards actualization because they are now developing a healthy sense of being in this consistent and therapeutic relationship.
The consistency and therapeutic nature of the relationship between the therapist and the client, allows for the trust in the clients own innate human nature to develop and grow towards actualization. The actualizing tendency that is another underlying belief that person-centered therapists have about humans is the realization that each individual can and will realize their own full potential given the correct circumstances. This tendency is the movement toward greater order, complexity, and interrelatedness that humans strive for and can accomplish. The person-centered therapist is able to convey to the client that they have respect for the client’s own capacity for growth and development. The therapist responds only in an effort to understand so as not to dis-empower the client from reaching their own conclusions that will facilitate change in their lives in a direction that is more congruent with their own life values and standards.
The response of the therapist in the Jungian approach to therapy is much different, though the relationship has just as much perceived value towards inciting change in the client. Trust is also a major contributor to the therapeutic process, and nurtured in an empathic and non-judgmental manner. This approach is facilitated in 4 phases and over no specific time, as psychoanalysts believe that the personality is developed over time and in phases.
The client recounting personal history creating the first phase of therapy is known as the Confessional phase. Due to the intense nature of history in a client’s life, trust is developed and the transference relationship is born. The next phase is the elucidation phase in which the transference and symbols that the client is aware of are connected to early childhood and the origination of the clients problems are brought to the surface. Education is the next phase in which the ego tasks and persona are now examined, and insight that the client has had up to this point is now put into action. The final phase, the transformational phase, is one in which the client seeks a deeper level of awareness and insight. This is the phase in which the person reaches their full potential and individuation. An even more complex and significant event in this phase is that the individual’s transference and symbol meaning is moved from the personal to the archetypal. It is in this phase that the issue of counter transference is especially important. Carl Jung acknowledged and believed that the therapist needs to be affected by the client in order for the transformational process to occur and be complete. This shows that there is a mutual influence in therapy, as therapy is not something that is done to someone but with someone.
Therapy, no matter what its form is a powerful tool for change in an individual’s personal growth and development. Both the person-centered and psychoanalytic approach offer significantly powerful means to help a client reach their full potential and awareness. The person-centered approach places great value and emphasis on helping the client to actualize through nurturance of their own value as an individual, the therapist listens to seek to understand the meaning for the client in order to help the client develop new skills and awareness to seek change for themselves. The psychoanalytic approach places great emphasis on the part of the client’s personality and self that is largely unseen and unacknowledged prior to therapy. Great emphasis is placed on the therapeutic relationship as the transference and counter-transference that occurs allows for significant transformation of the clients personality and development, and bringing to surface those issues which had previously caused great suffering for the individual. No matter what road the individual takes, the ultimate goal is becoming the very best and most fulfilled human being. “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.” Robert Lewis Stevenson.