Studies show that, at its best, depth therapy has greater and more permanent favorable results than other forms of therapy. And for good reason—it runs deep, unlike most therapies with views that only recognize the surface of life. Depth psychology is a comprehensive body of new and long-standing knowledge and ancient wisdom, about the innermost dimensions of life. Many of its methods, including dreams, Active Imagination and alchemical work will illuminate, relieve and resolve alienation, emptiness and dissatisfaction. As well as problems such as grief and trauma and the “miseries” so common today: stress, anxiety and panic, depression and insomnia.
My Depth Psychology And Depth Therapy Work
My work takes depth psychology and therapy critical steps further. For example, it integrates the important discoveries and methods of contemplative science—which pull depth psychology and depth therapy a quantum leap forward. Into the territory Jung valued so much, the deeper parts of mind, the parts he experienced directly toward the end of his life. Especially during and after his Near Death Experience. It's in the deep intuitive parts of our mind that we discover who we truly are, and what IS. Doing so, we can then drink directly from the "wellsprings of life".
Depth psychology today too often degrades into a thinking-mind conceptual and intellectual affair. But concepts and theories are of vital import only if they arise from direct experience. Otherwise they can lead us astray. For example, idealizing Jung and going over and over again his work and ideas, as well that of other depth psychologists, (Freud, Hillman, von Franz etc.) is a dead end, unless we walk it forward existentially into our own experiential self-knowledge and creativity. As Nietzsche advised us: “You repay a teacher badly by becoming merely a pupil.”
The discovery and direct experience of our mind's natural state, our true condition, is a key element in depth psychology and depth therapy's next steps. A truly healthy mind demands release from the conditioned patterns and programs that leave us stuck in an unaware false identify. A false identity who thinks it makes sense to burn the first floor of its home while having lunch on the top floor.
My depth psychology work revisions some of depth psychology and depth therapy's core ideas. By putting them on a larger canvas and then turning up the lights some. Depth psychology underestimates how deeply conditioning afflicts the human mind. A conditioned mind is a troubled mind that leaves us prone to errors in judgment about ourselves, others and "reality". This generates more projection than has been imagined. Projection is troublesome enough as an individual affair, but it's especially insidious when it grips the collective like a viral infection. Hence daily news. War, violence, greed....
Unique Vision and Mission
Unlike other forms of therapy, Depth Therapy is also an inner journey that takes you beyond your surface ego-identity and into your Self, your innermost core identity. Depth Therapy’s mission is to enable you to find your own path to freedom and self-realization. When you connect to who you truly are, you’ll be able to live with more joy, inspiration and conviction. And with fewer problems and less distress. Then you’ll be able to create a life that can be well-lived, loved and understood.
While the name “Depth Psychology” was first used at the turn of the 20th century, by Freud and Jung most notably, the real father of Depth Psychology was Plato. Plato lived 2500 years ago. He understood the need to recognize and master the unconscious forces within our mind, forces that, if left hidden and unmanaged, could limit, damage and even ruin our lives. And Plato was also aware of another level, a level within our deep mind, a level that renowned Depth Psychologist Carl Jung came to explore many centuries later. This level is the part of our deep mind, where we find the sacred dimension of life and the essential core of who we are.
Plato was a superb Depth Psychologist. He understood the difference between our surface thinking-mind and our deep intuitive-mind. Our surface mind is governed by unconscious and limiting forces that we need to discover and manage with awareness. Our deep mind is where we find archetypal reality. And the transpersonal flashes of intuitive insight and experiential wisdom, that unveil the sacred dimension of life. It’s within our deep mind that we awaken to the veiled essence of things.
Plato understood that our senses limit us to unreliable world of surface appearances. Whereas awakened mind and the eye of the soul connect us to inner life, where we find depth, meaning and wisdom.
History: Early 20th Century and Jung
Earlier 20th century Depth Psychology was associated entirely with psychoanalytic approaches to therapy, particularly of the Freudian and Jungian variety. Freud and Jung were both creative artists as well as scientists. Their artistry played a critical role in their respective views and approaches to Depth Therapy.
Jung’s work gained greater prominence in the latter part of the 20th century. Because, unlike Freud, but very much like Plato, Jung understood and experienced the power of our deep intuitive-mind to connect us to spiritual reality and inner truth. In Jung’s view, the “Self” is our deep essential identity. It lays beyond our ego and conditioned self-image-based identity. The Depth Therapy journey will move you away from this surface identity, an identity too small for “who you truly are,” and on into your deep mind and a connection with your soul. Jung’s work and his prolific writing gave rise to a particular vision of Depth Therapy, known as Jungian Analysis. Many “Jungian Institutes” emerged, institutes that even today teach and train people to become Jungian Analysts. Candidates are trained in Jung’s views, theories and methods.
While no Depth Therapist would be worthy of the name without a thorough familiarity with Jung’s work (and Freud’s), even a masterful familiarity with Jung’s ideas and methods is not enough to be a 21st century Depth Therapist. Here’s why.
Jung: A Creative Imagination Powerhouse
Jung was a creative powerhouse with an extraordinary work ethic. Unlike most academically trained professionals, he not only worked on developing theoretical knowledge, but also experiential knowledge. Jung worked on himself a lot, no less than a monk on long retreat would. But instead of following an inner path already walked on by others, Jung followed his own path, a path he found within his own deep interior. He did so by using his creative imagination. We all have our own path, but we have to find it and create it forward. And to find it we must unlock our imagination and enter our deep intuitive-mind.
Jung worked on himself tirelessly, exploring his own mind, his own psychology—with courage and breathtaking creative vision. His work is both art and science, as all meaningful psychology and therapy must be. Jung’s images and his unique ideas, came forth from direct inner life experiences. We and Jung could come upon the same experiential truths while exploring our deep intuitive-minds. But our creative imaginations would not represent them in exactly the same ways. That’s the difference between empirical facts, which at first glance look the same to all eyes, and experiential truths, which never do.
Inner Experiential Truths
Learning to do Depth Therapy is more about the changes that come from experiencing inner truths for oneself. Knowing facts and conceptual theories about Depth Therapy can be of great value, but it’s not enough. Jung’s experiential discoveries have universal value. But the names and conceptual descriptions of his discoveries, on their own, do not. Not without having the experiences that gave rise to what he has named and described. A Depth Therapist must make her or his own journey, especially today. Having a diploma from a Jungian, Freudian or other Institute reflects important education and training, but it no more makes a Depth Therapist than do academic credentials and titles
21st Century Depth Psychology and Therapy
Twenty-first century Depth Therapists must make the journey into their own psyche. They must liberate themselves from their conditioned surface identity, from the shallow waters at the surface of life. And then dive into their deep mind to find and connect to who they truly are. As they stabilize and strengthen a connection to their soul, they can then live and work from it. And help others to make their own journey. Twenty-first century Depth Therapy works with the enduring core features of Depth Psychology, including dreams, symbols, complexes, archetypal powers, the personal and collective unconscious, and Active Imagination. In addition, it incorporates new knowledge and grows its vision accordingly. Depth Psychology’s foundation is solid, fertile and dynamic enough to subsume new interdisciplinary theory and research that has true bearing on its mission.
And so 21st century Depth Therapy includes knowledge from neuroscience research, including neuroplasticity, entheogen research, mindfulness psychology, attachment psychology, cognitive psychology, mindbody science and behavioral medicine. And most significantly, it includes knowledge from the eastern meditative and contemplative sciences. Only in the last 50 years or so have we had access to streams of reliable and valid knowledge from the eastern and middle eastern wisdom traditions, such as Tibetan Buddhism and Sufiism. This knowledge is only now being understood properly and its implications for re-visioning and clarifying our grasp of the Self, creativity, spirituality and the imagination are profound.
Jung and other renowned Depth Psychologists, such as Marie Louise von Franz, for example, were very interested in eastern contemplative knowledge, but they lacked direct access to it. They picked up the scent but they couldn’t find its source. For example, Jung wrote an introduction to an early edition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but it was filled with errors and misconceptions because it’s author Walter Evanz-Wentz had unreliable knowledge.
Nevertheless, unlike most of his followers, Jung discovered the Self through experiential knowledge. The Self was quite real for him, it was not a theoretical concept. It was a living reality. In 1944, Jung had a heart attack and a classic Near-Death Experience (NDE) that transformed his life. He experienced as a living reality what his mind had only known as an idea. He described his intense emotional encounter with the Self as “,,,eternal bliss. This cannot be described; it is far too wonderful.” He stopped trusting ordinary dualistic consciousness because it was too limited. He sought a deeper mind awareness where “truth lingers on a different level.”
Access to Deep Mind Experiential Knowledge
Fortunately, reliable knowledge is now available, knowledge of our deep mind, knowledge that changes the landscape of what it means to be fully conscious and to become “who we truly are.” Even though Jung abandoned the notion, most of his followers still cling to the assumption that ego has to be the centering and determining point of consciousness. To realize that this is not always the case, we have to experience otherwise.
The psychological sciences are now beginning to re-vision their view of human consciousness, in light of findings from NDEs, contemplative practice and entheogen research. The eastern contemplative traditions use deep-mind methods that unveil an experience of Awareness and Presence that is not only separate from ego as a centering point, but that also reveal the genuine face of who we are, in our deepest essence.
Entheogen (divine revealing) research shows that some plants and molecules, such as psilocybin, peyote, LSD and DMT can trigger life-transforming spiritual experiences.
Still we need to be careful about getting caught up in the spiritual traditions born in other times and other places. That westerners tend to embrace eastern spiritual practices without skill and without facing what they don’t want to know about themselves is dead end fraught with self-deception. That’s why most, if not all, western spiritual communities based on eastern models and practices have failed to live up to their promise.
And we need to be careful about experimenting with psychedelic drugs without safe preparation and support. Taking psychedelics without proper “set and setting” can be like dancing with a hurricane.
Twenty-first century Depth Therapy incorporates the new knowledge from NDE, contemplative practice and entheogen research.
Safety and Wisdom on the Inner Journey
Trying to wax a dirty floor with spiritual practices or psychedelics alone can create a mess that’s hard to clean up. Until or unless we put our inner house in order to create a basis for a genuine awakening, we walk on thin ice with spiritual and drug bypass trips that can lead us astray, no matter how genuine the inspiration we feel.