Jungian Therapy: Rewriting Your Life's Script for the Better

A silhouette of a person standing in the middle of a luminous field encased in a dark tunnel.

In the vast expanse of the human psyche, Jungian depth psychology decodes patterns of consciousness, weaving the individual with the universal.

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, pioneered a form of therapeutic approach that stands distinct in the world of psychology. While he began his journey alongside Sigmund Freud, Jung's exploration took a deep dive into realms that bridged the conscious and unconscious minds.

Read on to discover Jung’s insights and how they changed our collective understanding of the human psyche.

What is the Jungian approach?

Jungian therapy, also known as analytical psychology, is an in-depth psychotherapeutic approach established by Carl Jung. At its core, Jungian psychotherapy emphasizes the integral relationship between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind.

The therapist works to facilitate a dialogue between these two realms, enabling individuals to access and integrate unconscious elements into their conscious experience.

Rooted in the idea that true mental health comes from a harmonized balance between the conscious mind and the unconscious psyche, Jungian analysis employs dream interpretation, artwork, and dialogue. Mental health professionals trained as Jungian analysts bring forth a unique lens, focusing on personal growth and self-realization as much as symptom relief.

While Jungian theory branched off from Freud's psychoanalysis, it distinctly emphasizes positive and developmental aspects of the unconscious. It is a holistic approach, looking beyond the symptoms and tapping into one's deeper self, aiming for individuation - the process of becoming the person one is inherently meant to be.

What are Jung's four major archetypes?

Within the intricate realm of Jungian psychology, the concept of archetypes holds a pivotal position. Archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas, which Jung believed shape human experiences. While myriad archetypes populate the collective unconscious, four are particularly prominent, forming the cornerstone of Jung's psychology:

  1. The Self: Often seen as the most intricate archetype, the Self embodies the unification of the conscious and unconscious realms of the mind. This is not the "self" we consciously identify with, known as the ego, but a central figure representing the totality of the psyche as a whole. Symbolically, the Self can be represented in dreams and myths as figures like Christ, Buddha, or even mandalas. Its emergence often signifies a harmonious balance between the various elements of our psyche and is the ultimate goal of individuation - the process of inner development and self-realization.
  2. The Shadow: As the counterpoint to our conscious ego, the Shadow contains traits, desires, and instincts that one's conscious mind tends to reject or remains oblivious to. It is the repository of our fears, repressed weaknesses, but also latent strengths. Although often cast as the antagonist in myths, legends, and dreams, confronting and integrating the Shadow can lead to profound personal growth. When ignored, however, it can manifest in projections, where one attributes their own negative qualities to others.
  3. The Anima/Animus: These complex archetypes represent the unconscious feminine side in males (Anima) and the unconscious masculine side in females (Animus). They encapsulate the totality of the gender experience opposite to an individual's identified gender. In men, the Anima might manifest in dreams as mysterious, often enchanting women, guiding them to deeper layers of their unconscious. In women, the Animus often appears as a masculine figure, perhaps a hero or a sage. Engaging with and understanding these archetypes can aid individuals in better understanding their relationships and their attitudes toward the opposite gender.
  4. The Persona: Derived from the Latin word for "mask," the Persona is the external face and role that an individual presents to the world. It is what we want the world to see, the role we play, influenced by societal expectations. Although crucial for societal interactions, over-identification with the Persona can be detrimental, causing one to lose touch with their authentic self. It is a necessary construct, allowing us to adapt to various social situations. However, Jung believed that to achieve true individuation, one must look beyond the Persona and dive into deeper layers of the self.

Whether through dream analysis, artistic endeavors, or deep introspection, engaging with these archetypes allows one to unravel the intricate threads that weave the conscious and unconscious realms together. Understanding these Jungian archetypes, recognizing their manifestations in one's life, and integrating their insights into conscious awareness are essential steps in the journey of personal growth and self-realization in the realm of Jungian analysis.

What are the four stages of Jungian psychotherapy?

Navigating the complex waters of the human psyche requires a structured approach. In the world of Jungian psychotherapy, this journey is not arbitrary but follows a distinct pattern. Carl Jung identified four critical stages therapists and patients journey through, each with significance and challenges. These stages, while linear, often interweave, allowing for a fluid, patient-centric approach.

  1. Confession: Often considered the foundation of the therapeutic journey, this stage is about confronting and verbalizing previously unspoken or concealed personal stories and issues. Here, the therapist works as a compassionate listener, offering a safe space for the patient to voice their traumas, fears, and desires. It is a phase of unburdening, where acknowledging one's vulnerabilities sets the foundation for deeper introspection.
  2. Elucidation: This is where the analytical side of analytical psychology comes to the forefront. At this stage, the therapist assists the patient in understanding their conscious mind, making them aware of behavioral patterns, defense mechanisms, and distortions. Unlike Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis, which often emphasizes past experiences, Jungian elucidation focuses on the present, understanding current behaviors in the context of both past experiences and future potentials.
  3. Education: Beyond understanding one's psyche, transformation is needed. This stage revolves around harnessing insights from the previous stages and translating them into actionable steps for personal growth. Mental health professionals guide patients in making sense of their dreams, daily experiences, and interactions with the world, relating them to Jungian theory, especially the concepts of archetypes and the dynamics between the conscious and unconscious realms.
  4. Transformation: The culminating phase is when profound personal changes occur. It is about reconciling with one's Shadow, integrating the lessons from the Anima or Animus, and moving towards the ultimate goal of individuation. This is where the patient begins to harmonize their personal unconscious with the collective unconscious, aligning themselves with a more holistic, authentic self. The therapist works closely to facilitate this internal alchemy and ensure genuine and lasting transformation.

Each stage of Jungian psychotherapy, while distinct, is interdependent. A seamless transition from one stage to the next ensures a comprehensive exploration of the psyche, moving from acknowledgment to understanding, application, and finally to profound personal transformation.

This journey, under the guidance of a skilled Jungian therapist, provides a pathway for individuals to embrace their true selves, reconciling the myriad facets of the psychological types of being within the vast tapestry of the collective human experience.

The takeaway

The tip of an iceberg peeking above the water, hinting at its larger hidden mass below the surface.

Underneath the surface of conscious experience lies the unimaginable depth of the unconscious.

Carl Jung's unique perspective on psychology, known as analytical psychology or the Jungian approach, emphasizes the intricate relationship between the conscious and unconscious realms of the mind. The therapy focuses on personal growth and self-realization and seeks to balance these two dimensions.

The essence of Jungian theory lies in the concept of archetypes—innate, universal prototypes for ideas that shape human experiences. Key among them are the Self, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Persona. When understood and integrated, these archetypes can guide you toward personal growth and self-realization.

The four stages of Jungian psychotherapy - Confession, Elucidation, Education, and Transformation - ensure a structured and profound exploration of the psyche, guiding individuals from acknowledging issues to profound personal change.

Here at Meridian University, we guide our students to rigorously examine the profound insights of Jungian Depth psychology. Our Psychology Program, meticulously crafted by leading experts, gives the tools to map out the intricate pathways of the human psyche.

If you are keen on exploring the enigmatic realms of the Jungian approach, we invite you to speak with an Admission Advisor to embark on this transformative journey with us.


  1. Murray, H. (2015). Jung's Map of the Soul: An Introduction. Open Court Publishing.
  2. Von Franz, M. L. & Hilman, J. (1995). Jung's Typology. Inner City Books.
  3. Hall, C. S., & Nordby, V. J. (1973). A Primer of Jungian Psychology. New York: Taplinger.
  4. Jacobi, J. (2017). Complex, Archetype, Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jung. Routledge.

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