Depth Psychology is the study of unconscious mental processes and motives in psychoanalytic practice. Created by Carl Jung, it is a therapeutic approach that explores the unconscious and transpersonal human experience, involving the study of dreams and archetypes. Like Gestalt and Person-Centered Therapy, Depth Psychology does not pathologize. As a strength affirming theory, it focuses on the psyche, human development, personality formation and the process of opening up to ones’ unconscious potential. Through inner and outer exploration, one explores a sense of purpose in life.
For Jung, the psyche is understood in the process of development. Maturity is the focus and Jung saw the goal of adult development as pertinent. Therapy as an exploration of dreams, fantasies and feelings, becomes the gateway to discovering unactualized parts of the psyche and bringing them into conscious awareness. It is through the imagination that the psyche expresses itself and gives access to the development of the Self. Jung developed many archetypes (a principle of the psyche) such as the Self, the Ego, the anima or animus. He brought us the concept of the ‘shadow”, which reflects the understanding of the personal unconscious.
Post-modern psychologist James Hillman takes over the work of Carl Jung in his concepts of imaginal psychology, presenting an aesthetic or poetic psychology. Pathology for Hillman is a process of “falling apart”, where the psyche experiences fragmentation. The solution is to allow emotions to manifest in their forms, through the awakening of the imagination. Hillman’s emphasis on multiplicity and diversity chooses to focus on “restoring the aesthetic dimension of life; beauty, not knowledge, is the ultimate therapeutic goal for Hillman.” (Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy, p54). Quality of life is seen as a function of the capacity of the imagination and prizes differences and variety above all. Finding a greater range of play is seen as essential to emphasizing helping individuals, with “possibilities for action are opened up” (Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy, p212) through the work of the imagination.
*Content taken from:
The Gestalt Art Experience by Janie Rhyne
Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy by Nancy Murdock
Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy by Paolo Knill/ Ellen Levine and Stephen Levine
CGJung Center online (http://www.cgjungcenter.org/clinical-services/what-is-depth-psychology/)