What is Depth Psychology?

 

Depth psychology is concerned with the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious and includes the therapeutic practices of both psychoanalysis and analytical psychology. Depth psychology seeks to explore that which resides "below" and "beneath" the surface of things and works to understand that which resides in the unconscious of the individual—and the collective.

 

The primary difference between clinical psychology and depth psychology as described by the late James Hillman, is that clinical psychology tends to treat problems or dis-eases at the level of the symptom, whereas depth psychology seeks to get beneath the symptom to the cause.

 

Exploring the unconscious terrain and soul tending one's psyche via analytical psychology, psychoanalysis, dream tending, and shamanic practices is helpful because once the problem or dis-ease is brought to consciousness it can be recognized, treated—and hopefully—healed.

 

Depth psychology was coined by Eugen Bleuler in 1895 and is a derivative of the German term "Tiefenpsychologie."  The word psychology is derived of two root words: psyche and logos.  Psyche is Greek for “soul,” and in Latin, “animating spirit.”  Logos is a reason ordering principle connected with “word” and “knowledge.”  Therapy is derived from therapia, which is Latin for “taking care of,” and in Greek it means, “to cure.”  Depth psychology engages in therapeutic approaches concerned with accessing knowledge (logos) of the mysterious animating spirit—the deep soul (psyche).  In short, depth psychology is dedicated to caring for the soul.

 

Under the depth psychology umbrella are therapies known as "analytical psychology," and "psychoanalysis."  Psychoanalysis was developed primarily by Sigmund Freud and was the first recognized practice to involve dreamwork as a therapeutic approach.  Working with his own dreams, Freud discovered the "unconscious" of the individual; and Carl Jung—also working with his own dreams—expanded upon Freud’s work and with Sabina Spielrein's assistance, developed the theory of the "collective unconscious."

 

Both Freud and Jung recognized the value of therapies concerned with delving into the depths of the unconscious, and from their respective theories developed practices which are foundational to many therapeutic approaches used today. 

 

The field of depth psychology was forged by Eugen Bleuler, Josep Breuer, Pierre Janet, William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Sabina Spielrein (among others).

 

©2015 Ginger Swanson

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