In the Jungian, Adlerian and Gestalt theories discuss with your peers what
In the Jungian, Adlerian and Gestalt theories discuss with your peers what you find to be the positives of the theories and techniques and any criticisms you may have. Be certain you have read over the powerpoint, both web articles found under learning resources and the required reading assignment. Must be a minimum of 500 word
Carl Gustav Jung was the best known member of the group that formed the core of the early psychoanalytic movementfollowers and students of Sigmund Freud. After completing his medical studies, Jung obtained a position at the Burghoelzli Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland.
C. G. Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was the best known member of the group that formed the core of the early psychoanalytic movementfollowers and students of Sigmund Freud. After completing his medical studies, Jung obtained a position at the Burghoelzli Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. There he worked with patients suffering from schizophrenia, while also conducting word association research. In 1904 Jung corresponded with Freud about this latter work and also began to use Freud’s psychoanalytic treatment with his patients. In 1906 Freud invited Jung to Vienna, and they began a professional relationship. Freud soon began to favor Jung as his successor in the new and growing psychoanalytic movement. Through Freud’s efforts, Jung was appointed Permanent President of the Association of Psycho-Analysis at its Second Congress in 1910. Jung and Freud held in common an understanding of the profound role of the unconscious. Their understanding of the nature of the unconscious, however, began to diverge. This led to a painful break between the two men in 1913 after Jung’s publication of a major article on the psychology of the unconscious which emphasized the role of symbolism (Jung, 1912). Freud felt personally betrayed by Jung’s departure from his theoretical views. Jung likewise felt betrayed, believing that Freud, because of his inflexibility, had failed to support this extension of their mutual work.
In the years from 1913 to 1917, when Jung was largely ostracized by the psychoanalytic community, he embarked upon a deep, extensive, (and potentially dangerous) process of self-analysis that he called a “confrontation with the unconscious” (Jung, 1961, chap. 6, pp. 170-99). Jung emerged from this personal journey with the structures in place for his theories on archetypes, complexes, the collective unconscious, and the individuation process. These theories, along with his understanding of the symbolism found in dreams and in other creative processes, formed the basis of his clinical approach, which he called analytical psychology. Throughout his long life, Jung continued to develop and broaden his theoretical framework, drawing both on his clinical practice and his study of such wide-ranging subjects as alchemy, Eastern religions, astrology, mythology, and fairy tales.
Jungian theory is very much experience driven. It is an approach which keeps one foot in the world of outer events and the other on the inner realm of fantasies, dreams, and symbols. Jung himself largely moved from human observation to theory. He constructed his concepts on the evidence derived from his clinical observations and personal experience, including an extended period of deep and intense self-analysis (see Jung, 1961). Jung drew upon an enormous variety of mythical and anthropological material to amplify and illuminate (rather than to prove) his theory. Samuels notes that awareness of this sequence is of great help in understanding Jung’s often extremely dense writings:
[Jung] begins from the human interaction in analysis or from observation of life, develops a theory which is then illustrated by comparative material or further observation. Only then could the mass of imagery and data from many sources be organised. The organisation itself then helps to understand one aspect or other of human behavior. Thus the process is circular: human material – theory – illustration – application to human behavior (1985, p. 5).
Although some of Jung’s structural terms were drawn from the Freudian psychoanalytic lexicon of the day, they are not necessarily used in the same way. (This is, of course, also true for the various neo-Freudian usages of this terminology.)
In the Freudian conceptualization, ego refers to a psychic structure which mediates between society (superego) and instinctual drives (id). Jung’s usage is in contrast to this. For Jung the ego can be understood in a much more dynamic, relative, (and fragile) way as
a complex, a feeling-toned group of representations of oneself that has both conscious and unconscious aspects and is at the same time personal and collective. Simply put, too simply perhaps, the ego is how one sees oneself, along with the conscious and unconscious feelings that accompany that view (Hopcke, 1989, p. 77).
The ego, as one complex (see below) among many, is not seen by Jungians as the goal of psychological development. As the carrier of the individual’s consciousness, it is the task of the ego to become aware of its own limitations, to see its existence as only a small island though an essential one in the much greater ocean of the personal and collective unconscious.
A major part of the ego’s task and a major goal of psychotherapy is to develop an appropriate relationship with what Jung termed the Self, the archetype of wholeness. The Self can be understood as the central organizing principle of the psyche, that fundamental and essential aspect of human personality which gives cohesion, meaning, direction, and purpose to the whole psyche.
Resting (for the most part) close to the surface of the unconscious are those personal attributes and elements of experience which have been excluded from the ego, usually because of parental and societal disapproval. These elements are known as theshadow, and they tend to be projected on less favored individuals and groups. While in general these qualities are negative ones, the shadow may also contain positive aspects which the individual has been unable to own. Typical of the latter are qualities disparaged by the individual’s family and/or peers with labels such as “unmanly,” “unfeminine,” “weak,” or “childish.”
Finally, the persona the Greek word for an actor’s mask is the face shown to others. It reveals certain selected aspects of the individual and hides others. Hopcke writes: “Jung saw the persona as a vital sector of the personality which provides the individual with a container, a protective covering for his or her inner self” (1989, p. 87). A well-developed individual may have several personae appropriate to business and social situations. The problem comes not in having a persona but in identifying with it to the neglect of the person’s inner life.
The concept of the archetypes is perhaps the most distinctive of the Jungian concepts (Jung, 1934b, 1936). It is a concept which Jungians understand as a given in human experience but which often baffles those from other psychoanalytic schools. Jung began to observe, in his work with patients’ dreams, the appearance of symbols which seemed to have little or no personal meaning for the dreamer and yet which often had great emotional charge. He observed that many of these symbols had appeared again and again throughout history in mythology, religion, fairy tales, alchemical texts, and other forms of creative expression. Jung became convinced that the source of this symbolic material was what he identified as the collective unconscious, a pool of experience accessible to all humans through history which lies below the personal unconscious. The archetypes were, for Jung, “typical modes of expression” arising from this collective layer. The archetypes are neither images nor ideas but, rather, fundamental psychic patterns common to all humans into which personal experiences are organized.
As a result of Jung’s early word association research, he came to recognize the existence of clusters of ideas, thoughts, memories, and perceptions, organized around a central affective and archetypal core. He termed these clusters “feeling-toned complexes” (Jung, 1907, par. 82). Feeling-toned complexes are the basic structural units of the psyche.
Jung saw complexes as “the living units of the psyche” (1934a, p. 191), as distinctive part personalities
each carrying a splinter consciousness of its own, a degree of intentionality, and the capability of pursuing a goal. They are like real personalities in that they contain images, feelings, and qualities, and if they engulf the ego, they determine behavior as well (Sandner and Beebe, 1995, p. 302).
In ordinary human experience, the experience of being taken over by a complex is what we point to with language such as “I was beside myself” or “I don’t know what got into me.” Jung wrote vividly of the autonomous quality of the complexes:
Reality sees to it that the peaceful cycle of egocentric ideas is constantly interrupted by ideas with a strong feeling-tone, that is, by affects. A situation threatening danger pushes aside the tranquil play of ideas and puts in their place a complex of other ideas with a very strong feeling-tone. The new complex then crowds everything else into the background. For the time being it is the most distinct because it totally inhibits all other ideas; it permits only those egocentric ideas to exist which fit its situation, and under certain conditions it can suppress to the point of complete (momentary) unconsciousness all ideas that run counter to it, however strong they may be. It now possesses the strongest attention-tone (Jung, 1919, p. 41).
Jungian psychotherapy, as it is currently practiced, covers a wide range of perspectives, ranging from a primary stress on the analysis of the archetypal material of dreams and fantasies to a major focus on the unraveling of early developmental issues, and including a strongly clinical emphasis which combines these two elements. A number of authors have attempted to classify Jungians by school (especially see Samuels, 1985), an attempt which seems only partially successful in capturing the great diversity found among Jungians, precisely because the theory is experience driven. Joseph Henderson notes that
. . . we individual practitioners have had to reformulate our therapeutic experiences when they differ from those of the master. This is to be expected since individuation . . . implies that no psychotherapist can be called Jungian without first becoming as differentiated an individual as he or she can be in response to his or her own personal analysis (1995, p. 10).
Although there are differing emphases and styles in Jungian psychotherapy, there are fundamental goals which almost all Jungians hold in common. Murray Stein summarizes these as follows:
Jungian analysis, which takes place in a dialectical relationship between analyst and analysand, has for its goal the analysand’s movement toward psychological wholeness. This transformation of the personality requires coming to terms with the unconscious, its specific structures and their dynamic relations to consciousness as these become available during the course of analysis. Transformation also depends upon the significant modification of the unconscious structures that shape and control ego-consciousness at the beginning of analysis, a change that takes place through the constellation of archetypal structures and dynamics in the interactive field between analyst and analysand (1995, p. 33).
A primary aim of Jungian psychotherapy/analysis is to establish an ongoing relationship between consciousness (ego) and the unconscious, between what is happening in the unconscious and what is taking place in day-to-day life. Jungian theory understands the psyche as containing a drive toward balance and wholeness, differentiating and incorporating the various elements of the personal unconscious and establishing access to the collective unconscious. Jung called this the process of individuation. In psychotherapy, this unconscious material gradually manifests itself symbolically in dreams, in products of active imagination, and in the transference/countertransference relationship between therapist and patient.
Given an adequate relationship, setting, and time, the client’s psyche tends toward healing itself. Whitmont writes:
Eventually the unconscious will begin to provide not only descriptions of the existing impasse but also positive suggestions for possibilities of development which could reconcile the opposing positions, showing us what avenues of development are available to us, what paths are required of us or closed to us, according to the inherent plan of the Self (1969, p. 294).
Jungians are generally reluctant to overdirect the therapeutic process, believing that the patient’s psyche rather than the therapist’s is the appropriate guide. Karen Signell speaks of the therapeutic process, from a Jungian perspective, as
respect[ing] the . . . guidance of one’s centerthe source of one’s deepest intuitions, feelings, and values (1990, p. 22).
Gestalt therapy was developed in the 1940’s by Fritz and Laura Perls and further influenced by the likes of Kurt Lewin and Kurt Goldstein (Corsini & Wedding, 2000). It was developed as a revision to psychoanalysis and focuses on an experiential and humanistic approach rather than analysis of the unconscious which was one of the main therapeutic tools at the time Gestalt therapy was employed. Gestalt therapy rejects the dualities of mind and body, body and soul, thinking and feeling, and feeling and action. According to Perls, people are not made up of separate components, this is, mind, body and soul, rather human beings function as a whole. In doing so, one defines who one is (sense of self) by choice of responses to environmental interactions (boundaries). The word “Gestalt” (of German origin) refers to a “whole, configuration, integration, pattern or form” (Patterson, 1986). The form of Gestalt therapy practiced today utilises ideas, data and interventions from multiple sources, as well as some of the original techniques known to be ‘Gestalt therapy techniques’. It is noted that Gestalt therapy has a history of being an approach which creates or borrows specific techniques that are focused on assisting the client to take the next step in their personal growth and development. KEY CONCEPTS Several key concepts underlie Gestalt therapy, many of which are similar to that of personcentred and existential therapy. However, what does differentiate Gestalt therapy from these therapies are some of the ideas added by Perls and associates as well as distinctive therapeutic techniques that will be covered further down (Seligman, 2006). The following are the key concepts of Gestalt therapy: Wholeness and Integration Wholeness refers to the whole person or the individual’s mind and body as a unit rather than as separate parts (Seligman, 2006). Integration refers to how these parts fit together and how the individual integrates into the environment. Often people who come to therapy do not have these parts fitting together in their environment, Gestalt therapy is about facilitating clients to integrate themselves as whole persons and help restore balance in their environment. Page 4 of 9 Awareness Awareness is one of the most important elements in Gestalt therapy as it is seen as a “hallmark of the healthy person and a goal of treatment” (Seligman, 2006). When individuals are “aware”, they are able to self-regulate in their environment. There are two main causes lacking awareness: y Preoccupation with one’s past, fantasies, flaws and strengths that the individual becomes unaware of the whole picture. y Low self-esteem. There are three ways people may achieve awareness through therapy: 1) Contact with the environment This is through looking, listening, touching, talking, moving, smelling, and tasting. This enables the individual to grow in his or her environment through reacting to the environment and changing. 2) Here and now This is the individual is to live in and be conscious at the present moment rather than worrying about the past or the future. 3) Responsibility This refers to the individual taking responsibility for his or her own life rather than blaming others. Energy and blocks to energy Gestalt therapists often focus on where energy is in the body, how it is used, and how it may be causing a blockage (Corey, 2005). Blocked energy is a form of resistance, for example, tension in a part of the body, not breathing deeply, or avoiding eye contact. Gestalt therapy is about finding and releasing the blockages that may be inhibiting awareness. Growth Disorders Growth disorders refer to emotional problems that are caused by people who lack awareness and do not interact with their environment completely. In doing so, people are unable to cope with the changes in their lives successfully and, instead deal with the problems in a defensive manner (Seligman, 2006). Unfinished business Unfinished business refers to people who do not finish things in their lives and is often related to people with a “growth disorder” (Seligman, 2006). People with unfinished business often resent the past and because of this are unable to focus on the here and now. One of the major goals of Gestalt therapy is to help people work through their unfinished business and bring about closure. GENERAL IDEAS ABOUT PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT Gestalt therapy deems that people cannot be considered as separate from their environment or from interpersonal relations. The individual is seen as being self-regulating and is able to motivate oneself to solve problems. Individuals are able to work towards growth and develop as their environments allow. A psychologically healthy person is someone who is self- Page 5 of 9 regulating through the changes in life and has developed a sense of “wholeness” between mind and body (Corsini & Wedding, (2000). THERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUES & METHODS OF WORKING GOALS OF THERAPY The most important goal of Gestalt therapy is that Gestalt therapists do not aim to change their clients. The therapist’s role is to assist clients in developing their own self-awareness of how they are in the present moment. This will therefore allow them to rectify issues affecting his or her life. “The therapist’s job is to invite clients into an active partnership where they can learn about themselves by adopting an experiential attitude toward life in which they try out new behaviours and notice what happens” (Perls, Hefferline and Goodman, 1954, in Corey, 2005). A focus of developing awareness is that of clients’ awareness of their own realities. In order to do this, clients must first accept responsibility for choosing their present situations. Language plays a big part in accepting responsibility. The client may attempt to use avoidance responses or project individual traits onto other people or external causes, for example “She makes me so angry”; “It’s his fault”. Both avoidance responses and projection of traits attempt to displace ownership and responsibility onto an external cause. Another goal of Gestalt therapy is that therapists should work to create an “I-thou” relationship with clients in which both the therapist and client are present in the here-andnow rather than focusing on the past or future (Seligman, 2006). Also, an understanding of the whole of the client’s experience is required by the therapist. This involves considering the client’s verbal and non-verbal communication. In fact, the nonverbal communication is seen to provide more information about the real essence of the person. Thus, an important function of the Gestalt therapist is paying attention to the client’s body language such as the client’s posture, movements, gestures, voice, and hesitations as the body language is considered to be reflective of what the client is going through at that point in time. TECHNIQUES Experiments Gestalt therapists use the technique of experiments or learning experiences with their clients. The experiments are designed for the individual and take the form of an enactment, role play, homework, or other activity which promotes the individual’s self-awareness (Seligman, 2006). An example of this technique is with a man who feels insecure in social situations. He has a work function to go to in two weeks time so the therapist gives him the experiment of starting a conversation at the function with someone he does not normally speak to. Spending time thinking about what he might say promotes self-awareness and the experiment itself gives him more confidence in social situations. Use of Language Page 6 of 9 Gestalt therapists choose language that will encourage change in the client. The following are ways that this can be accomplished (Seligman, 2006): 1) Emphasis on statements rather than questions to highlight a collaborative client-therapist relationship. 2) “What” and “How” questions (when questions are used) to keep the client in the present and promote integration. 3) “I” statements are used to promote clients ownership of feelings rather than placing blame on others. 4) The present tense is used so the focus is on the present rather than the past. 5) Encouraging responsibility for clients of their words, emotions, thoughts, and behaviours so they recognize and accept what they are feeling. Empty Chair The empty chair technique is a “method of facilitating the role-taking dialogue between the patient and others or between parts of the patient’s personality. It is generally used in a group situation” (Patterson, 1986). Two chairs are placed facing each other: one represents the patient or one aspect of the patient’s personality, and the other represents another person or the opposing part of the personality. As the patient alternates the role, he or she sits in one or the other chair. The therapist may simply observe as the dialogue progresses or may instruct the patient when to change chairs, suggest sentences to say, call the patient’s attention to what has been said, or ask the patient to repeat or exaggerate words or actions. In the process, emotions and conflicts are evoked, impasses may be brought about and resolved, and awareness and integration of polarities may develop – polarities or splits within the patient, between the patient and other persons, or between the patient’s wants and the social norms (Patterson, 1986). Topdog – Underdog A commonly utilised Gestalt technique is that of the topdog-underdog dialogue. This technique is used when the therapist notices two opposing opinions/attitudes within the client. The therapist encourages the client to distinguish between these two parts and play the role of each in a dialogue between them (Patterson, 1986). The tyrannical ‘topdog’ demands that things be a particular way whilst the ‘underdog’ plays the role of disobedient child. The individual becomes split between the two sides struggling for control. Dreams Dreams are used to bring about integration by the client. The focus of a client’s dream is not on the unconscious, rather on projections or aspects of the dreamer (Seligman, 2006). The therapist would get clients to talk about their dream/s in terms of the significance of each role in the dream and this allows clients to take responsibility for the dreams and increase awareness of their thoughts and emotions. Fantasy Fantasy is used in Gestalt therapy to increase clients’ self-awareness of their thoughts and emotions and to bring about closure to unfinished business (Seligman, 2006). Therapists use Page 7 of 9 guided imagery techniques (fantasy) to encourage clients to imagine situations such as what they would do in a certain situation or by projecting themselves into different roles. The Body as a Vehicle of Communication Gestalt therapy sees that not only are thoughts and emotions important to creating a feeling of “wholeness” for the client, the physical sensations are also important. Seligman (2006) has identified three strategies to help with focusing attention on the physical sensations: 1) Identification – Gestalt therapists should be able to recognise physical signs of their clients. For example, a client might be tapping their feet on the ground. The therapist may say “Become your leg and give it a voice?” This creates awareness of the client’s physical sensations and emotions. 2) Locating emotions in the body – Gestalt therapists may ask clients where they are experiencing the emotion in their body. For example, a client may say they are feeling nervous about something. The therapist may ask where this is coming from in the body and the response from the client may be that the feeling is butterflies in the stomach. This helps the client to bring about more awareness into sensations and their emotions. 3) Repetition and exaggeration – If there is repetition such as the example of the client tapping their feet on the ground, the therapist would get them to exaggerate the movement and talk about feelings that come up. This in turn focuses on the emotion and should help to release the blocked awareness. Confusion The technique of dealing with confusion of the client is about drawing attention to the client’s hesitation in talking about something unpleasant. The hesitation can be shown through avoidance, blanking out, verbalism and fantasy (Patterson, 1986). By drawing attention to the hesitation, it creates self-awareness for the client and allows the client to work through the issue. Confrontation In Gestalt therapy, confrontation means ‘to challenge or frustrate the client’. The client is challenged with sensitivity and empathy on the part of the therapist to face the issues important to them. It is an invaluable tool for bringing clients into clear awareness of their realities, when used appropriately. However, confrontation is not a technique that can be used with all clients. APPLICATIONS Originally Gestalt therapy was predominantly used to treat individuals who were anxious and/or depressed and who were not showing serious pathological symptoms. Although still used in the treatment of anxiety and depression, Gestalt therapy has been effective in treating clients with personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder. Gestalt therapy is also effective in counselling groups, couples, and families (Corsini & Wedding, 2000). Page 8 of 9 STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES Table 1 – Strengths and Weaknesses STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES There is empirical research to support Gestalt therapy and its techniques (Corsini & Wedding, 2000). Specifically, Gestalt therapy is equal to or greater than other therapies in treating various disorders, Gestalt therapy has a beneficial impact with personality disorders, and the effects of therapy are stable. For Gestalt therapy to be effective, the therapist must have a high level of personal development (Corey, 2005). Works with the past by making it relevant to the present (Corey, 2005). Effectiveness of the confrontive and theatrical techniques of Gestalt therapy is limited and has not been well established. Potential danger for therapists to abuse the power they have with clients (Corey, 2005). It has been considered to be a selfcentred approach which is concerned with just individual development. Lacks a strong theoretical base. Deals only with the here and now. Versatile and flexible in its approach to therapy. It has many techniques and may be applied to different therapeutic issues. Does not deal with diagnosis and testing. CONCLUSION Gestalt therapy focuses on the integration between the “whole” person and his or her environment. This therapy sees a healthy individual as being someone who has awareness in his or her life and lives in the here and now rather than focusing on the past or future. Gestalt therapy has a number of successful techniques that are applicable in therapy today and may be utilised across a broad spectrum of emotional issues.
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