Archetypal psychology is, I feel, an extension and a deepening of the narrative approach to psychology. Both approaches are quite critical of mainstream thinking about the afflictions of the mind (which are all too often seen as symptoms of psychopathology: something’s ‘sick’), both approaches widen the field of vision to include (sometimes oppressive) cultural and social settings of individuals, and both approaches differentiate between “the problem” and “the person”.
James Hillman, one of the founding fathers of this approach, summarises this widening as follows:
Psychotherapy theory turns it all on you: you are the one who is wrong. If a kid is having trouble or is discouraged, the problem is not just inside the kid; it’s also in the system, the society.
Archetypes & Imagination:Working the Soul
Archetypal psychology deepens the work of narrative practitioners by including mythology, fairy tales, and the imagination as entry points to soul, a crucial concept in this particular view of psychology. The ancient Greek word psyche (ψυχή) literally translated means breath or soul. Unfortunately, in most of our contemporary understandings of psyche, psychology and psychotherapy there is not a lot of soul left. Nearly all widely accepted psychological interventions and therapy models limit themselves to altering behaviours or adjusting “irrational beliefs”, and steer clear from any reference to our deepest inner longings. The soul is, after all, unmeasurable.
Archetypal psychology does the opposite: it sees the soul as lying at the heart of all psychology. For Thomas Moore, psychotherapy does not mean ‘to cure the soul’ but to care for the soul.
To the soul, memory is more important than planning, art more compelling than reason, and love more fulfilling than understanding.
Archetypal psychology is inspired by the works and thinking of Carl Jung, how introduced key concepts into our contemporary thinking about psychology. He first explored the archetypes, complexes, and the importance of mythology and dreams in our modern lives. I find Jung’s thinking very profound and inspiring and – where possible and relevant – try to incorporate his approach into my work.
Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble.
If the above sounds like something you might want to explore for themes in your own life, it might be worth your while to explore possibilities of individual counselling, or maybe even distance or online counselling.