Archive for the ‘Antioch’ Category


Tomorrow is the last day of my first quarter of graduate school. The last ten weeks have been an interesting journey. The first three weeks were stressful and I began to question if I was truly cut out for grad school. Luckily, things fell into place and I felt like my old self. I was curious to see what life would be like in a clinical program devoid of depth psychology classes. I had a rough time at first. I was constantly arguing with and criticizing my textbooks. Many reading sessions involved me yelling at my book, slamming it shut, and then walking away to do something else to calm down. I swore I was going to write letters to all of the publishing companies and authors to let them know about their oversights. In retrospect, I can laugh at my frustration because it made me realize something important: Jung is my treble clef.

I have been playing piano for over 20 years. I rarely read music anymore, but when I do, I still struggle with reading the bass clef. The treble clef is easy because it’s the first one I learned. In fact, it’s probably the first one that most budding musicians learn. You know, the one where the spaces spell F-A-C-E and the lines are where Every Good Boy Does Fine. I can read the notes on a treble clef like I can read the words on this page. But the bass clef? Not so much.

The bass clef seems deceptively similar to the treble clef, but it’s not. Playing the bass line as a treble line is the recipe for a cacophonous disaster. The only way for me to navigate the fraternal twin bass clef is to transpose what I see. For instance, every note on the bass clef is three tones lower than it’s twin on the treble clef. What looks like an A is really a C, an F is really an A, and so on. In order to play properly, I have to use the treble clef that I know and love as my starting point. Every note I read on a bass clef is relative to my knowledge of the treble clef. Are you confused? (I’m hoping that I am not the only person who reads bass clef this way 😉

So what does this have to do with my graduate psychology program? Well, I am passionate about depth psychology, and, most specifically, analytical psychology, which most people call Jungian psychology. In my undergraduate program, I was very lucky to be able to take a multitude of depth psychology classes. It’s very, very rare to be able to study depth psychology in an undergrad program. As a result, I took as many depth psychology classes as I could. After all, my plan was to go on to Pacifica Graduate Institute, which is a school dedicated to depth psychological studies. But then my plans changed and I decided to stay in Seattle and do my masters degree here. The only problem was that my chosen program does not teach depth psychology. Luckily, I have a trick to help me make sense of all the new theories I am learning because I have discerned that Jung is my treble clef.

Each time I learn a new theory (and in my program it’s all family systems theory) I compare it with Jung’s ideas and see if I can find something approximate. If I can, and usually I do, then I catalog it in my mind’s eye. For example, what the object relations folks call “projective identification” is just plain ol’ “projection” as far as I’m concerned. And good and bad introjects are just the polarities of archetypes. At least, that’s how I see it. And, for now, it’s working for me.

Read Full Post »

My whole life, I’ve considered myself to be an introvert of the card-carrying-you-can-tattoo-it-on-my-forehead-it’s-never-going-to-change variety. I never questioned my introvert status. In fact, in some ways it was like a security blanket I always carried around with me. Other times, I would use it as an excuse to not pursue more social activities. I was a hard-core introvert and nothing would ever change that. Or so I thought.

I recently completed a course in developmental psychology, in which my instructor mentioned that one’s personality is set by age three. Intrigued, I asked her if traumatic experiences could affect one’s personality. She replied that trauma could change one’s displayed personality; however, if the individual underwent psychotherapy, then the original personality would be restored. I was fascinated with this bit of information, especially because at recent Jung group meetings, we had discussed the differences between introverted personalities and extroverted personalities.

Our Jungian expert and facilitator explained that introvertism and extrovertism run on a continuum. Therefore, one could be an introvert but fall on the spectrum closer to the extrovert side. And in truth, the middle is the best place to be, because in traditional Jungian parlance, one-sidedness leads to neurosis. I began to think maybe the time had come to rethink my loyalty to the introvert club, but then the facilitator said something that really piqued my interest: we feel fatigued when we go against type. As such, social activities should make me feel tired or drained of energy. And this had been true in the past; however, I realized that recent social activities made me feel energized, rather than depleted. In fact, I had been preparing to give a 45-minute senior synthesis presentation—a feat that should have filled me fear and apprehension. Instead, I was excited about the public speaking engagement and was hoping to have a large audience. Clearly, I was working against my introvert nature, but I was not feeling fatigued. I felt as though I had made a definite shift on the introvert-extrovert continuum that had placed me closer to the extrovert side.

Another example of this shift came in my decision to apply for the Couple & Family Therapy graduate program instead of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. The Jung group facilitator says that CFT is about being a “Sage on a Stage,” whereas CMHC is for those wishing to be a “Guide on the Side.” I had always planned on applying for the CMHC program because I didn’t want to deal with a bunch of people in the room. But that was my hard-core introvert doing the thinking for me. I ultimately decided to do CFT because I want to work with children, especially those surviving violent home environments. Which brings me back to what my developmental psychology professor told me in class and the way I connected it to my history with agoraphobia.

Individuals are not born with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia typically develops in one’s early 20s, or the age when people start moving away from home and becoming independent. Jung said, “The more intensively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more [the child] will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life.” Therefore, if home were a place where I was hurt as a child, then as an adult, I would perceive the world-at-large as a place where I could also be hurt. And so began the downward spiral of agoraphobia. In the same vein, what if I wasn’t always someone who avoided social situations? Many family members have told me I was always a happy, smiling child. What if my life experience turned my naturally extroverted-self into a person who displayed an introverted personality for over three decades? The math certainly adds up and while I still believe I am an introvert (and my Myers-Briggs type of INFJ would agree,) I have made a concerted effort to practice being an extrovert. After all, the way I ultimately overcame agoraphobia was to practice acting like someone who wasn’t afraid.

My senior synthesis presentation was an overwhelming success. Many people said that I looked like a natural public speaker and that I belonged leading a group. When I served jury duty last week, if selected to be on a jury, I was going to offer to be the foreman. My previous introvert-identified persona would never have dreamed of doing such things. And most importantly, these activities did not drain me of my energy. At the conclusion of my symposium, I wanted to do it all over again! For my final project for my lifespan development class, I opted to do a presentation and had a lot of fun sharing my topic with the class and enjoyed answering their questions.

I know many books and articles have come out recently to defend introverts. Certainly, being an introvert (or extrovert) is not bad or evil. But I encourage other card-carrying introverts to think about where they fall on the continuum and practice holding the opposite. When we can master holding the tension of the opposites, only then can we have wholeness.

Read Full Post »

I can’t believe I am in the final five weeks of my undergraduate program! As I prepare to present my senior synthesis project, Dreams, Alchemy & the Tree of Life, I have been singing the Anima Mundi chant by Marilyn Strong. You can listen to Marilyn’s beautiful chant below, or find more of her work at Hands of Alchemy.

Read Full Post »

In one of my classes a few weeks ago, we gathered in small groups to share our personal “heart of darkness” stories.  Each person chose words and phrases that exemplified the stories and wrote them on the board. Tonight, we were given a typed copy of those phrases and our instructor suggested that we use them to construct a poem.

I marked my copy with random dots and wrote down the words that fell closest to the marks. Here is the result:

Being strong on the outside, fear projected violence.

A tiny gift in beautiful hands finds evil, fooled by the light in a down-trapped life.

Static hurt and great care realize tenderness.

Great hurt stalks, thinking darkness is lit, as beauty struggles with deconstruction unconscious.

Read Full Post »

I am fortunate to attend a university that offers depth psychology classes at the undergrad level—it’s the reason I chose to go to Antioch. Now that I’ve been there for three quarters, I’m beginning to see the difference between being engaged in depth psychotherapy and studying the subject academically.

My very first class was Psyche in World Religions, where we studied Edinger’s Ego and Archetype in-depth. At that point, I had already had several years of Jungian psychotherapy and reading Edinger’s work was like reading about my life. Despite my personal work and reading I had done, I had never known about the role that Ego plays in Individuation. For me, this was the keystone that held everything together and made everything click and come into focus. I use Edinger’s work in almost every paper I write and his idea of the Psychic Life Cycle has become the paradigm I use to demonstrate the necessity of sin, one of my favorite subjects to explore.

Since I was absorbing and integrating everything I was learning, I assumed (remember what they say about assuming) that my fellow classmates felt the same. Some rejected Edinger’s ideas and even more seemed to be highly critical of Jung. My heart gasped at these moments—how could someone hate Jung? This is when I began to see how my personal experience was coloring my academic journey. I came into this school saying “Depth psychology? Why yes” and “Jung? You betcha.”

The defining moment was when I started our class discussion by describing the way that Edinger’s chapter on the symbolism of the number 3 helped me to analyze a dream in therapy. To me, it was perfectly natural and a practice I had engaged in for years. An argument of sorts ensued about the validity of dream analysis. It wasn’t directed at me specifically, but my story had opened this potent can of worms. For the first time, I felt that I was in foreign territory despite being ensconced in an institution that advocated the kind of theory that saved my life. And that was just in the construct of the classroom.

Most of my colleagues plan on attending graduate school after completing their BAs. The more I talked to people, the more I began to see a bias against studying depth psychology or Jungian theory. People seemed to like it and were interested in it, but it seemed to have a veil drawn across it. To study Jung would be to find yourself inadvertently in Avalon with little hope of finding your way back to Camelot. I heard my classmates say things like, “I want to study the basics before I study Jung.” Um, my fellow, esteemed colleagues, Jung IS the basics. Okay, Freud is the basics, but they were colleagues and friends (for a time, anyway.) I don’t know what they consider to be the basics, but that type of thinking is one of the reasons why one has to go to special schools in order to study analytical psychology.

Jung wasn’t just some dude smoking his pipe in his library and pulling theory from the fondue pot. He was a medical doctor and practiced psychiatry in a mental hospital for schizophrenics.  His conversations with his patients are what began his inquiry into the collective unconscious. And really, that’s the thing that gets people, the collective unconscious. It’s mysterious–you can’t see it, hold it, weigh it or measure it. As they say at my school, it’s “woo woo.”

And that brings me to the importance of experience. I don’t know if I would view anything differently from my classmates if I had never been in Jungian therapy. But I was, and that experience is what made me decide to become a therapist myself. I never had an interest in psychology. I had seen a cognitive-behavioral therapist at one time and that certainly didn’t make me more interested in the subject. The transformative experience of my work in analytical psychotherapy breathed life into my course material. I could say, “Yes, this is exactly how it happens, because that has been my experience.” My textbooks are not just words; they are my life on the pages. So to think that I would have to study psychology that is not depth psychology doesn’t resonate with me.

In my first foray into college, I majored in music—voice major and piano minor. Not being able to study depth psychology would be akin to telling my former music-major self, “No, you cannot sing or play piano. You must learn how to play violin and oboe.” But I already know how to sing and I tried to learn violin but my fingers fumble on the strings and double reeds, really? I would have been heartcrushed. And that’s how I feel about Jungian theory. I already know it—I live it and I breathe it. It’s already enmeshed in my blood and my bones. And luckily, schools exist that promote a Jungian-based education. So there I will go, and there I will thrive.

Read Full Post »

Soul Purpose

I moved from Las Vegas to Seattle about three and a half years ago.  If you asked me then what my impetus was, I would have said Love.  And that fact remains as true today as it was before, but I now realize other factors were already in motion in the grand scheme of my life.  The wheels in the water of my unconscious were turning to guide me to my destiny one trickle of awareness at a time.  I know, I know, it sounds “woo woo” and “out there” but you’ll see.
I had a great sense of direction and ambition that gave me the ability to pack up all of my belongings (including a grand piano) and arrange to have them transported 1300 miles from the desert to the rainforest of the northwest.  Once I got here, the time came to unpack my life, both literally and figuratively.  Unpacking the boxes was easy part; once everything was sorted and placed I then had to figure out me and where I fit in this new environment.  The first step was to find a job, which turned out to be rather easy.  I took a retail customer service position and almost quit on my first day.  But I stuck with it and grew to quite like it but somewhere the shadow of my potential whispered that I was meant for something else.  Enter my first office job.  A co-worker told me about an office administrator position that was available at her other job.  I applied, interviewed and was hired.  If adjusting to the retail job was a struggle, then adjusting to the office job was climbing Mt. Everest in heels and a pashmina.  Nothing in my life could have ever prepared me for the abominations I would encounter in that small rented space.  Luckily, I had already been in therapy for a year, so I had someone to help guide me through the chaos.  I hate thinking about how I let myself put up with so much negativity, but in doing so I learned how to stand up for myself and voice my opinions.  I also learned that the work I did in therapy was transformative and I wanted to become a therapist myself to help others on their journeys.
Here’s where all they “woo-woo-it’s-my-destiny-stuff” comes into play.  I didn’t’ want to become a boring run-of-the-mill cognitive behavioral therapist, but a depth psychologist.  Depth psychology is the old school model that began with Freud.  The kind in which one searches the unconscious for the repressed content that can aid in healing.  My own therapist was a Jungian and the more I learned about Jung and experienced his theories at work in my life, the more I knew that I wanted to become a Jungian.  I understand that Jung quite famously said, “I am glad I am Jung and not a Jungian” but for the purposes of this tale I will happily wear the Jungian mantle.
I didn’t realize when I moved here or when I started therapy that Seattle has a large Jungian community.  The emerald city is home to a C.G. Jung Society, the Jungian Psychotherapists Association and the North Pacific Institute for Analytical Psychology.  Seattle is also home to one of the five Antioch University campuses in the country and the only campus to offer classes in depth psychology.  That’s right.  The only one.  You can study psychology at virtually any university in the country, but depth psychology is a different matter.  If one is to study depth psychology, it is usually in graduate school.  A professor at my Antioch orientation pointed out that Antioch is the “only school that offers depth psychology classes at the undergraduate level.”  Jung might say this was synchronicity, or a meaningful coincidence.  I’ll go one further and say it was Fate.
Just to be sure, I looked at other undergrad psychology programs offered by various universities and sure enough, they did not offer depth psychology courses.  Just for fun, I looked up Jungian therapists in the Las Vegas area.  Maybe I could have stumbled upon the same path if I had stayed in the desert, but no, there wasn’t a Jungian therapist to be found.  No Jung Society and no analytical psychology training program.  When it came to depth psychology, Las Vegas was as barren as the desert on which it lay.
I began thinking about the word psychotherapy which literally means “soul healing.”  The famous indication that one is crazy is to move an index finger in a circular motion while pointing at their head.  The assumption is that “crazy” is in the head, but I believe suffering is in the heart.  The suffering causes the non-traditional behavior and if you can find the root cause of the suffering then the behavior becomes manageable or disappears all together.
I believe part of the reason for the lack of a Jungian presence in Las Vegas is because the city does not have a soul.  The city was forged on depraved behavior and that image is intact today, as we all know that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  The flashing lights of resorts beckon one to enter, promising the exotic landscape of Egypt, Paris or Rome.  The ceilings are adorned with clouds and blue skies to give the feel of being outside in vitamin D enriched sun, but the reality is a smoky and dank amid an endless cacophony of bells and sirens hearkening one to wake up from fantasy.  But the warning goes unheeded and spurs delusions of being the next to hit the big one.  The jackpot seemingly bestows self-worth onto those pulling the handle or trusting in cards, but they don’t realize that the jackpot is already inside them.  Jung spoke of a treasure buried in the field that was each individual’s task to find.
I had to move 1300 miles away to find my buried treasure.  I don’t think I could have done so otherwise, at least not in the same fashion and at a time when I needed it most.  The discovery of my Self is a gift that has no measurable value.  You could argue that the cost would be akin to the money spent on therapy.  But I would gladly pay ten times that amount if it meant the same result.  My adventure that started with love led me to my soul and my purpose.  I would be foolish to ask for anything more.

Read Full Post »

A Mandala of Me

The following is for my educational portfolio, which will have to demonstrate my proficiency in the liberal arts core competencies embodied by Antioch University:

A Mandala of Me

Mandalas are a form of art that is shared by many cultures including Tibetan monks and the indigenous people of North America. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung employed mandalas as a way to see a snapshot of the Self at the time it was created. I keep a sketchbook of personal mandalas as a way to hone my creative energy while practicing art therapy at the same time. Traditionally, a mandala (the Sanskrit word for circle) is divided into quarters and with this analogy I will describe my liberal arts competencies.

Critical and Creative Inquiry

One of the reasons I decided to finish my BA in Psychology was to ultimately get paid to do what I love in helping people find solutions. I realize that I already do that on a daily basis taking calls for a pest control company. I’m more than just an answering service in that I actually have to know how to assess a pest problem and explain to a potential client how we go about treating it and why they should choose my company. This capacity to help people is not enough for me and I want to do it on a more in-depth level, thus enter psychology. When I have downtime at work I surf the internet like anyone else would. But instead of frequenting celebrity gossip sites or hunting for recipes, I research psychological modalities, case studies and theories.

I keep three different journals: one for recording dreams, one for personal reflection and the mandala sketchbook. I also compose original songs that I sing and perform on the piano in my living room—sometimes for an audience, sometimes not. Through undergoing a personal Jungian analysis I have explored where these things come from and what they mean. Before being in therapy I would have said that the songs come from somewhere else, as though I was channeling them. But I now know that they come from me and owning that takes hubris and confidence—two things that I didn’t have for most of my life.

Self in Community

I have a history of agoraphobia and anxiety that has made it difficult to go out and be around people, therefore I’ve never volunteered at a charitable organization. However, several years ago, I did make 125 beaded bracelets for the My Stuff Bag Foundation, which provides personal duffel bags filled with toiletries, toys and blankets for children who were removed from their homes. But I certainly don’t see that as being nearly enough.

One of my goals in studying psychology is to devise and conduct studies that examine the link between obesity and child abuse. But just like I found there is meaning in music and art beyond the actual creation of it, I believe there is meaning in fat. Not just my fat but everyone’s fat. While I attempt to find that meaning I also have to come to terms with the fact that I’m an overweight woman who has to function in society. This is not always an easy task but I’ve made it my personal mission to be an advocate for myself so that I can be an advocate for others. One of the ways I have done this is by bringing the latest scientific research on obesity in the workplace to my general manager when I felt there was a bias against myself and other overweight women in my office. He and I had a private meeting to discuss my concerns, which ended with us both feeling like we had mutual understanding with no hard feelings.

Understanding the World

My ultimate goal in studying psychology is to open a private practice as a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist. Jungian psychology is different from other psychologies in that it acknowledges the Collective Unconscious. Archetypal symbols show up in dreams and creative endeavors and by understanding these images as they reveal themselves on a personal level then I will be better able to understand them on a global level. For instance, I have very little power in my work environment being the person with the least seniority among people who have been with the company for over a decade. Power is an archetypal energy that exists in my personal unconscious that I then project onto the management. Once I realized that power is projected from myself, then I could withdraw it and reclaim it for myself, like when I brought the issue of possible weight discrimination to my superiors. In turn, this view can and should be manifested in a global arena, especially when dealing with populations that are underserved.

The Journey

The final quadrant of the Mandala of Me is the journey. I am nowhere near the destination I envision through the completion of my goals. Even when I graduate Antioch I will still need to finish graduate school and pass a state exam in order to obtain licensure to practice. The time from start to finish is daunting and that’s when I focus on honoring this academic and soulful sojourn. As the platitude goes, it’s one day at a time. But it’s also one class or one professor or one reading at a time that can create the next level of awareness that transforms from the inside out.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: