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Posts Tagged ‘Antioch’

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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.

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Staging the Dream

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I recently reached a milestone in my life with the completion of my bachelor’s degree. Incidentally, the occasion coincides with my 5 year “anniversary” as an analysand in Jungian psychotherapy. At my recent session, BTW (Best Therapist in the World) and I discussed the transformations that have taken place in the last five years. Most notable was that going back to school was never one of my original goals, but one that surfaced after years of inner work. Yet, my education has become the center of my existence. Everything that I do is somehow related to my academic goals and/or my future work as a psychotherapist. And my desire to do all of it is a direct result of my experience in BTW’s consulting suite.

BTW shared that she knew I was going to “perform” based on the first dream I shared in therapy many years ago. Keep in mind, that at the beginning, I knew nearly nothing about Jung or analytical psychology or what it meant to see a Jungian psychotherapist. I knew that Jung was “old school” and I think that was part of the draw. But part of that old school flavor was doing dream work, which I thought was pretty archaic at the time. BTW told me that the answers to all of our problems are located in the unconscious and a way to access that information was to pay attention to my dreams. I didn’t buy it at the time, but she seemed nice, so I kept going back. I didn’t share a dream for quite some time—at least six months. And when I did finally share a dream, I was surprised at the way she took apart the dream and put it back together again using my own words in a new and meaningful way. The dream focused on the image of a ballerina, which has been a theme in my inner work ever since.

At the time, I didn’t know (and didn’t have the ability to comprehend, if I did know) the way that the dream spotlighted a part of my personal psychology. Five years later, after completing my undergraduate degree and giving my senior symposium on the significance of dreams, I was privy to BTW’s revelation of her early insight: she knew I was going to attempt daring and complex things and I was going to succeed. Had she told me then, I would not have believed her. Just like if someone told me then that I would go back to school in order to become a psychotherapist, I would have laughed. Or that dreams would become such an important facet of my life that I would feel obligated to give my synthesis presentation on the topic. That was my frame of mind at the time—unable to grasp the bounty of growth and experience that awaited me. But one of the hallmarks of a good therapist is the ability to recognize where I find myself in stories and in my personal mythology, all of which is easier to do when I share my dreams. As a result, the therapist can hold the space for the client to grow into. And that’s exactly what BTW did for me.

After years of inner work and a rigorous academic curriculum, this past Monday I finally walked the stage at McCaw Hall to receive my diploma. As far as I know, this is the first year commencement has been held at that venue–the same place where the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs season after season. And no, the significance was not lost on me. I was very well aware of the synchronicity of receiving my degree on that stage where the ballerinas dance lithely and gracefully with strength few people will ever know. They make their moves seem easy, when years of practice and training are required beforehand. I realized this on my own, after years of studying Jung and depth psychology. And the next day, BTW told me that she knew I was going to do something great all along. She knew that I was strong and capable of doing that which seemed impossible. And my dream came true. The dream from my unconscious, my true Self, that knew it was true all along.

As I move forward toward my goal of becoming a psychotherapist, I know that these last five years in psychotherapy are as important as my next two years in graduate school. The personal therapy is where I experience the work working for me and through me. It’s where I see the example modeled for me week after week—when to move forward, when to pull back—how to be a guide on the circumambulatory spiral. The work has been difficult and visceral, but also joyous and enlightening and I wouldn’t change a single moment of it. I have learned to align my outer goals with my inner Self, and in the process I set the stage to live my dreams.

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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.

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