The Pillars of Jungian Therapy for Treating Anxiety

The Pillars of Jungian Therapy for Treating Anxiety
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The approach of Jungian therapy for the treatment of anxiety follows a central premise. Our thoughts and beliefs can become our worst enemies, especially if we resist or don’t know how to manage what worries and paralyzes us. However, getting to the root of our problems and accepting them can allow us to free ourselves from them and what they represent to us.

If there’s a word that can define Jung’s psychological approach, it’s self-realization. This is something that always differentiated Jung’s premises from Freud‘s. He believed human beings were always oriented towards one single drive: to be able to fulfill themselves as people.

“Tthe privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

-Carl Jung-

However, everyone suffers from anxiety. The reason for this always seemed clear to Jung. To him, the world doesn’t always seem like a safe place.

Our social environment, institutions, authorities, and even the flow of modernity that surrounds us doesn’t shape a favorable scenario in our eyes. Things like dissatisfaction, the feeling of not being free, and that we can’t fulfill ourselves completely are all added to that constant feeling of insecurity. External pressure divides us on the inside and, instead of assuming that internal tension, we resist in a stoic way.

Carl Jung once said something worth remembering: what you resist, persists. 

Jungian therapy allows us to unravel our unconscious.

Treating anxiety according to Jungian therapy

Jungian therapy is a specialized form of psychotherapy whose methodology differs from the ones in cognitive-behavioral or humanistic psychotherapy. In fact, universities such as the University of California, Berkeley have been training students in this approach for more than 40 years.

This psychotherapy presents some interesting pillars worth considering if you’re wondering if it’s actually effective in treating anxiety.

Anxiety is a human characteristic, but it’s important to individualize it

In order to evidence an idea, Jungian therapy talks about concepts such as archetypes and the collective unconscious. Human beings share a psychic substrate where common elements that define all of us emanate from. This means there are instincts, shadows, and drives that we all share equally (according to this theory).

  • Anxiety is like a carpet we walk on every day. It’s an emotion filled with suffering, which arises from what we previously discussed: the feeling of living in an environment that’s not always safe.
  • Now, even though all human beings have this dimension in common, there’s a fact that defines this approach which Jung clarified through analytical psychology: we’re obligated to individualize ourselves, emerge from the structure we all share, and become autonomous and independent.
  • The people who live with anxiety every day must be able to define what they feel, what they perceive and, most importantly, what they need.

Jungian therapy uses a closed methodology, a dialectical procedure where the therapist must be able to connect with the patient’s personality to favor their comfort and autonomy. They have to be an active agent of their healing process.

A boat facing buildings made of stone.

Recognition of the “shadow” or the deep roots of anxiety

Another one of this therapy’s keys to treating anxiety is finding the original cause, the root of the problem that causes psychic suffering. This means recognizing our shadow and letting the darkest side of our personality come to the surface. Likewise, it’s also essential for the therapist to identify the patient’s affective complexes (needs, obsessions, feelings of admiration).

In order to achieve this, this methodology is based on the following strategies:

  • Conversation therapy.
  • Dream interpretation.
  • Association of ideas.
  • Creative techniques.

Analyzing the unconscious, which is often loaded with troubles, voids, and neglected needs, is the key to recovery. That said, an alliance between the therapist and the patient must be established to properly work this complex psychic structure.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

-Carl Jung-

No more resistance: Acceptance in order to be free

Jungian therapy has only one purpose for treating anxiety: individualization. Favoring that psychic and emotional autonomy demands that we’re able to break resistance and stop that desire to flee towards what worries or frightens us.

According to Carl Jung, the harder we work to leave negative and jeopardizing thoughts aside, the more power they will have over us.

  • That’s why denying, opposing, or resisting something will aggravate the symptoms associated with anxiety. This will cause more nerves, more restlessness, and more agitation.
  • Furthermore, Jungian therapy will try to guide us so that we’re able to accept a very important aspect: understanding that anxiety is part of being human. This means we must accept it without resistance. Now, that doesn’t mean we should let it control us. That would make us lose our autonomy.
A pencil drawing a bridge between two mountains.

Finding a purpose

Jungian therapy is conscious of the fact that we sometimes use all of our energy to treat anxiety. The chronic despair and lack of motivation that a lot of people suffer from almost always have the same beginning: a lack of a purpose and not finding a meaning to life.

This type of therapy provides the appropriate means to help the person get a new focus in life. That way, the person will be able to construct their purpose based on their needs. This is a good way to appease anxiety and redirect it towards new personal goals.

To conclude, Jungian therapy is always at our disposal if we want to use it to treat our anxiety. It restores our emotional balance from our unconscious, our blockages, our fears, and our shadow.

“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.”

-Carl Jung-

It’s important to note that, as of today, there are many different studies that confirm and support Jungian therapy’s effectiveness. Starting a psychotherapeutic journey that favors self-knowledge and personal freedom is always positive. 

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.