Synchronicity, Intentionality, & Archetypal Meaning in Therapy

"The doctor knows — or at least he should know — that he did not choose his career by chance; and the psychotherapist in particular should clearly understand that psychic infections, however superfluous they seem to him, are in fact the predestined concomitants of his work."
- C. G. Jung, “The Psychology of the Transference” 
(1945/1954, p. 177)

         Years ago, in my early training as a therapist, I sat listening to a patient's recalling of a terrible fight between her teenage self and father on a family camping trip. Her shame and sadness was still palpable. What startled me though was that the story, in nearly every detail, captured an identical experience I had had as a teenager with my father. Aside from being shocked to hear my own story, I felt through her experience my own carefully tucked away pain and shame. The session had been taped as all sessions were for the listening of my supervisor’s review so I was able to revisit this story more than once and take in the uncanny parallels I shared with this patient. For me then, this mutuality in therapy had no clinical rationale to explain my experience or how to work with it clinically, but it set me on an exploration of how the seemingly random coming together of a patient and therapist could be meaningful and, in some sense, destined.
            In this paper I present material I gathered in my dissertation research interviews with 30 therapeutic couples that explore the process of mutuality from a Jungian perspective, this included discovering powerful parallels occurring on many levels. In the case material the many threads include the phenomenon of synchronicity, mutual archetypal dreams and images, and striking astrological parallels, that together weave a description of greater meaning occurring within the clinical relationship.
            The occurrence of synchronicities, in the form of striking biographical parallels and uncannily shared dreams and images, is increasingly recognized as playing a potent role in the clinical process. Such synchronicities can help to constellate a numinous container for healing and transformation in both therapist and patient. Yet one of the most remarkable categories of synchronicities in the clinical context comprises astrological factors — in particular, shared natal aspects, mutual connections between natal planets, interpersonally relevant transits, and significant correlations involving the chart of the first session.
            Jung’s ideas on synchronicity greatly guide and influence the way we clinically perceive synchronistic phenomena today. In his time, Jung was intrigued by the unexplained, as well by the quality of time, compelling him to study the extraordinary but widely observed phenomenon of meaningful coincidences (1950). He saw that the coincidental force and significance could not be explained as mere chance. And as well, their frequent occurrence had been a noteworthy factor in both his life and in his clinical work. Jung felt synchronicities revealed an unusual interdependence of objective events among themselves that seemed connected with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers” (Jung, 1950, xxiv). Jung understood this interdependence to be a dimension of meaning that exists as a priori in relation to human consciousness. And it was through the concept of synchronicity Jung perceived a larger sphere of meaning, which challenged the idea of causality and the foundation of the Cartesian mindset. Jung believed that synchronicities served the same clinical importance as dreams, psychological symptoms, and other manifestations of the unconscious. He saw them compensating for the conscious attitude in a move towards equilibrium, wholeness, and ultimately individuation. As Jung originally conceived of them, synchronicities could carry a sacred presence with great potential for psychological transformation (1952). Colleague and student of Jung’s, Marie Louise Von Franz (1992), explains:

When he created the concept of synchronicity, Jung laid a foundation, which might lead us to see the complementary realms of psyche and matter as one reality. Synchronistic events thus seem to point towards a unitary aspect of existence which transcends our conscious grasp and which Jung called the unus mundus. (40)

Synchronistic phenomena provided empirical evidence for Jung of the existence of a greater unity of all of life and the non-ordinary connection between synchronicity and the collective unconscious led him to consider the presence of underlying archetypes. What Jung proposed was that whenever there is a synchronistic occurrence there is also a constellating of an archetype. The experience of the synchronicity is an indication of the underlying unity of all reality–an unexpected orchestration of both psyche and nature. Jung saw archetypes as playing a crucial dynamic role in the synchronistic process. And that active and alive nature of the synchronistic dynamism is the energy that calls one to transcend one’s conscious perception of reality towards a more expansive understanding.  This synchronistic attitude builds upon the premise that the inner worlds of humankind, psyche, and the outer world, cosmos, are expressions of a deeply interwoven dynamic unity.
           To interpret a synchronistic experience properly is to support an integration of conscious and unconscious processes. Jung felt that one was required to ultimately surrender of one’s conscious attitude of knowing superiority. I believe the knowing he speaking about is the quality of immovable certainty, a place all we all can get stuck in particularly professionally–we are expected to have expertise yet to drop into the numinous space of healing within a relationship (of any kind) requires surrendering into mystery that is culturally challenging.
           As an example of this self-critical, compensatory approach toward synchronicity from Jung’s own life is a meeting he had with Henry Fierz who had come to discuss whether Jung thought a manuscript of a recently deceased scientist should be published. (Aziz, 1990). At the appointed hour of 5:00 p.m., Fierz arrived for the meeting and the discussion began–While I read I am going to ask you to listen symbolically to what is being said, for the archetypal is most visible through the language of symbols:

Jung had read the book and he thought that it should not be published, but I disagreed and was for publication. Our discussion finally got rather sharp, and Jung looked at his wristwatch, obviously thinking that he had spent enough time on the matter and that he could send me home. Looking at his watch he said: “When did you come?” I: “At five, as agreed.” Jung: “But that’s queer. My watch came back from the watchmaker this morning after a complete revision, and now I have 5:05. But you must have been here much longer. What time do you have?” I: “It’s 5:35.” Whereon Jung said: “So you have the right time, and I the wrong one. Let us discuss the thing again.” This time I could convince Jung that the book should be published. (Aziz, 1990, 86)

The importance of this synchronistic event, beyond its coincidental quality, is the meaning that Jung made of it, primarily by allowing the experience of the stopped watch to challenge and redirect his conscious attitude. He immediately recognized a paralleling of the incident—thereby bringing to his attention—what he then suspected might be a comparable stoppage and error in his own thinking about the matter at hand. Jung intuited a larger field of meaning present in the meeting between Fierz and himself by being receptive to the possibility of a significant relationship between his watch and his state of thinking. In that relational field, Jung recognized events that had apparent causal connection in the conventional sense as participating in a more subtly ordered whole, and having a larger pattern of meaning that was discernible to the prepared mind—even if that meaning challenged one’s conscious attitude (Tarnas, 2006). Jung intuited a larger field of meaning present in the meeting between Fierz and himself by being receptive to the possibility of a significant relationship between his watch and his state of thinking. It is from this perspective of synchronicity that we will view the research results and vignettes.

About the Study
            The research was done as a qualitative mixed method using case study and narrative to both embrace a sense of the clinical process and draw upon the symbolic nature of the clinical experience as it was described in the therapist interviews.

In my call for participants that was posted at a number of training institutes, online with LinkedIn and Therapy Network, and with both Pacifica Graduate Institute, and CIIS, I asked for therapists to participate who had had an unusual experience of synchronicity in the first session or early in the work. There were more than 50 volunteers of which I worked with 30. As one might expect most were theoretically oriented as depth psychotherapists, psychodynamic with Jungian orientations,with two exceptions: there was one therapist with a cognitive behavioral orientation and one psychiatrist. The 30 participants’ questionnaires were returned describing a first session in therapy with a single patient. These responses reported having an unusual hour with their patient that included what we already noted:

       1.  Feeling deeply connected in the initial session

2. Shared thoughts, images and dreams in the initial session or early in the work

3. Unexpected biographical parallels

4. Astrological correlations between the two natal charts and the first session

            Additionally, when asked if they would be interested in a 2-3 hour longer interview all answered yes. As it turned out, everyone in the study wanted to talk about their unique experience, and what it meant to them and, in a way, to process their experiences. The many personal parallels and unusual occurrences that were reported appeared to reinforce the sense of specialness in the therapy. Adding the interest of the synchronistic event in early therapy brought new light to us who reviewed the study to how we might understand and appreciate the mutual field the therapeutic couple shares, how the mutuality is present in the beginning and, in some cases, even before the first hour.
            The curiosity of the role of synchronicity within the clinical relationship is not a new one, in a 1975 research study a group of Berlin analysts focused upon the properties of synchronicity as an essential part of the therapeutic relationship. They performed the study that extended over a 2-year period, focusing initially on archetypal dreams and later expanded to thoughts and images (Dieckmann, 1975). In an effort to explore the nature of synchronicity in the clinical environment, the analysts’ own accounts of their sessions were examined alongside their patients’. The analysts noted their own inner associations and reveries alongside that of their patients’ processes with a dual notation. What was discovered was an “astonishing correspondence between the analyst’s and the patient’s chain of associations,” linking images, thoughts, and dreams that had before seemed random as if every fantasy, emotion, dream or image was found to be connected in addition to the discovered close parallels between the analyst's background and the patient's situation and problem.
            The many parallels emerged similarly in this of this study that was added to by the astrological correlations of the therapy dyad and importantly of the first session. In the first round of applying astrology to explore themes of connection I discovered that all the clinical dyads had important planetary connections between their two charts beginning with a focus on Sun and Moon connections.
            Now as a clinician, one senses the experience of connection and can identify it in a multitude of ways. There are many therapeutic moments of deep relating where the sense of being completely met and understood occurs, yet here, with the available astrological data, these experiences of connection seemed to be symbolized in detail—and illustrating a larger cosmic context. To determine these astrological connections I used standard astrological interpretations for the different planetary connections and repeatedly one could readily recognize the planets’ symbolic parallels mirroring the reported themes from therapeutic dyad’s personal and their shared experiences.
            In the questionnaire results, 28 out of the 30 participant pairs had a connection between the Sun and Sun, or Moon and Sun, or a Moon and Moon by using 0-10 degree orbs. Now this provided a generous window of connection, basically creating a ratio of one in two when considering the various major aspects between the Sun/Moon, Moon/Moon, and Sun-Sun connections. The unexpected outcome was more complex in the way in which the therapeutic pair’s individual astrology charts and aspect patterns seemed to speak symbolically to each other, by mirroring, supporting, and connecting. These connections reflected in even more detail the narrative dynamic evident in the study’s reports of the first session. The intricate and unique generative exchange between the two people was symbolized through the archetypal symbols of astrology.
            Let us begin with a vignette to take in the powerful nature of a synchronistic firstmeeting. All of the case material that will be presented have all names and locations changed for the sake of confidentiality. And those that have astrological charts will have no data noted for that reason.
            The most frequent report from the therapists interviewed was that the problem that had compelled the patient to start the therapy happened to also be a significant concern for the therapist. It was a shared issue, even if the therapist had personally worked that material and felt complete with it. It was as though the through the relationship with the new patient there was a mutual purpose for both to go deeper. From this study, it appeared that the seed of the mutuality was present at the beginning.

Elaine and Kate
            While waiting for her new patient Kate to arrive, Elaine was surprised how anxious she felt. She was worried that Kate would not arrive on time, or not show at all. As the minutes began to tick into the hour Elaine thought of her brother, Oliver. He was younger by 4 years and had begun life with several mental and emotional handicaps that made life difficult. Elaine noted how guilty she felt for even being happy and moderately successful while Oliver was now a paraplegic in an assisted care facility far away, in another state. However, Elaine’s personal reverie was interrupted by Kate’s late arrival—she had been lost but found the address. Relieved that Kate had arrived, Elaine focused on Kate, inquiring of what brought her into therapy. Kate said she wanted to really embrace her life and could not understand why when she was happy or excited she also felt bad, almost depressed. Her issues with perfectionism made life very difficult, causing eating issues, relationship problems, and a sense of never measuring up. Elaine wondered with Kate when growing up she received particular messages about perfection—adding that sometimes someone else in the home may need so much that there is no room to be imperfect. In a tearful revelation, Kate explained that her older sister suffered from achondroplasia also known as dwarfism, with many special needs, and how her whole life felt like it had always been a response to her sister’s issues. Her sister now had estranged herself from the family and was in another state, paraplegic and addicted to painkillers .
            Elaine was stunned by the parallels and how merged she felt with Kate. The synchronicity of both Elaine’s reverie and parallel hardship in the early home environment and the shared difficulty of a disabled sibling that emerged before the first meeting were striking. Elaine reflected in our interview that the therapy would seem to be stirring up material to clarify issues of early life that have inhibited the childhood and the ability to be fully in a relationship.
            Elaine reflected in our interview that the therapy had seemed to be stirring up material to clarify issues of early life that have inhibited the childhood and the ability to be fully in a relationship, and at first she thought we were only talking about Kate. She saw the merging experience of the first session and her spontaneous reverie (she hadn’t thought of her brother for years), felt to Elaine as potential for a very fluid and potentially uncontained process. In a later follow up Elaine talked more about her anxiety about this experience with Kate that she now realized had more to do with her own issues around her childhood and a split from her own disabled/broken self. She found it humbling.
            As the research material emerged it appeared that the experiences of connection seemed to provide each therapeutic couple a sense meaningful containment to explore new thoughts and perspectives as well as room where synchronicities were more likely to occur. The next vignette narrative describes a first session and a sequence of mutual synchronicities shared between the therapist and patient.

Jessica and Kristie
            When Jessica and Kristie had their first session they each felt the connection was immediate. Jessica recalls feeling that she was being called to be present for an important, difficult process for which she felt hopeful. Kristie was a successful professional and had a history of trauma that, up till now, had been a non-issue. Suddenly her past traumas of sexual abuse, and rape was beginning to intrude into her carefully structured world and she needed help. Trauma was familiar to Jessica and so were the stories of Kristie’s life. In fact, there were so many parallels that Jessica felt she was reliving her own life in Kristie’s history and felt a bit dazed after the first session and felt that their meeting held many synchronicities in their parallel histories. A few days after their first session though a synchronicity occurred that continues to move them both.
            On the morning when Kristie had scheduled an additional session, Jessica was making her way to her office when she was stopped in the road by a deer. The deer stood in the middle of the road and stared at Jessica, patiently, not moving. The deer was like “a queen of nature” to Jessica, and after a few moments the deer went to the side of the road, lowered its head, and looked at Jessica through the car window. Jessica felt deeply seen by the animal’s gaze. Less then 20 minutes later, in session, Kristie described her own experience that she feared no one but Jessica would understand: She had been on a hike the day before when she came upon a hawk in the path gazing directly up at her. Kristie said she was awe struck. After a few moments the hawk flew from the ground to a nearby tree and seemed to watch her a little more before flying off. The meaning was profound to Kristie, and to Jessica, who later disclosed her own morning experience. They each felt touched by something wilder and bigger than themselves and had a sense that their work had deep significance.
            In these examples the synchronicities carried deep meaning for each therapeutic pair. From the reports of the affective experiences and the data, it appeared that the highly active mutual field expressed itself in intrapsychic communication, frequently constellated in synchronistic fantasies, thoughts, and images that we might attribute to the Self.
            The clinical narrative is full of symbols that connect the therapist and patient to the archetypal world, a connection and understanding that can be increased with astrology. Jung was very compelled by astrology as early as 1911 that became a major focus of investigation that Jung devoted himself with considerable passion. “Astrology”, he said, “represents the sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity”(Jung, 1966, 56). In fact insights of his astrological studies influenced many of his most significant theoretical formulations, among which synchronicity and archetypal theory.
            With this in mind, the 30 cases were viewed from an astrological lens and what was discovered that while the experiences of connection seemed to be symbolized in various ways that we already have discussed the astrological symbols reflected further important themes that drew upon the concept of intentionality, beyond what had been anticipated.
            The astrological perspective brought in unexpected correlations that were complex. The thirty cases astrologically comprised three important correlations:

1.     Shared planetary aspects between the two individual charts

2.     Connections between natal planets of the two individual charts

3.     Interpersonally relevant transits, and significant correlations involving the chart of the first session.

            The astrology of the charts mirrored much of what could be discerned in the themes of the narratives and in the unusual experiences. Additionally, for the astrologically minded psychotherapist, the pair’s individual astrology charts and aspect patterns seemed to connect in various ways through the planetary archetypes. This intricate and unique generative exchange between the two people was symbolized with an uncanny precision. And when these astrological patterns of connection were compared to the chart of the first session–an event chart that is essentially a moment in time–something far more important was revealed: the time of the initial meeting also had the same astrological themes as those that were relevant in the charts of the therapist and the patient. The importance of the first session as a tableau for the future work, with the themes and narratives laying a symbolic trajectory of the work–astrology was uniquely able to identify the archetypal themes that seemed to be interweaving the clinical pair, containing the process of mutual transformation.

            The stars are like letters which inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky....Everything in the world is full of signs....All events are coordinated....All things depend on each other; as has been said, “Everything breathes together. (Plotinus, c. 268)

            To explain this in better detail I will present another vignette that will demonstrate these astrological correlations. This first one is simplified so that those who are not astrologically fluent can follow. Again, the most frequent report from the therapists interviewed was that the problem that had compelled the patient to start the therapy happened to also be a significant concern for the therapist.

Susan and Angela
            Susan’s patient, Angela chose Susan for therapy based on the photo on her therapy website. Angela explained that Susan looked like her mother which felt right but could also be bad. Taking this is, Susan noted that Angela’s feelings towards her related to her own sense of being strongly pulled into their connection by, feeling it to be a mother transference. What surprised Susan, however, was Angela’s ethical dilemma: whether she could remain married to a man she did not love–this was the reason she wanted therapy-to work out this concern. This dilemma had been one that Susan had been struggling to avoid in her own life. In Susan’s words, “My work with Angela began to work me in that very first session. I had to wake up to what was happening in my life to be there for her.”
           When we review this narrative the repeating themes are that of love, the mother, the daughter, and the connection. Astrologically, these themes would be represented by Venus symbolizing the valances of love, beauty, and the daughter, and the Moon symbolizing the mother, family, attachment and childhood.

Astrological glyphs for Susan and Angela

Astrological glyphs for Susan and Angela

Chart 1 (left) & 2 (right)

Chart 1 (left) & 2 (right)

CHART 1:  Susan and Angela’s Synastry Chart.  Susan’s chart is displayed in the inner wheel and Angela’s chart is displayed in the outer wheel. Chart created by author. Angela and Susan have very strong Moon and Venus conjunctions, quite remarkably Angela’s Moon conjuncted Susan’s Venus, and Susan’s Moon was conjuncted Angela’s Venus. A common theme of Moon/Venus aspects is “motherly love” (Ebertin, 1940/1972, 48), love of the mother, the mother’s love of the children, the mother-daughter bond, and in some cases a split in the libido between home/family and erotic love.

CHART 2:  In the initial session, the first hour for Angela and Susan, we see again the repeating theme of the Venus-Moon conjunction. This astrological mirroring of archetypal themes between the first session and the mutual relationship expresses a form of synchronicity. This complex parallel patterning that appeared in the study’s 30 cases suggest a larger intentionality at work in the relationship that was reported as a sense of destiny and the feeling of “meant to be.” This next case example demonstrates several correlations between the mutual field and first session that was felt as well to be deeply meaningful to the therapeutic pair.

Pricilla and Allen
            Priscilla felt an unexplained anxiety when Allen called for an appointment. In their brief phone conversation Allen disclosed that he had been hiding a secret fetish his entire life that had recently been discovered by his wife. He felt so much shame he didn’t know how to even talk about it. In their first session together Pricilla was more than surprised to see that Allen looked like her partner. She was also surprised to learn that his fetish was the very issue she and her partner had been fighting and frustrated by for more than 6 years! In their first session she found herself empathically identifying with Allen’s despair in a way she had not been able to with her own partner. Together, Priscilla and Allen began to make sense of the issue, and Pricilla separately began to develop a more compassionate understanding of the fetish that expanded her empathy for her partner’s struggles. She continues to feel that something numinous occurred in their meeting that has changed both of their lives.
            For Priscilla and Allen’s case narrative there are many symbols expressed beginning with Venus, Mars, and Moon representing the relational connection for Priscilla and Allen. The Sun, is about the energy and the basic quality of being and self identification (Hand, 1981), and the integration function of the psyche (Hamaker-Zondag, 1996). Mercury symbolizes the ability to communicate, express thought, and ideas (Hand, 1981). Uranus, as a transit upon Allen and Priscilla’s synastry chart carries the symbol of surprise, change, and the unexpected, and the awakening out of an old pattern into a new understanding (Hand, 1981). Lastly, Pluto is the archetype of transformation and of nature in its most intense forms (Hand, 1981). Pluto as a transit for this pair, is the archetype of transformation (Hand, 1981), the death and rebirth process, the primal energy and sexuality (Greene, 2003; Hamaker-Zondag, 1996).

Chart 3 (left) & 4 (right)

Chart 3 (left) & 4 (right)

CHART 3:  Pricilla and Allen’s Synastry Chart. Pricilla’s chart is displayed in the inner wheel and Allen’s chart is displayed in the outer wheel.

           Priscilla’s natal Sun/Moon sextile trines and sextiles Allen’s Moon where both would experience a great deal of containment and sense of support in a deep therapeutic union. They also each have a strong Sun to Mercury compatibility with one another allowing them to bring mental (Mercury) clarity (Sun), and articulation to an area of life previously hidden in the dark, in shame (Pluto). Their two charts each have a Sun-Pluto square, a mirroring of an aspect, that would be the shared experience of the intense (Pluto) task of being themselves (Sun), the potential (Sun) for a secret hidden nature (Pluto) that is typically difficult to bring forth in relationships.
           Together Priscilla and Allen have a good deal of chemistry here as well. Priscilla’s Sun conjoins Allen’s Venus, and Priscilla’s Venus conjoins Allen’s Mars.

CHART 4:   In their first session the transiting Sun-Mercury conjunction reflects the same configuration in their synastry, and the transiting Sun-Mercury trines into Pluto. This configuration aspects with with Priscilla’s Moon/Sun-great for shining an articulate light into the depths. Also at the time of their first meeting is a Jupiter-Moon conjunction that sits in the 7th house of relationship. One could not ask for a better blessing on the connection that is being made for therapy. Additionally in this initial session chart is the Uranus Pluto square of our current time and is active for Priscilla and Allen as a liberating (Uranus) the fetish out of the closet (Pluto), like Freud who brought the Id to light in his publication of Interpretation of Dreams (1899), was during the Uranus Pluto opposition.
            In all 30 cases studied the experiences of connection seemed to provide each therapeutic couple a sense meaningful containment to explore new thoughts and perspectives as well as room where synchronicities were more likely to occur. In all of the cases, the archetypal theme unique to each therapeutic couple was revealed astrologically. It appeared as though the moment of the first session represented something significant to that particular pair in many different ways: it seemed that each therapeutic couple had come together to work their particular shared problem at a time that was aligned to highlight and illuminate the fundamental issues of their therapy. In the study all the therapists spoke of this felt sense of a shared process promoting a sense of specialness in the connection that nearly all described as something like destiny.
            Beyond the astrology, beyond synchronicity, there was a greater telos to the therapeutic container that in the deeper interviews became quite emotionally moving. The therapist found depths of self understanding through the therapeutic parallels that seemed to awaken new many perspectives.  This finding was similar to the Dieckmann study, where Dieckmann stated, “ the material that emerged was very emotionally moving the the researchers, as it demonstrated to them the Self in action” (Dieckmann, 1975).
            This evidence suggests that the Jungian concept of individuation, becoming the self one is meant to be, can be extended to the therapy relationship itself. The many patterns of connection that we have been discussing here, (biographical parallels, the astrology of synchronicity and the first session, and the synchronistic dreams, images, and events) all point towards a larger intentionality supporting the individuation processes influencing both in the healing couple through the mutually constellated field.
            This material with the clarity provided by the astrology suggests that a larger, living matrix of meaning and purpose encompasses and supports not only the separate individuals but also the healing relationship. And we might wish to extend this to include the importance of all relationships. With every person we encounter we create a field—perhaps some are smaller fields and some larger fields, but in any case, we are, through our ability to connect and relate we create a healing potential.




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Yvonne Smith Klitsner PhD, MFT

Yvonne is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice and is an advanced analytic candidate at the Jung Institute of San Francisco. She has practiced astrology since 1973, guided by the work of Liz Greene, Dane Rudhyar, Stephen Arroyo, and Rob Hand. In her full-time practice, she provides therapy and consultation for adults, couples, and adolescents, and has developed an integration of depth psychology with astrology. Her dissertation from Pacifica Graduate Institute, titled “Destined Meetings: Synchronicity, Intentionality, and Archetypal Meaning in the Initial Therapy Session.” Yvonne has taught for The Community Institute for Psychotherapy, lectured for the astrology study group of CIIS, Coniunctio, and presented at the Synchronicity: Matter & Psyche Symposium and the 2014 ISAR conference.

From: Klitsner, YS. Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, November 201
Vol 9, Issue 4.

The Dreaming Self

Dreams bring rich experiences of wonder and discovery, and occasionally frightening encounters, that plunge one into one's dark interior. According to scientific observations, dreams ebb and flow through the night with the REM cycle and are thought to be the processing of remnants from daytime experiences. However, in depth psychotherapy, dreams are viewed as a powerful resource for therapy. Dreams can provide a vivid depiction of your inner process and, like a map of your interior, help us understand your evolving response to your life situation. Many therapists feel that dreams impart a form of personalized insight as well as foresight, and can act as a communication as if from an inner guide. Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, described dreams as the “royal road to the unconscious”, and saw dreams as a repository of repressed wishes and desires. Jung believed dreams to be a window to one’s unconscious and felt dreams could help the waking self move towards wholeness and healing.

Over the last hundred years of therapy, there have developed numerous ways to interpret a dream. Many dreams contain certain common themes with which we all can resonate. An example of a frequently reported dream is of being in front of a group naked, or wearing only underwear. Another is dreaming that you have come to a class and discovered there is a surprise exam, or you are late for an important appointment. These types of dreams reflect concerns about self-presentation and performance, and may be related to anxieties about self-esteem and ability.

In my work with my clients, I explore dreams with a focus on the details and what they remind one of, noting associations and parallels to one’s present life. As with works of art, myth, and sacred texts, dreams contain symbols, the language of the unconscious psyche. Dream symbols can become keys, unlocking profound new understandings of one’s present life—often centering upon emotionally difficult areas that we cannot access in other ways. Recurring dreams or a series of dreams with a repeating theme can be an expression of your inner self trying in different ways to communicate with your conscious self. Sometimes a dream has an old friend or a deceased loved one carrying a message. Do you have a dream that you have been wondering about that you would like to understand better? I work with people one on one to help them gain insight into the symbols of their dreams, and to understand and relate to the deeper qualities within themselves. This connecting of your inner self to your outer self helps all areas of your life. The more access you have to all of yourself, much of which may be unconscious, the more resources you have to draw upon and more skillfully create your life.



© Yvonne Smith Klitsner 2014