What's it like to train as an Analyst? What is Jungian Psychology?

Updated: Sep 19, 2021

A weekly blog about my experience of training as an Analyst during the Autumn 2021 semester at ISAPZurich and which also acts as an introduction to Jungian concepts and ideas which I hope inspire you in whatever way works for you.


I am a week away from returning to studying as an analyst at the International School of Analytical Psychology [ISAP] Zurich. ISAPZURICH is based on Stampfenbachstrasse 115 in Zurich, of course. The building itself is quite old, not sure how old, but I am fairly certain it has been standing for at least 100 years! ISAP is the world's only full-time training programme in Jungian Psychology. They offer full-resident and part-resident immersion training to become a Jungian Analyst, as well as matriculated auditor paths for those looking to enrich their lives with deeper understanding and insight.


I started training at ISAP in the Autumn of 2019 after completing my master's degree in Jungian and post-Jungian Studies at the University of Essex [highly recommended course!] https://www.essex.ac.uk/courses/pg00647/1/ma-jungian-and-post-jungian-studies.

I commuted from London to Zurich to attend lectures and seminars. I figured out that I could commute from London for at least 2 or 3 semesters before I had to make the dreaded decision to move to Zurich. I must admit that I was not looking forward to moving to Zurich. My life in London was just way too comfortable. A beautiful apartment set by some reservoirs which contained a nature reserve. The apartment building has a swimming pool, gym, sauna and steam room - yes, very bourgeois. I was just a few steps away from the vibrant neighbourhoods of Islington, Hackney, Stoke Newington and Haringey. I really couldn’t see myself living in Zurich, with it’s bleak, subdued character and expensive living standards. But deep down I knew that it was my destiny to become a Jungian Analyst and that I had no choice but to train in Zurich. I’ve worked out that the Return on Investment [ROI] of training in Zurich is worth the sacrifice including my bourgeois lifestyle.


I started my second semester in February 2020 just before the global pandemic hit. Lectures and Seminars moved online so I was able to continue my studies from London. However, ISAP returned to in person lectures and seminars in the Autumn of 2020 and continued into Spring 2021. My priority was my own health and wellbeing so I decided to take a leave of absence until the global situation got better. I also lost my rights as an EU citizen due to Brexit so I was faced with having to apply for Swiss residency as a third national. My residency application was fairly straightforward and the move has been fairly good too. But I felt a sense of anxiety and even homesickness the day I arrived in Zurich. I felt like an alien in this country. London is a huge metropolis with people from all over the world, I really felt uncomfortable in such a universal, homogenous society like Switzerland. It isn't diverse at all and it feels very subdued here. I headed back to the UK nearly as quickly as I arrived for some in person work meetings and to collect more of my stuff. I also felt physically unwell so I wanted to get myself medically checked. I think it was a classic psychosomatic response to the move. I just wasn’t prepared for the shift and cultural shock. I am back in Zurich now but looking forward to another trip back to the UK for four days this week. I have secured some work with an exciting new client and I need to attend in person meetings.


The Autumn semester starts next Tuesday 14 September. Training at ISAP centres around 14 key areas:


1. Fundamentals of Analytical Psychology

2. Psychology of Dreams

3. Psychological Interpretation of Myths and Fairy Tales

4. Psychological Interpretation of Pictures

5. Ethnology & Psychology

6. Religion & Psychology

7. Association Experiment & Theory of Complexes

8. Developmental Psychology

9. Comparison of Psychodynamic Concepts

10. Psychopathology & Psychiatry

11. Individuation

12. Practical Case

13. Case Colloquia

14. Expressive Therapy


There are a number of lectures and seminars under each key area. The lectures are open to the public and some seminars too. Seminars are generally open to training analysts. The semester usually lasts under three months and we have lectures and seminars at various times of the day between Tuesday and Friday each week. There are some longer lectures or seminars on weekends. I have worked out my training schedule alongside my consulting assignments. The world is working remotely so that has helped a great deal. The idea is to attend as many lectures and seminars possible before you submit your first ‘deliverable’ of the course, a Symbol paper. I’ve decided to write my Symbol paper this semester and yes it is very long overdue but there is no rush. You can train as fast or as slow as you want, there are no hard or fast rules.


I’ll tell you a little bit about some of the lectures / seminars I have decided to attend. Under Fundamentals of Analytical Psychology, I selected Authentic Movement. This is a really interesting seminar. It takes place over three days and focused on authentic movement as a form of Active Imagination. Active Imagination is a form of thinking or fantasy thinking as Jung called in his seminal work Symbols of Transformation following his break from the Freudian psychoanalytic movement. It is a process of thinking that allows images, fantasies or symbols to emerge from a person’s unconscious mind. Some might describe it as a form of fantasy thinking but the difference is that it is not a controlled action by the individual. The process of active imagination allows for the images, symbols or fantasies to emerge spontaneously. The process can be supplemented by drawing, painting, music and even dance. Authentic Movement aims to explore the conscious-unconscious relationship through spontaneous and self-directed expression of the body in movement. I’m looking forward to this seminar, it is surely to be an eye opener!


I’ve also selected a number of lectures and seminars under Individuation. Individuation is a core Jungian concept, a process of psychological development which if successful leads to an individual becoming who they truly are. As you train as an analyst, both before and during the training, it is necessary to have analysis. I’ve clocked up over 150 hours of analysis and during that time, I have experienced individuation. It is manifested itself in incredible psychological development, I would describe it as stepping stones to a different, dare I say it higher, state of consciousness. I feel less naïve, more mature, more developed as a person, psychologically aware, balanced and more settled. I was intrigued to see a lecture entitled Individuation - Stepping Stones so I thought I would attend the lecture to find out more about the theory of individuation. The lectures go on to explore individuation and fairy tales, motifs, trauma and love.


My favourite topic in Jungian Psychology or Analytical Psychology is Personality. I was really excited to see this course listed under Developmental Psychology. My blog #JungianBitsofInformation is dedicated to exploring personality type and the workplace so this course really appeals to me. We will be exploring the different theories of personality across the discipline of psychology which is a nicely balanced way to learn more about personality theory and development.


Life as an analyst isn’t always lectures and seminars. I’ve also booked myself on an excursion to the CG Jung Museum in Kusnacht. To be honest, I have no idea what to expect from this excursion so I’ll write about the museum after my visit. But it is always nice to have a trip somewhere, meet some new people and hopefully learn something new.


The other area that fascinates me is Psychopathology and Psychiatry. I wrote a blog about my favourite film, The Silence of the Lambs , which has some really interesting insight about the typology in particular the Sensation and Feeling Function and resolution of trauma. Despite the horrific nature of the film, there is some great insight about the psyche in the Silence of the Lambs https://www.nicholastoko.com/post/the-silence-of-the-lambs. So I put my name down for the Psychopathological Assessment seminar. It is an introduction to the AMDP i.e. the manual for the assessment and documentation of psychopathology in psychiatry. The manual is used for recognising, exploring, naming, understanding and documenting psychopathological symptoms in individuals. I have a huge interest in psychopathology. In another world or another time, I would have become a psychiatrist but hey life has it’s twists and turns. I trained as a pilot then went to university to study business and ever since I have worked as a freelance management consultant, a far cry from a psychiatrist. But my training lets me indulge my interests in psychiatry so I very much look forward to this course.


Finally, the other seminar I have selected is Approaching our Dreaming Mind, Theory and Practice which falls under Psychology of Dreams. Jungian psychology focuses on the unconscious mind and its dynamics with the conscious mind. The unconscious is a psychic form of life that is not identical to the ego (awareness of ‘I’ i.e. me, or Nicholas, Nick, Nico). It is that part of us that resides in our psyche full of dreams, imagination, fantasies, memories and thoughts. Some of it is completely obscured from our conscious mind and it is this part of the psyche that Jungian psychology aims to engage. Dreams are a great way to access or engage your unconscious mind. I dream a hell of a lot and I often remember my dreams. I write them down and explore their hidden meaning with my analyst. This lecture aims to provide a theory for analysing dreams and some practical examples.


So the above gives you a flavour of what I will be studying this semester. Lectures typically last two hours and seminars can be much longer. I am really excited about being back at ISAP but I am also anxious about completing my work commitments alongside my training. I have no choice. I have to work in order to survive. The key is to have a balance and a routine which keeps me on track. A balance of training, working, physical exercise, meditation and connecting with my friends, even travelling! Switzerland has some great connections to France, Germany and Italy. I hope to explore more of the continent while I am here.


Thanks for reading my latest blog and look out for my weekly updates as the semester rolls on. I anticipate publishing my weekly blog by Friday/Saturday each week but do register on my website and be the first to hear about my latest blog or blogcast.

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