Updated: Oct 21, 2021
A 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 feeling incredibly overwhelmed with work, studying and settling into a new life in Zurich, Switzerland. After the slowing down of the UK economy during the lockdown in 2020/21 I saw my management consulting work also slow down but it picked up early in 2021 through to the summer. I now have way too much work compared to my availability to actually carry out the work. I am falling behind in my reading for my Analyst training, I have this blog and podcast to keep up to date and I am also trying to get my head round living in Switzerland. It feels overwhelming, no in fact I am overwhelmed, but I have promised myself to tick the boxes in my to do list one by one. I am mostly free this week so I intend to use the time to catch up with my outstanding consulting work and the long list of chores on my to do list.
In my last blog, I promised to focus on my experience of an Authentic Body Movement seminar as the main topic for this blog. The seminar started last Friday afternoon and lasted until Sunday afternoon. Training as a Jungian Analyst involves activities that we might consider irrational but the unconscious is often irrational if you have a totally rational conscious mind. The Psyche is like an ecosystem. It seeks balance: a balance of rational and irrational thought and energies, a balance of conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves. The dynamics of the whole Psyche is 'compensatory', if there is too much one-sidedness in the conscious or unconscious mind, rational or irrational, then the dynamics between the individual psyche and the workplace can be difficult or complementary as those unconscious or repressed parts of the Psyche are 'projected' on to the workplace resulting in individual behaviours which are in harmony or in conflict with the workplace. Bringing these two realms of the psyche, the conscious and unconscious mind, is transformative in mind, body and spirit.
The seminar was facilitated by Antonella Adorisio. Antonella is a Jungian training analyst, teacher and supervisor at CIPA [Centro Italian di Psicologia Analitica] and IAAP [International Association for Analytical Psychology]. She is a registered psychologist and psychotherapist as well as an Authentic Movement teacher, dance movement psychotherapist and art psychotherapist. Antonella has written several papers which can be found here https://cipajung.academia.edu/AntonellaAdorisio
Antonella provided a very useful reference list for further reading about Authentic Body Movement. For those of you who are regular visitors to my blog you may be aware that I have a psychological preference for Extraverted Sensation in terms of personality type. This means I am very much in touch with my own body, five senses and less ‘heady’. Up until a year or so ago, I spent a lot of time exercising and stretching my body. The Authentic Body Movement seminar actually helped me to get out of my head and back into my body. I realised just how much I missed that connection with my body but lately my mind has been on moving, studying, working without taking time out to exercise or stretch.
Chodorow, J. (1994). Dance therapy and depth psychology. The moving imagination. London & New York: Routledge.
Chodorow, J. (1997). C.G. Jung on Active Imagination, New York & London: Routledge.
Keller, T. (1979). Recollections of my encounter with Dr. Jung. Tina Keller Papers, Archives of the Wellcome Library, London.
Keller, T. (2011). The Memoir of Tina Keller-Jenny: A Lifelong Confrontation with the Psychology of C.G. Jung, edited by Wendy K. Swan and with a Foreword by Sonu Shamdasani. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books.
Pallaro, P. (Ed.). (2000). Authentic Movement. Essays by Mary Starks Whitehouse, Janet Adler and Joan Chodorow. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Pallaro, P. (Ed.). (2007). Authentic Movement: Moving the body, Moving the self, Being Moved. vol.2. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
I plan to buy some of these books and do some reading. I can see myself working as a body psychotherapist. I think it will appeal to many people. Authentic Body Movement is a form of psychoanalysis through the body. The process starts with some guided meditation, to settle the mind and to enter the right state of mind to begin the practice. A group of us, perhaps 14, were guided into a meditation by Antonella which focused on our breathing and a growing awareness of our bodies. Given we were a group, we also went through a process of building trust and confidence with each other. This is an incredibly important thing for me. Any kind of psychological analysis can bring up personal issues or stories which other participants will see or observe.
I remember attending an active imagination seminar in my first semester at ISAP which was badly handled from an ethical perspective. We were asked to do some active imagination and to share it with others but there was no building of trust or rules before we started the process with no prior instructions about how to treat each other with respect or even to promote confidentiality. A fellow student laughed at my active imagination when I was asked to describe it to the rest of the class. The analyst leading the seminar did not address the issue and I left the seminar feeling angry that such personal material could be publicly shared, mocked and without any attempt by the the analyst to address the individual’s behaviour. I made a mental note never to attend that particular analyst’s seminars if I can avoid it. So I was really pleased to see some clear rules and guidelines put into place during the Authentic Body Movement seminar before we started the practice.
The idea of Authentic Body Movement is to enter a different state of consciousness where an inner image, fantasy, dream or idea is explored through body movement. The process typically takes place in front of your analyst and within an analytic setting but in this case, it was in front of 13 other students. We created a circle and took turns to observe other students' body movements or act as a mover ourselves. We then explore the significance or meaning of the experience of the mover and the observer. It not as easy as it sounds. You have to get yourself into a state of mind where your conscious and unconscious mind can meet. At this meeting point, the contents of the unconscious begin to emerge and when they do, you start to shift away from your conscious mind and enter the unconscious. This means elaborating on a dream you may have had, an image, story, picture, fantasy and let it take you on a journey, story or narration. Sometimes past memories may come up, from childhood or adulthood. Emotions may come up too and these may be joyful or sad emotions.
The mover and observer are essentially your conscious and unconscious mind. Both realms of the psyche explore each other and meet at a point where they unite. This unification is an interesting place to be for an individual. It is often the source of creativity and energy. The idea of the practice in training is to imagine those realms interacting with each other but in the practice the unconscious is the observer and the mover is the conscious mind or vice versa. It is a representation of the dynamics between consciousness and unconscious.
I have done a lot of active imagination both personally and within analysis. I was able to explore some of those fantasies during the seminar. I certainly felt parts of myself that are typically hidden from public view. For example, I have often felt very protective of vulnerable people. I hate to see human suffering and I will often sacrifice my own well being to protect vulnerable people from others who may wish them harm. This part of me when activated can be ‘warrior-like’ so I soon found myself making defensive postures and movements. It isn’t unusual to bump into someone else doing body movements and that sudden ‘contact’ can also be explored or rejected. At times I was happy to explore my own body movements with others but at times I wanted to focus on myself without being distracted by what was going on around me. The practice is done with eyes closed so you have to be careful not to make a sudden, vigorous movements without opening your eyes first.
I certainly felt that mid-point between the conscious mind and unconscious. I have a sports injury in the lower left-hand side of my back which weakens my left leg. It is a pesky injury which I haven’t quite figured out how to heal it. I used the seminar to explore this ‘pain’ and see where it took me. I made interesting postures which were ritualistic in nature and involved symmetrical and repetitive movements. These movements are typically analysed between yourself and your analyst to understand their significance or meaning in relation to one’s life, trials and tribulations. Bringing the conscious and unconscious mind together through body movements is appealing to some people who can’t put words to how they are feeling. It allows untapped energies to emerge which can help cultivate a healthier psyche or personality. Speaking metaphorically, it is like an extinct volcano which suddenly returns to life, spewing lava from the earth’s inner core. The hot lava spills over the land, destroying what exists but in the long term it becomes fertile ground for new life. The unconscious works in similar ways. It can erupt into consciousness and can be quite destructive but equally it can also be a catalyst for personal transformation.
I have been reflecting on what Authentic Body Movement could mean for the workplace. Is there space for this kind of psychological development through the body? Of course! I would argue that a good starting point is Employee Assistance Programmes. Many organisations give their staff access to services which can assist them with personal issues and problems, financial difficulties, coaching, counselling and even psychotherapy. These services can be extended to include access to meditation services, body psychotherapy and psychotherapy. These services can be of benefit to individuals who are feeling stressed at work and as a means to help them manage their symptoms. We know that the health and wellbeing of staff is critical to business success, so it makes sense for an organisation to make space for all kinds of support services. Staff could access the service for a short or long period of time, perhaps 3 to 12 sessions in a year. Employee Assistance Programmes are completely underutilised by staff but I think initiatives such as coaching, counselling and therapy can raise awareness and understanding of the service and bring huge benefits to an organisation in terms of productivity.
Leaders and managers too can benefit from Employee Assistance Programmes. I think EAPs are a natural home for Learning and Development, an organisational activity which is becoming increasingly extinct. Leadership and management activity can be reactivated as an outsourced EAP service and thereby offering body psychotherapy as a confidential service. Leaders and managers can access the therapy and use to explore personal workplace issues and challenges and find some respite or solutions through body movement. EAPs are definitely a great vehicle or channel for organisations to offer psychotherapeutic services in a confidential and psychologically safe way.
However, research based on 5,000 employees and 85 HR leader interviews reveal that although a majority of employees have access to physical well-being and financial well-being programmes, a minority of employees actually use them [Carolina Valencia, Harvard Business Review, HBR.org/instagram post 20/10/21]. Organisations need to boost employee participation in these programmes and maximise their investment in employee well-being.
EAPs offer physical well-being, financial well-being and emotional/mental well-being services. This is absolutely fantastic but take up of these services across many organisations remains low.
Gartner's 2021 Employee Value Propostion Benchmarking Survey shows US organisations offer physical well-being programmes [80%] with an employee take up of 32%. Similarly, the survey found that 87% of organisations offer emotional/mental well-being programmes with an employee take up of 23%.
These are startingly low take up figures. How do you get employees to participate in well-being programmes? That's the million dollar question which remains unexplored. For what its worth I think there needs to be more trust and confidence developed between employers and employees. I valued and appreciated the time the leader of the Authentic Body Movement seminar took to build trust and respect between the participants. This is an important step in encouraging the individuals to participate in the process with confidence and to get the most of out of it. The low take up of employee assistance programmes is related to employee's lack of trust in those programmes. They are not seen to be 'confidential' because they are funded by the organisation and many people worry that their emotional issues will be shared with the organisation and it could affect their standing among their peers, they may lose their job or that personal information will be shared with others. It is not surprise that employees rarely engage with these well-being programmes. Like me, I decided to refrain from participating in a particular analyst's active imagination seminar because I felt the process was not handled in a respectful manner.
I am really keen to explore body psychotherapy in the future. I will continue to explore it as a way to bring greater health and wellbeing in the workplace so watch this space. I also intend to go back to exercising and stretching. It is so important to keep the mind, body and spirit in check! I left the Authentic Body Movement seminar feeling energised, active and excited. I clearly stirred up some dormant energies that needed to be reactivated and integrated back into my life.
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