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

Updated: Jan 18

A blog about my experiences of training as an Analyst 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.

Welcome to my first blog of 2022. I hope you had a great festive break and a very happy new year. Another year is upon us and I don't know about you but I have a lot on my plate. One of the biggest challenge I face this year is to discover, find or develop a better balance between my training as an Analyst and work commitments as a freelance organisational effectiveness consultant. As I sit here in a Starbucks cafe on another quiet Sunday morning in Zurich, typing up my blog, I am still wondering how best to achieve that. It is a perennial thought which shows no end in sight. It is clearly of importance, or even obsession, to me. Who knows, maybe time will tell. My mind questions whether I made the right decision to move to Zurich and to study Jungian psychology full-time. Well, the training isn’t exactly full time. ISAPZurich semesters run from September to early December and from early March to late May, two semesters a year which is best described as 'immersive' rather than full-time.

For as long as I can remember and throughout my career, I've been inundated with consulting opportunities. In fact, it doesn’t take much for work to land on my lap. I rarely seek out work. Work seems to find me. Just before Christmas I secured some more work through a UK based company. I work freelance which also means my pipeline of work, at least 30% of it, comes from associate consultancy opportunities which means through consulting companies who commission their client work directly with me. I receive a cut of their fees and for all intents and purposes, I may appear to work for the client but actually I don’t have an employment contract with them. This working arrangement gives me the flexibility I need and the freedom to live the life I want. The work is very interesting, challenging and creative ranging from workplace investigations, HR consulting, auditing workplace cultures, leadership development and individual coaching.

The client taking up a significant amount of my time at the moment is a UK organisation who are looking to develop a workforce planning strategy and framework. This is a huge and exciting piece of work which requires me to think strategically and do a lot of research. I face the same demands from my training. There is a plenty of reading and research to be done as you train as an Analyst. I have now completed three semesters of training and feel ready to take my exams. But I need to write a Symbol paper first which I plan to do this Spring semester. The schedule for the Spring semester is now available on the ISAPZurich website. I’ve paid my semester fees and set out the seminars and lectures that I would like to attend. My plan is to take the lectures and seminars which maximise my learning towards the exams. I also plan to prioritise my time towards my Symbol paper and not completely immerse myself in classes without giving much time to my paper or consulting work.

I mentioned in previous blogs that I realised last semester that I want a much better balance to my personal life, professional and training demands. It's like a triad of commitments which seem a bit chaotic at the moment with no sense or reason to what I do and how I do it. Don't get me wrong, I love training as an Analyst but I don’t want that to come at the expense of my personal and professional life. This means limiting my engagement as a training Analyst to classes and activities which add value to my personal, professional and training realm. I also want to spend more time travelling to the places that I love and enjoy, Washington DC, Istanbul and possibly Kenya or Tanzania, Nairobi, Mombasa or Dar es Salaam. I feel ready to explore the Middle East and African continent for more consulting and coaching opportunities. The spring semester schedule is quite good this time around. There are lots of interesting lectures and seminars to choose from. As I’m preparing

for exams, the seminars are of particular interest to me.

I’ve chosen to attend an experiential seminar on Psychological Types and Individuation which will be taught by James G Johnston. I was trained myself by James on his psychological type instrument, Gifts Compass Inventory [GCI] which I offer as part of my coaching services. It was an insightful course run over a number of months. I started the training when the pandemic hit so it was held online. Given the UK was under lockdown at the time, it gave me a much needed focus on something because it was not possible to go out apart from exercising. James stays true to the theory of psychological types as Jung saw them. James and I have since gone on to collaborate together to promote the GCI in schools and in particular parts of the world. I’ve chosen to promote it in Africa and I’m in the process of engaging some international schools in Uganda to gauge their interest in using the GCI to help students with career counselling and better understanding themselves. It is an exciting opportunity and I’m equally excited to attend James’s seminar at ISAP.

In preparation for the exams, I’ve also chosen to attend a seminar called The Psychology of Dreams in Theory and Practice. In this seminar we will learn the difference between compensatory and non-compensatory dreams; the value of dream series and recurring dreams; the meaning of initial dreams; and how to interpret dreams subjectively and objectively; constructively (synthetic) and reductively (analytic). Dream analysis remains a bug bear of mine given its proximity to my inferior function, introverted intuition, but it is an important practice of Jungian analysis so I really need to get to grips with it. I do remember most of my dreams and I record it in my daily/weekly journal. The material in my dreams is poured over during my weekly analysis sessions. I’m not the smartest cookie in the jar when it comes to dream analysis but I’ve definitely benefited, personally and psychologically, from regular reflection on the content of my dreams and the events going on in my life.

The other aspect of my training which I’m not 100% keen on is Fairy Tales. Fairy Tales are also an important part of training as an Analyst. Fairy Tales are a rich source of material about the unconscious, its patterns and dynamics. Students who are interested in, and good at interpreting Fairy Tales tend to be introverted intuitive types, a functional attitude which is opposite to my superior functional attitude, extraverted sensation. Fairy Tales press upon my inferior function which makes me feel uncomfortable, tired and even irritated. However, I fully accept that it is an important skill to have as an Analyst so I’ve prioritised the seminar Analysis of Fairy Tales in Analytical Practice by Enacting the Fairy Tale Drama in preparation for my exams. The seminar description states that Fairy Tales are psychic manifestations: they show the nature of psyche as well as basic archetypal situations and conflicts. Using selected fairy tales (German and Russian), the seminar will focus on working out diagnostic options and we will play one or two fairy tales in the group.

The next set of seminars play to my strengths. I’ve chosen to attend an experiential seminar entitled Using Drawings as a Diagnostic Tool in Therapy. In this seminar, we will consider drawings from cases in order to learn how they can help to analyse and diagnose a client’s psychic condition and processes. We will then practise some self-experience in this method. As an extraverted sensation type, self-experience and the requirement to bring our own pens and papers plays to my preference for concrete experience, the here and now and production of materials.

Another central part of training as an Analyst is the Word Association Experiment Part I of the required WAE seminar (offered every Spring), presents a brief history of word association, and introduces Jung's theory and work with complexes. It prepares students for their later use of the WAE with an analysand, analysis of the data, and written and oral reports. Part II, the presentation of these reports, is offered every Autumn. Jung became a world-renowned psychiatrist because of his work on the WAE at the Burgholzli Psychiatric Hospital in Zurich. The hospital remains to this day perched on one of the many hills surrounding Zurich with beautiful views of Lake Zurich.

I’m also going to attend an experiential seminar called Sandplay Workshop: Theory and Practice. After a short introduction to the theory and background of Sandplay, we will experience the work in dry and wet sand. A varied collection of figures and other materials will be made available for the creation of images in the sand.

This is an immensely interesting seminar and I think it will be massively insightful for me both personally and psychologically. As a child I absolutely loved playing in dirt, mud and sand, especially after torrential down pours or thunderstorms. I spent part of my early childhood in Uganda, a country situated on the equator in east Africa with a terrain of seasonal heat, dry earth and dust. The seasonal rains were always a welcome reprieve from the dry and scorched earth. The softening of the soil after the rain brought some incredible earthy smells to the atmosphere, and a freshness too which cleared the air of dust and pollution. The soft soil would make perfect putty for all sorts of things that I could imagine building. Figures, structures, roads, paths and enclaves. I created imagined towns, cities, dug out long winding rivers, deep lakes and highly structured dams which created an ebb and flow with the rain waters in the natural landscape of the land around my home. My creations would last a few hours or days before the rains stopped and the scorching sun returned to bake the soil and harden it. It was a wonderful opportunity which allowed me to exercise my imagination and creativity to huge effect. I loved playing in mud, even though I was a total mess afterwards, covered in mud from head to toe. I can imagine that Sandplay can be quite relaxing and therapeutic.

Sandplay therapy is a nonverbal, therapeutic intervention that makes use of a sandbox, toy figures, and sometimes water, to create scenes of miniature worlds that reflect a person’s inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns. This form of play therapy is practiced along with talk therapy, using the sandbox and figures as communication tools. Sandplay involves the mind, the psyche's processes, imagination and creativity, essential ingredients for solving problems. Sandplay therapy takes place in box-like containers referred to as sand trays. The trays are filled with sand that clients use, along with miniature toys, to create a play world that reflects some aspect of real people and real experiences in their own lives. The client chooses from a large collection of toys and builds a small “world” in the tray that reflects what is going on in their lives. The therapist observes the choice and arrangement of toys without interruption, allowing the person to find answers within themselves. After sandplay is completed, the client and therapist analyze and discuss the client’s toy choices, their arrangement pattern in the sand, and their symbolic or metaphoric meanings. Upon discussion, the client often chooses to make changes to the world they have created in sand. Sandplay therapy may consist of a single session or last as long as several years.

My childhood play in mud enabled by the climate and environment was a sign of my preferred functional attitude, Extraverted Sensation, emerging or perhaps developing in my psyche. This psychological attitude influenced how I passed my time in childhood and teenage years. I became very interested in extraverted sensation activities such as sports particularly athletics and swimming, I was exceptionally good at subjects like geography and languages, I even trained as a pilot. But life's circumstances veered me towards academia, a business and languages degree and a career as a freelance management consultant. This seminar is sure to be an interesting one and I look forward to telling you more about it in a future blog.

I’ve barely touched the surface of the number of lectures and seminars available to training Analysts at ISAPZurich. The public schedule is available on the ISAP website https://www.isapzurich.com/en/public-programs/public-program-ss2022/. It usually takes a few hours or sometimes days for me to trawl through the available lectures and seminars, to reflect on and decided which ones I want to attend and to pencil them into my diary. These efforts are made even more complicated for me because I have to factor in my work and personal commitments. I have to drop some classes because of clashes with work meetings or personal activities. However, this time round, I’m consciously trying to strike a balance between my training and work commitments which enables me to feel at ease with the demands on my time. I also want to free up time to complete my Symbol paper and to prepare for the exams in the autumn semester. I’ll finish the blog here because I’m on leave from training and I want to enjoy my time off!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog. The blog-series ‘What’s it like to train as an Analyst? What is Jungian Psychology?’ returns in early March for the Spring 2022 semester.

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