Nora Swan-Foster

DIPLOMATE JUNGIAN ANALYST

My approach to psychotherapy and analysis is firmly rooted in honoring the image and the symbolic nature of the psyche through the creative process. Dreams and art provide material for working with psychological issues.  

The images on my web site are of the various stages of the pomegranate. What we know most is the pomegranate fruit with its glimmering seeds. These seeds offer an image and metaphor for the various aspects of the psychological work.  Not every seed is flavorful and juicy–some are woody and disappointing and we may need to spit them out, discerning what is satisfying to our soul and what is no longer compatible for our life. 

The pomegranate suggests a wholeness that is ripe with hidden possibilities of both loss, pain and suffering yet, through this suffering, we discover the juicy creative potentials of our individuation.  When we make a commitment to our psyche through analysis, the healing tonic eventually becomes known to us in various ways. Indeed, the therapeutic work may begin with just one taste of a seed, but then grow and flower into a fruit that is plentiful and full of choices. With increased knowledge, resources, and new behaviors, we realize how the psyche is eventually transformed by the taste of that very first seed.

Actively making choices in our life and moving with authenticity and playful spontaneity are important factors that encourage emotional health. Sometimes it can even be fun, mysterious, or humorous. Working in a therapeutic relationship to discern and differentiate the seeds of our psyche is a life long journey. The juice that is squeezed from our inner work is the healing tincture that we can return to over and over again throughout our life. If we trust to taste the initial seeds of psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, we can become more deeply known by ourselves and by others. We will become visible through the creative and collaborative work with personal images, dreams, and feelings, all of which is possible if it is held by a sustaining therapeutic relationship. These opportunities and rich encounters nourish our soul. No one can take from us the treasures we harvest through personal inner symbolic psychological work. 

From a Jungian perspective, when we encounter emotional challenges, these are often “calls” or opportunities to face a challenge, to embark on a psychological journey or enter an initiatory process. Most times we are unable to turn away from the call. This is what Jung called an individuation journey, a process that moves us towards wholeness as we experience the guilt and suffering of transformation. With invitations to become more knowledgeable about who we are, analysis secures the space and time to delve deeper into the pockets of our mind and soul so as to understand the past and how it relates to our current life and the ways we wish to live in the future. We uncover the meaning and purposive nature of our own psychological journey, which is sometimes referred to as a personal myth or narrative. 

The departure from what we know into an analytic journey can feel uncertain. This is natural. Giving our self the time and space to bring acceptance for our current state of being, without limitations and expectations, leads to previously unseen options and solutions; however, we have to allow the process to work on us; it’s not just about us working on the process. When we listen, psyche begins to speak to us rather than us dictating how psyche should be responding and behaving. The work you and I may do together will open the doors and windows to other worlds, expanding your toolbox, and discovering meaning where perhaps you thought there was only dark nothingness. 

Psychotherapy or analysis is a process of clearing out the emotional cobwebs so as to shine light on the unconscious patterns, thoughts, and feelings that continue to influence our daily life. With time and practice, this inner life can impart wisdom on our daily outer life and how we engage with others now and in the future. Below are a few additional thoughts on what makes a therapeutic relationship successful.

Building Trust in the relationship: One of the most essential factor of a successful therapeutic relationship is having the right fit between two people so that trust can develop. Research shows it is first the relationship that heals, not the techniques or tools that a psychotherapist uses. Psychotherapy and analysis is a collaborative process between two people. No one analysis looks or feels like another, so it is important you are relatively comfortable asking questions and sharing honestly how you feel and think in the moment—it’s a process of learning to track your inner world without judgment or censorship. Being with yourself in the presence of another person is the ultimate goal of our work together and this takes trust, time and continuity.  At times this approach is nonlinear and unpredictable and does not follow a protocol, but the  investment in your emotional world is psychologically “money in the bank.”  

Removing the walls: Jungian analysis, psychoanalysis or psychotherapy are all focused on working with the psychological barriers so your zest for life can be nourished in a way that allows you to be more of who you were meant to be. My particular training allows me to listen closely to your visual and verbal stories, getting to know how you may unconsciously operate in ways that are preventing you from solving the difficult problems or making the changes you so desire. Together we will listen and look for metaphors, images, ideas, and feelings that might help to undo the psyche barriers—the obstacles that may keep you stuck in grief, anxiety, depression, or be preventing you from responding to the “call” for creating change in your life. As your symptoms shift and fade and new ways of operating in the world begin to set in, you will notice living a more embodied and creative life, what Jung named “a symbolic life.” 

Using our creativity and images: Jung determined that creativity was one of five essential instincts that we all share as humans. This instinct expresses the inexpressible that is both personal as well as archetypal. Images come through the dreams we have at night, the stories we tell ourselves, how our body expresses itself, or the pictures we create in our mind. These images and stories are necessary human responses as we live with difficulties, solve problems, alleviate anxiety, or come to some understanding of life. A Jungian orientation invites us to dig into the persistent old dark images and beliefs, rather than to move away from the unwanted suffering. A Jungian orientation knows that when we deny or disconnect from the suffering, we eventually become lost from our true self and from the world around us. Meaning and purpose is lost. Jungian psychology values the darkness where both the stories of beauty and pain are told. Rather than simply focusing on shortcomings, together we also draw on alternative images and stories that illustrate and encourage new understandings of growth and fulfillment. 

For an evidence-based view on the benefits of psychoanalysis see the following article in the Scientific American

1137 Pearl Street, Suite 205, Boulder, CO 80302 303-440-4000nora@swanfoster.com