In line with the thinking of Carl Jung, I view the psyche as a self regulating system that seeks wholeness on its own. What this means for us is that far from being a tabula rasa—a black slate on which anything can be written or programmed—we come here to be someone in particular. We each have an internal constitution that makes demands of how we should live and be in the world and when we do not listen to those demands or do not have a relationship with them, we tend to experience mental and somatic symptoms, self-loathing, and internal conflict. If we could hear the wisdom in these symptoms we would find that they are often trying to point us back home to ourselves, to who we came here to be. In the same way that the entire genetic profile of the Oak tree is enfolded within its seed, we too have the fullness of who we are here to be in the latent potential of the unconscious psyche.
Our job then, is to make the unconscious, conscious. In doing so we allow the natural expression of that potential, the natural expression of who we are… a job that in modern society is much easier said than done. In my own search to find meaning in life, I have found that a dedicated container with another person who has experience in this search, and who can offer reflections on what they see in me, is an invaluable part of the process of self-discovery. This is the type of container that I seek to provide for my clients.
While I have already used the term “psyche” several times, it’s important to understand what is meant by such a term, especially in the context of one-on-one work. Most people today view psyche as only the “I” that they refer to when they say “I want such and such” or “I like this and I don’t like that”, in other words, they are referring only to consciousness while neglecting the unconscious aspects of the psyche. Through a depth-psychological perspective, the I is only the ego (ego in Latin literally means I), which in itself is only a small part of a vast ordering system of autonomous parts, sub-personalities, and drives within the soul. What this means is that there is far more to you than you know. The goal of one-on-one work is to begin to expose these other aspects of the self. Through exposure to consciousness, we tend to regain the agency and vitality that these unconscious parts keep from us. Further, we tend to experience less internal conflict and more fulfillment in the direction of our life. Often when we begin to get a glimpse into the internal drama that is playing out within us, it tends to translate into a wider capacity to be with our own suffering and perceived inadequacies.
Full disclosure: I do not view people as broken and needing to be fixed but rather, the goal of inner-work is to make clear the adventure that is uniquely ours to live. The right adventure is going to call us out of hiding, it's going to help us find the courage we need to confront our own shadows, and is going to lead us into the life we are here to live. It is for this reason that Joseph Campbell says, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Only by understanding the unique adventure that we were born for will the soul find the satisfaction it seeks. The word psyche itself derives from the Greek word psukhē, meaning soul. It is soul that my one-on-one work is dedicated to fostering. Much of our difficulties in life can be seen as a byproduct of the soul trying to emerge from behind the ego and the intense struggle that takes place as we try to curb that emergence.
We should also note here that much of that struggle, at least the root of it, is unconscious until we begin to reflect on our lives in the proper container with the proper framework for understanding—which is a large motivation in my desire to offer this kind of work. It is here that we begin to recognize what Carl Jung meant when he said, “until we make the unconscious conscious, it will rule our lives and we will call it fate”.
This focus on the unconscious is one thing that separates this work from personal development work. Personal development work is often about getting better in an area that one has identified. It usually involves goal setting, strategies, and habits where progress can be marked in a linear fashion. Soul work, however, is transformational work—it is about opening to the organic unfolding that is trying to happen in and through you, which at times feels linear, as if we are progressing ever upward, and at other times looks like a necessary regression so that new light can be shed on old darkness. Through personal development, these regressions tend to feel like failure; from the perspective of soul work, they look like necessity with their own wisdom to offer. While I began my work in the personal development space, it dawned on me rather quickly that I could set all of the goals in the world but if I do not know the part of myself that is happy to wreck my progress toward those goals, than I am going to be stuck in a constant push-pull. Further, because we are transforming and not simply developing the ego toward an idea of “better”, we typically do not know where it is all going. Soul work forces us to embrace the mystery. This, of course, is why it’s called transformation in the first place—it’s not as if a caterpillar has any inkling into the life of a butterfly, only when transformed does he know. This example, though overused I’m sure, also serves to highlight what kind of work transformation actually is. It’s a deeply committed engagement with life whereby new knowledge and wisdom is given as we engage with it, not only as we think about it. Transformation is a reciprocal process that occurs between us and our lives. As we engage with our lives in new and deeper ways, our insight and understanding also deepens as the world is disclosed to us in new and deeper ways.
This brings up the last part of my philosophy on psyche that can be helpful to know before beginning this work. Psyche is not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is not, a description of only the brain or “mind”. Psyche in this view heals the mind/body split that we’ve been operating under in the West ever since the Enlightenment. Psyche encompasses the totality of who we are. For this reason, hints about the myth that is trying to live through us can be seen and accessed in the body as well as through the mind. Much academic work has been done on this in recent years, and I would recommend the interested person check that out, (I have also written several papers on this topic). For the purposes of this explanation, however, I point this out to say that in addition to the psychoanalytic method, I also tend to bring meditation, breath work, and postural work into sessions as they are needed and/or desired.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that my work is deeply influenced by contemplative spiritual traditions of the East and West. While I certainly do not ascribe to the dogma of any one religion, I view a spiritual connection as integral to the flourishing of the human being. While clients do not need to have this same view, I put these here to say that these sessions can be incredibly valuable for rebuilding a sense of spirituality and connectedness to something larger. The spiritual aspect of our humanity is incredibly individualistic and thus requires a unique relationship that is deeply personal to us.
In this vein, I also work with psychoactive plants as a facilitator and guide and believe one-on-one work can be incredibly beneficial for integrating these experiences and developing a helpful relationship with them.
I give this partial explanation of the work so that potential clients can orient to the perspective that I work with in session. I recommend listening to or reading more of my content to get a feel for how I work. In addition to what’s above I have studied in depth or written papers exploring the following topics, which may be helpful to know in assessing whether this container is the right fit for what you are looking for.
Post Traumatic Growth (I am currently part of a team producing a documentary on this!)
Religious trauma and how our images of God must evolve to meet the needs of the Psyche
How personal ritual can be seen as a way of cultivating hidden potential
How life itself can be seen as an arena for spiritual development
The intersection of Tantra and depth-psychology (this is one of my favorite topics to explore)
Psychology and Yoga as paths of transformation
I also utilize the messenger app Marco Polo for continued coaching support between calls. In the past five years of my practice, I have found that this is an indispensable tool. Often when we are working to integrate new ways of being into our life, it is easier to talk a situation out when it arises, rather than wait for the next scheduled call. All one-on-one clients get access to Marco Polo.
In addition I also have many pre-recorded guided meditations, lectures, journaling prompts and other materials that can be helpful for the dedicated seeker as they are needed and/or required.