In favor of Jungian Coaching

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This article presents a comprehensive theoretical and practical survey focusing on the added value of Jungian Coaching. It will begin with the author’s explanation of archetypes, and then describe work with company and executives; it will touch on the principles of Alchemy that produce change and finally, the article will end with the Jungian philosophical principles that guide a Jungian coaching process.

Why would coach, consultants and organizational psychologists consider inquiring into Jungian Coaching? While practicing Jungian coaching I often see astonished skeptical glances when I declare out loud that I am a Jungian coach. When coaches in practice get frustrated on their coaching job, I recommend to them “try Jungian coaching!” The uniqueness and added value of Jungian coaching is that it grants the client innovative perspectives on situations, events and processes at work. It enables the coach to see and comprehend invisible contents that activate processes, it provides the employee with vocabulary words and concepts that explain behavioral phenomenon, develops symbolic thinking in the team, as well as understanding of unconscious motivations and conflicts. It helps the trainees to attain meaning for their tremendous efforts and investments as well as their inevitable sufferings, frustrations, blocked states, inability to make decisions and tolerate obscure conditions. Jungian coaching recharges the system with irrational data which needs to be taken seriously. It fills the organization’s culture with feminine elements such as expressing feelings, containment, tolerance and nurturing, encourages original initiatives, creative thinking, imagination, thinking outside the box, bonds the individual to the collective, to the past ,the present and future of his/her own life as well as his/her business and  investigates the company’s heritage, tradition and mythology which make solid roots for future vision.

There have been several attempts to present a Jungian approach to organization in the last years. Predominant are Corlett and Pearson (2003) with their pioneer book that is practical and bright. Previously, Jones (1996) offered comprehension of symbolism in organizations. We can also find interesting attempts to combine theoretical glimpses with case studies which, in my opinion, keep Jungian coaching on merely a vague theoretical level. Such are Smith (2002) with his attempt to connect the biblical book of Job to the feminine principle in leadership. Kociatkiewicz (2009) uses the concept of shadow archetype in order to present stories based on ethno-graphically inspired field studies of experiencing economic events and Ketola (2012) with a case study of a female company manager. Some tried to demonstrate applications of archetypal figures to case studies, such as Bala (2010), showing an interesting interpretation of the Trickster archetype, Goldberg (2001) using the Hero archetype, Remington (2007) who uses biblical mythology to connect to the analysis of  leadership. I found Denise’s (1997) article relating to feminine foundations in organizational psychology impressing.

For a coach to start applying Jungian thinking in his/her training approach, one must learn the basic vocabulary of the Jungian language relating to an individual and to an organization’s psyche.  It also requires practicing non- rational thinking by using symbols, metaphors, images and archetypes. Here are basic assumptions which create the solid Jungian background theory for coaching:

  1. Any company or organization operates (from a psychological point of view) like a human being: 20% of the data dwells on the conscious level and 80% belongs to the company’s unconscious.
  2. A company is like a vessel. Any organization is a container conceiving a community. In this case it is paradoxically a feminine organism (womb and fetuses) characterized by feminine psychology.
  3. Every company has a Shadow. It is the company’s rejected hidden, repressed inferior actions which operate on its employees while they are not aware of its impact.
  4. Every company has a Psyche. The individual psyche is divided into the personal and the unconscious collective levels. Accordingly, every company has its “personal story” and its “unconscious archetypal world”.
  5. Femininity has to do with better managerial skills for men. Man’s unconscious has a feminine entity (Anima = relatedness, feelings, creativity and intuition). Connected with the Anima potential, a manager will relate better to himself and to his colleagues, subordinates, boss and customers.
  6. Women’s masculinity (Animus) has to do with management achievements. Her Animus traits are congruency, targeting, intrusiveness, speed and logic. Her challenge is to balance her femininity with her Animus.
  7. People tend to confuse femininity and masculinity with sexuality. All men and women have all three traits.
  8. Companies have Heroes. A hero is one who departs from a security zone, exposing oneself to challenges that enable him/her to develop both ego functions (career) and contact with the Self (spiritual assets).
  9. Every company has tricksters who maneuver in it. The trickster stage is crucial in the developmental process of the human being. It adheres to process in the company.

In applying Jungian coaching on the macro level (company consultation) I look at the company from a pendulum point of view. I am moving back and forth. From one pole of the particular issue I had been asked to coach, towards the opposing pole where the whole company structure (potential and limitations) had been previously registered by me on the company’s diagnosis. Both the contents that my client (micro) has presented to me, and the company’s structure and dynamics (macro) are first translated in my head into archetypal images which immediately grant me additional understanding of the issues and challenges being dealt with. I will usually share my Jungian understanding with my clients.

By this, they (executives, teams, managers or supervisors) expand their comprehension of the issue unfolding and its hidden meaning. Usually this intellectual yet very creative process points out unconscious data that the clients were not aware of in the beginning of the coaching process. When I come upon macro archetypal images (those that correspond to the company’s issues) with the micro archetypal images (those that relate to the individual executive) I learn the psycho-organizational contradictions, benefits, and innovative, destructive currents that operate on the individuals of the organization. The insights obtained are similar to those of a doctor and client waiting for an x-ray to appear on the doctor’s computer screen to reveal suspected data about the client’s health.

Example: Recently, I was asked to lead team coaching in the geriatric department of a large hospital. The nursing staff was composed of male nurses from mixed backgrounds, Israeli Arabs and Russian new immigrants. In the hospital hierarchy, both the geriatric department and the male nursing team suffer from low status. The members of the male nursing staff are looked upon as underprivileged employees. I am told that the relationships between staff members are deplorable, creating a shadow over the miserable senile patients. During the first session with the team, the following Jungian concepts come to mind: Persona issues (prejudice about “Arabs “and “Russians”), Archetype of the ‘Wise old man’ (transforming the persona of old dying patients into a search for human dignity and wisdom), ‘Shadow’ (the capability of the team to own its inferiority) , Connectedness to the ‘Organizational Libidinal Archetype’ and to the ‘ Conjunction Archetype’ (discovering the joy of collaboration, the pride of team cohesiveness). I schedule eight sessions, I plan to use creative tools to expose the team to tasks that will enable them to experience the issues as they unfold. Each experiential activity will be followed by group dynamics.

Here is a Jungian dictionary I have developed, revealing a comparative data of human psychic vs. company psychic archetypes.

Archetype Individual company
Heritage The known history of humankind which inspires innovations, revolutions and discoveries All accumulated knowledge, tradition and regulations passed in company from generation to generation
Mythology The overall legacy of legends, fairytales and mythologies which tell us about human traits & needs The accumulated company’s stories from it’s very beginning holding the company’s values, history and prid
Creation Human beings’ innate creativity that strives to be actualized through arts, science and wisdom The valuable asset of human resource which concentrates on development, research and inventions
Tradition The culture passed on through generations in nations of people and families influencing  individual decisions The accumulated company rituals, habits and history which dictate company policy
Destruction The innate human need to destroy. Freud called it: Id The inevitable unconscious desire in the company to destructive patterns, initiatives and sometimes careers
Self The deepest Archetype, “father” of all archetypes, denotes human potential to fulfill and actualize The potential growth in companies, the vision, the company’s integrity, the company’s future
Equilibrium Human need to balance polarities is the compensatory function which enables human beings to stabilize Phenomenon aimed to achieve balance & equality between extreme antagonistic powers in a company
Libido Human beings’ sexual drives and energy invested  in love, harmony and integration Energy in company which enables creativity, affect, communication and collaboration
Complex A cluster of unconscious contents with an archetype at its core to which humans react with strong emotions A hidden agenda, data or behavior which is totally not accepted in the organization and may cause severe responses from senior management
Wounded Healer An archetype of healing qualities that all humans possess, and is helpful in times of trauma or stress Is an experienced wise and creative employee , or consultant  who takes over the healing role in the company
Conjunction The unity of opposites, of poles like Ying & Yang, refers to sexual intercourse in its spiritual sense Is any coalition between parties in company who get together, join in venture and create new initiatives
Trickster Archetype symbolizes the instinctual, manipulative, artistic, clever, political side in human the being Is a manager or employee’s capacity to manipulate, benefit from weak situations, promote his/her interests, create coalitions and ventures, use political acts to benefit
Hero Archetype symbolizes any human quest leaving the security zone and overcoming obstacles that finally entitle him/her not only to achievements but to spiritual understanding of life Is any employee or manager who dares shift away from the security position he/she functions from, towards a start of a professional quest to upgrade him/herself. This quest has 17 steps to go through although not all are fulfilled.
Shadow The inferior side in our personality which we project on others, the evil, dark, materialistic, aggressive, jealous ugly part in every human being Are inferior and evil energies, powers, tendencies and approaches which dictate company’s attitude on the unconscious level
Animus Is the masculine unconscious side in every woman, once connected to her animus a woman can develop her ambition, career, intellectuality, physical strength Is the feminine energy activated by a woman manager/employee in order to promote her career, develop innovations and manage people
Anima Is the feminine unconscious side in every man, once connected to his anima a man can develop his affect, intuition, creativity, containment and expressivity On macro level it is the value a company holds to promote, support and care about its employees. On the micro level it is the affect and sentimental approach male managers hold towards their employees.
Persona The social mask every human being needs in order to function, includes status, profession, garments, skills ego maneuvers Persona has to do with all external interfaces the company holds with customers and colleagues, it has to do with advertisements, logo, icons, company uniform, company’s symbol
Analysis & Differentiation Are fundamental functions of a “strong Ego”, the human ability to analyze, differentiate and integrate data and feelings, relates to all cognitive and affective functions Is the company’s ability to analyze its activities and dynamics in order to draw conclusions and improve performances
Ego Consciousness Is all what human beings know, are aware of, sense, realize, perceive, attribute Has to do with the ability of the company to acknowledge drawbacks, faults, weaknesses, to hold transparent systems and relationships and to negotiate freely between teams and directors.
Individuation Is a psychological process human beings go through in the course of becoming who he/she needs to be and become On the macro level, it is the ability of a company or organization to identify its needs and targets and proceeding to achieve them. On the micro level it is the company’s positive predisposition and policy to enable managers and employees to advance, develop and promote themselves within the company’s boundaries.
Ego inflation Is a psychological state where the Ego functioning, behavior and ideas are noticeably increased (like in a state of workaholism) , the person is not aware of enlarged self-esteem not fitting reality Is a malignant situation where company’s targets, projects and managerial approaches are far above actual potential to fulfill expectations.

 

What is the practical contribution of the archetypal-reservoir to a coach who wishes to empower, encourage self-growth and change in his/her client’s performance? We should differ between ‘Archetypes’ to ‘Archetypal Images’.  (Samuels, 1991). The archetype, defined by Samuels is “evident only through its manifestation”. He adds:” they influence a person’s functioning… and are recognizable in outer behaviors…revealing themselves by way of such inner figures as Anima, Shadow, Persona and so forth”. Archetypal patterns, says Samuels “wait to be realized in the personality”.  So we deal here with an unconscious inner psychic image that presents traits, tales, dynamic and potential. Once brought into awareness, an archetype may become a leading inner coach, a model for identification, an inner intrinsic active modifying agent for change, which transforms and shapes the personality. We deal here with a fantastic role -model engine of traits that our client may choose to develop for better professional management.

Example: How do you grow ‘Trickster’ in your client’s managerial proceedings?  Why being a trickster is of his/her interest at that particular step where he/she is located in the firm? Why being a trickster is the very ethical and appropriate response to a certain situation your client is challenged with. How will you develop ‘Trickster’ behavior in your client’s maneuvers, how will you turn a naïve “by the book” employee who was nominated to a managerial position to be able to handle company’s strategy as expected when there is much opposition for his/her nomination.

The archetypal uniqueness lies in its dual structure, containing opposite values, both negative and positive. With this dual structure, the archetypal image offers our clients the optimal potential range of behavior choices  to choose from in order to expand towards a desired functioning skill. By the principle of the ‘compensatory function’, our clients may either choose to use and own a particular archetypal quality. They may  search for this vital archetypal quality in order to build it up gradually with the support of their coach or supportive team. It is about owning a new repertoire of management or performance. At other times we deal with a potential that needs to be reduced and controlled. However, most often it is what needs to be   adapted, nurtured and increased. Jungian coaching will become an operative field for practicing and cultivating leaders, managers, employees as well as companies to identify the missing archetypal assets they need, connect to them, understand their potential, translate them into proven behavior or actions and eventually improve their accomplishments. This process is similar to the muscles’ capacity a trainee is not aware of when first stepping into the gym. As he/she persists in practicing on different machines, he/she will soon develop new muscle tissues that will shape his/her appearance and performance.

Example: A rumor runs in a company saying that a senior manager harasses his female employees. The company coach is asked to intervene. What preventive intervention must be taken with the manager? Should the manager’s undeveloped ‘Anima’ be exposed in order to save both his position and his employees’ healthy working environment a moment before catastrophe strikes? This is a most crucial intervention which would bring the manager in contact with his feelings, consider affectionate factors in his response repertoire and get in touch with his Anima. This is the time to challenge that ETSJ manager (Extrovert, Thinking, Sensational Judging, MBTI preference personality test results of the manager) in bringing his inferior functioning towards awareness and using his auxiliary capacities (Feeling – Intuitive sides)   to prevent him from abusive behavior. This is where the scholar, authoritarian highly qualified manager will have to befriend his ‘Anima’ (emotional data base), discover it, dialogue with it and take it under consideration in his daily strategies at the office.

Every problem, issue, dilemma or situation is “sited” in hidden archetypes.  The beginning of a coaching process starts using a ‘transcendent function’ technique. This technique clarifies which archetype is involved with the issue we wish to focus on. Or alternately, to which archetype must the trainee connect in order to discover the powers required for development and change. The transcendent function (a Jungian concept), is that mental processes are executed while dreaming, producing art or free association when awake.  So in order to connect to a relevant archetype we need to encourage our client to associate with an image that relates to or expresses the dilemma he/she wishes to focus on (see later in the article my comments on non-rational thinking). This paradoxical distancing brings up a clue from the unconscious that approximates an archetype. As shown previously, we may use the basic archetypes upon which we can establish effective Jungian coaching both on the individual and company levels. Once the relevant archetype has been sorted out, it is applied for the sake of the client’s growth or avoidance and reduction.

Example: A 47 year old successful female general manager in a very large food production company is referred to me for severe outbursts of temper resulting in attacks on her subordinates, behavior that could well damage her career. She is a pretty and energetic lady who creates an immediate and good rapport with me. A 20 minute intake interview exposes the following data: she is the second child after a retarded brother, mother is neglected by father while pregnant with her, father leaves for good to another country, mother returns to village and back to the big city with grandmother (mom’s mother) and an alcoholic uncle (no positive male figures to identify with). Life in the big city offers her childhood and youth two options:  grow up as a juvenile delinquent or connect to her Animus and make a brilliant career – which she did, getting a Ph.D and relocating in faraway countries. Marries an English business man and brings up two children (age 7)  works from 7:00 – 20:00 assisted by helpers at home, husband is away at work. Nominated general manager, the firm accountant, long before her in the company, runs his financial activities arrogantly ignoring her and retaining direct contact with the owners, she is outraged. My impression says the client is ‘Animus possessed ‘ she is not using her feminine assets (patience, nurturing, mediating, affectionate, processing), her righteousness drives her crazy. When asked, this food industry general manager answers, she hates to cook. I suggest she works with clay while talking to me (transcendent function). Using her hands, she first squeezes the clay with her fists towards the hard table (as she does to the accountant). After my feedback, she changes the clay position upwards and while caressing it, she shapes it tenderly into a huge arc. Now she is relaxed. I ask her to hold a dialogue between herself and the sculpture. She praises the sculpture-mountain and wishes to rest in its curves, the mountain invites her in. She carves holes (columbarium) inside, practicing feminine nesting (for retreating). We discuss the essential need to regain feminine qualities in her managerial interactions, we look for ideas. I bring two miniatures: a goddess connected to mother-earth and a hero, she locates them and we speak about those two qualities essential for best management skills. We shall meet in a few weeks for a follow up.

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The difference between common coaching and Jungian coaching is in its archetypal knowledge. Our acquired understanding of the psychodynamic contents of the archetypes involved in a particular dilemma provides us with a behavioral formula for how to coach our trainee towards achieving the expected skills or changes targeted.

Another helpful source agent for change is the adoption of non-rational thinking and the use of symbols and images. Most trainees, as most people, look for problem solving in domains they are accustomed to, in past solutions, available capacities, or the near and familiar environment. Non rational thinking (as known to us from mythologies, particularly the Greek mythology)  challenges the trainee to dare to bring up ideas, wishes, desires and fantasies in the range of the unbelievable, unexpected and even forbidden realm. Surely, it is enough that such movement out of the security zone – first in thought only, then by daring to act– will bring the trainee to innovative solutions, which will turn him or her into a “Hero” in the Jungian sense.

The use of metaphor or symbol grants the trainee a visual-emotional code, such as an icon, to which he/she can connect in the face of challenge, or conflict. Memorizing the coaching session and its insights, helps adhere to what was agreed, understood, committed to and internalized during the course of the coaching sessions.

The notion that the individual’s psychology is as valid as the psychology of the organization or firm, meaning what is true on the micro level is true for the macro level, provides top quality economizing coaching potential. A team whose individual members have acquired Jungian thinking, will also run Jungian oriented team work. They will look for the hidden archetype which blocks them, and search for the appropriate archetype needed to pull them out from an impasse. By the same token, a management ‘thinking Jung’  welcomes managerial policies characterized by the use of non-rational agenda and assimilating them on the managerial level of the company.

Jung attributed to Alchemy a data-base program describing analogies for mental processes that cause change. These processes open up strategies for the Jungian coach to stimulate developmental changes in favor of the trainee. Through the Alchemic principles, the Jungian coach understands how to apply archetype-work with the trainee. In analogy, Alchemy is the style of cooking, the archetypes are the spices and the personality is the modified ingredients.

Here are seven alchemical principles producing change through Jungian coaching processes (Netzer 2004) :

Kalkinatio – Burning, melting, drying, and changing into dust, warming by fire. This refers to inevitable suffering and tremendous effort we must encourage our client to go through in order to secure true change.

Solutio – Melting the solid by water. Melting the conscious mechanisms into unconsciousness and emotions. This refers to the inevitable demand to involve feelings, relatedness, affect and emotional considerations in analyzing a problem in a coaching process.

Kagulatio – Drying, drying out the material from the emotional water, turning the liquid material into substantial, grounding, being practical. Transferring contents into the conscious ego. This refers to reducing, eliminating, avoiding certain behaviors or involvements or to demand punctual, decisive realistic acts from our clients.

Sublimatio – vaporization, transforming the impulsive-concrete into spiritual and symbolic.  This refers to the essential need to understand events and episodes from a symbolic point of view to ascribe meaning to states in which the trainee is involved. It also refers to a crucial need to balance career with spiritual activities to prevent  burnout or workaholism.  

Mortificatio – Death. Every move from one stage to another other enforces inevitable death, suffering and Inevitable torture. Negrado deals with darkness, rot, decomposition (futreficatio). This refers to the ability of our client to accept endings in career, accept failure and accidents as crossroads stages in an ongoing career.

Seperatio – separate, cut, differentiate, distill and pull apart the material from all that is irrelevant, sorting out, conscious work. This refers to teaching our client to think and consider in logical systematic analytic ways, cognitively analyzing situations and options.

Conunctio – Connection of polarities, bringing materials into integration. This refers to integrative work we do with clients to avoid manic or depressive responses and keep balanced involvement at work.

Does Jungian coaching restrict itself solely to the practice of archetypical images implementations? Not at all. Firstly, the archetypal world corresponds efficiently with Jung’s psychological types (mentioned in previous example). MBTI preference diagnostic tool characterizes the personality. At the very spot where the MBTI provides us with a personality profile of the manager, Jungian coaching stands to contribute by changing and modifying people for better collaborations. It develops the expected awareness, change and growth from the diagnosed particulars.

Secondly, Jungian psychology is much wider than its archetypal contribution. It also grants us basic assumptions about the human psyche, and additional assumptions about the individual and the collective:

Dialectic principle and the unity of poles. Means that what had been achieved eventually will fade away or vanish . Nothing is absolutely sustainable. There is no permanency and situations or conditions are reversible. The opposing is also complementary; therefore we should make an effort to embrace opposites.

Balancing and compensatory function. What we lack apparently we shall seek. What we possess with plentitude we will tend to loosen or shed.

 Materialism relates to spirituality. At the summit of success there lies the need for intense spirituality, and at the lowest point of spirituality dwells a need for actualization.

Transcendent  function. The unconscious strives to actualize itself by emerging to the conscious level. It will use dreams, art and tip of the tongue phenomena to show its interest in our actual life.

In summary, all these principles ( taken by Jung from Zen Buddhism and other spiritual and mythological sources),  teach us that each individual and company are enveloped by psychological forces that grasp both the organization and its members in magnetized gravitation. Jungian coaching contributes to deciphering the manner with which these forces operate on us and influence our business lives. There are two options for applying a Jungian approach to a company, either on a macro level (organization) or on micro level (employee). We can do preventive work offering workshops or we can provide coaching on an individual basis for executives and teams.
Below are some examples for Jungian workshops in companies:

References

Bala, M. (2010). The Clown: An Archetypal Self-Journey. Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche: 4:1.

Bridges, W. (2010) Character of Organizations, using personality type in Organization Development. Nicholas Brealey Pub.

Campbell, J. (1988) The Hero with a Thousand faces. Paladin, London.

Corlett, J. & Pearson, C. (2003). Mapping the Organizational Dynamics and Change. Florida: Center of Applications of Psychological Type, Inc.

Denise, L. (1997). The feminine in the foundations of organizational psychology. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science; 33, 1; 7.

Furth, G. (1988) The Secret World of Drawings, Healing Through Art.  Sigo Press, Boston.

Goldberg, R. (2001). The Consultant as Hero. Organization Development Journal, 19, 3.

Grifin, D. (1989). Archetypal Process, Self and Devine in Whitehead, Jung and Hillman. Northwestern University Press, Illinois.

Hopcke, R. Men’s Dreams, Men’s Healing (2007) ,Hebrew translation: HaKibbutzim Publ. Tel Aviv

Jacoby, M. (1990) Individuation and Narcissism, The Psychology of the Self in Jung and Kohut. Routledge , London.

Jones, M.O. (1996). Studying Organizational Symbolism. A Sage University Paper.

Jung, C.G (1964). Man and his Symbols. Picador, London.

Jung, C.G. (1969) Four Archetypes. Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster. Ark Paperback, London.

Jung, C.G. (1976) Aspects of the Feminine. Bollingen Series, Princeton.

Jung, C.G. (1976) Aspects of theMasculine. Bollingen Series, Princeton.

Jung, C.G. (1976) Alchemical Studies. Bollingen Series, Princeton.

Jung, C.G. (1976) Psychological Types. Bollingen Series, Princeton.

Jung, C.G. (1989) Psychology and alchemy, Routledge, London.

Kociatkiewicz,  J. (2009). Experiencing the Shadow: Organizational Exclusion and Denial within Experience Economy. Organization 2010, 17:257.

Matthews, R. (2002). Competition archetypes and creative imagination. Journal of Organizational Change and Management: 15, 5.

Netzer, R. (2004) The Quest for the Self, Alchemy of the Soul, Symbols and Mythology. Modan Pub. House, Israel

Neumann, E. (1974). Art and the Creative Unconscious. Bollinger, Princeton, U.S.A

Remington, N. (2007). The Leadership Archetype: A Jungian Analysis of Similarities between Modern Leadership theory and the Abraham Myth in the Judaic-Christian Tradition. Journal of Business Ethics, 72:1, 125-129

Samuels, A. (1991) A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis, Routledge, London & New York.

Sedgwick, D. (1994) The Wounded Healer, Countertransference from a Jungian Perspective, Routledge, London

Smith, C. (2002). Leading change: insights from Jungian interpretations of The Book of Job. Journal of Organizational Change and Management: 15, 5, p. 448

Starr-Glass, D. (2002). The Voice of the Shuttle, Mythical and Organizational Transformation. Journal of Organizational Change and Management: 15, 5.

Tarja Ketola ( 2012). Losing  Your Self: managerial persona and shadow pressures killing responsible leadership, in: Journal of Management Development Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 470-487

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Dr. Avi Goren Bar
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