At the end of October 2022, I went to South Africa to launch our first generation (or intake, as they call it) of the Jungian Coaching School. Being in Africa brought me to Jung’s concept of Instinct. I spent three days on a Safari (called a “game” by the South Africans) so I’ve been to a game in nature – become intimate with the environment and instincts. The Jungian concept of the “Instinct” hides under the well-known concept of Archetype and under the difference between Freud and Jung’s terms of “Instinct of life.” In Jung’s writings we can find many quotes relating to instincts: “the instincts and their specific fantasy-contents are partly concrete, partly symbolical, sometimes one, sometimes the other, and they have the same paradoxical character when they are projected.”
(The Psychology of Transference, C.G Jung 1954, pg. 11 Bollingen Series). How does this apply to coaching?
Well, when coachee brings up a topic, we may ask them to close their eyes and see an image which instinctually and sometime irrationally connects to their dilemma. You are entitled to take your client’s unconscious image reliably as it is validated by Jung’s quote that the instinct is concrete, symbolic, and projected. Meaning, the coachee delivers an authentic clue from his or her imagination for a possible solution derived through the instinctually selected image. I am in the bush, I am puzzled how the elephants cool off in the mud, how the impala accepts its vulnerability while possibly hunted by a leopard, how the mother rhino nurtures her baby and how an elephant scares the rhinos away from its family.
“It was in 1919 that Jung first made use of the term archetype and he did so to avoid any suggestion that it was the content and not the unconscious and irresponsible outline or pattern that was fundamental,” says Andrew Samuels in his Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis (1986). He adds, “The archetype is a psychosomatic concept, linking the body and psyche, instinct and image” (26). In Jungian coaching this means that we need to encourage our clients to respond spontaneously when heading towards their internal unconscious coaching capacities. The added value of Jungian coaching lies in the client’s instinctual talent to sort out the right archetype, symbol, or image which awaits down in the unconscious with an innovative solution for actually every single dilemma.