By Elisha Gilb
What is depth psychotherapy? Depth psychotherapy is a psychoanalytic therapeutic modality meaning that it looks at the unconscious and early life experiences as fundamental aspects influencing us in the here and now. A depth psychotherapy session may look at teasing a part a dream the client had or using active imagination to move a problem through a person’s life.
The work done in depth therapy centers around dream work. A person may bring in a very important dream. The therapeutic work would stem from looking at the components of the dreams, for example, the images. We would look to explore the meanings and significance of factors making up the dream, and the implications of the dream or unconscious material on the person’s lived experience. The work and dream could be further extended by using active imagination. For example, perhaps a dead relative came to the dreamer, and before the dreamer could ask an important question, the dreamer woke up. Extending the work therapeutically via active imagination, I’d ask the dreamer to continue the conversation in the therapy setting. This type of work holds significance as it allows unconscious material to become conscious, and moves psychic energy into the personal growth and understanding of psychic material.
Ultimately, it would be fair to say that depth psychology deals with that which is hidden or lies under the surface. Curiosity about this inner world is what drew Freud and Jung — and many modern psychotherapists — to their work. One of the goals is to gain access to these depths in ourselves and to stop to ponder our lives. We may be prompted to do this by having an interesting and unexpected dream, or we may think of someone just as they call. We may have been moved by a moment of deep communion with nature, art, another person, or sometimes we are even drawn to consider our inner world as a result of pain, disappointment, or illness. In whatever way we come to take this step of inner exploration, through this process we can catch a glimpse of a layer of our lives that we often take for granted.
There is great wisdom in these depths. Taking the time to open ourselves to this level of experience can lead to a strong sense of peace and we come to know that we are leading the life we were meant to live.