Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Orientational Approach to Psyche

I had the great good fortune of meeting David Rottman last weekend, the President and Chairman of the board at the CG Jung Foundation in NY. I sat in the beautiful Jung Foundation bookstore with four friends as Rottman gave us a wonderful introduction to analyst Yoram Kaufmann's book The Way of the Image (2009) and the Orientational approach to working with the images from psyche.

For a similar introduction to this approach to working with psyche, here is a recent interview with David Rottman on Dr. Kaufmann's work that you can stream online.

As a clinician, Yoram Kaufmann was adamant that there is a correct way to work with images that a client presents in analysis/psychotherapy, and many incorrect (or less optimal) ways of doing so. This objective approach is, however, tailor made to each individual client and moment, which is why his technique may be so hard to understand: it is both precisely objective (a determined technique) and decidedly subjective (dependent on the lexicon of images for the individual patient).

This is how Dr. Kaufmann explained how some ways of working with a client's image can be right, and others wrong, no matter how empathetic.
Most every one has had the following experience--you have a problem, something that you don't understand. You discuss the issue with various friends, all of whom give reasonable, plausible solutions and explanations. But you find them all unsatisfactory. Then someone puts the answer in such a way that you react, "Yes, that's it!" This particular answer might not substantially differ from all the other responses, but, somehow, in the way it was formulated, the emphases placed, it led to an instantaneous recognition of its rightness. (p. 29)
In using his technique, Dr. Kaufmann takes his cues from the images from psyche to make clinical decisions. The presentation of these ideas is extremely refreshing. Rather than intellectualize images, he gives them a respectful nod and responds appropriately. This, to me, is an indication of a strong, authentic relationship between the ego, the actor in the world, and the Self, rather than a contrived one. I encourage others to explore this approach, perhaps the one most strongly related to Jung's own way of working with dreams, in their own personal and clinical work with psyche.

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