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What is depth psychology in literature

Initially the unconscious was conceived in structural terms with much attention to the content, especially symbolic meanings; in the contemporary world this notion has been expanded to include the study of processes which operate outside conscious awareness. In general these psychologies see the human being as often divided against him or herself, with some thoughts, feelings, wishes, and memories accessible to awareness, and others hidden beneath the surface. By focusing on the unconscious, C. G.Jung, Sigmund Freud, and their followers worked to chart and delineate what lies outside of conscious awareness, and to illumine the dynamics between consciousness and what is extruded or not admitted to it, including collective aspects with cultural and archetypal dimensions.

What Depth Psychology Is

Through the study of dreams, images, symptoms, slips of the tongue, spontaneous humor, meaningful coincidences as well as interpersonal engagements, depth psychologists attempt to understand the language and the dynamics of the unconscious as it manifests in their work with clients and in the world. Depth psychological approaches to psychological suffering attempt to help individuals become aware of what has been cast out of consciousness or not yet able to be known. Healing is associated with allowing what has been repressed, rejected, denied or ignored to come forward so that the person can understand, explore its significance and integrate it, allowing for a transformation in consciousness. Depth Psychology also attends to the way unconscious processes express themselves in society and culture, and how culture affects the psyche.

Depth Psychology is an interdisciplinary endeavor, drawing on literature, philosophy, mythology, the arts, and critical studies. Concepts and practices at the core of depth psychology are central to Pacifica’s degree programs and each graduate degree’s curriculum is enlivened and deepened by the integration of its ideas.

“Depth psychologists…love to look for signs that ‘psyche’ is speaking to us, and one way we hear her voice is through the presence of synchronicities.”

“…this long marriage between myself and depth psychology has been possible because I found in depth psychology a basic orientation to being that seeks to allow what is to be present in its animation and its difference. It is a desire for the liberation of being.”

Efficacy of Depth Psychology

Evidence for the efficacy of depth psychological approaches to psychotherapy is growing as studies show that depth psychology has a longer-lasting and more profound impact than cognitive or behavioral psychologies alone. Depth psychological approaches to psychotherapy are now joined by depth psychological approaches to community, cultural, and ecological issues. Pacifica students and graduates help the field evolve through their scholarship, creative work, and actions in the world.

Contemporary Evidence-Based Research for Depth Psychology

The following list is of some selected, peer reviewed scholarly articles and summaries from the mainstream media (e.g., New York Times, the Guardian). This is offered in the spirit of supporting diversity through contemporary research validating the noble traditions of depth psychology. It highlights the clinical and scholarly affirmation of depth psychological approaches that attend to unconscious processes, relational aspects of treatment, psychic complexity, and embodied experiences.

Abbass, A. A., Hancock, J. T., Henderson, J., & Kisely, S. R. (2006). Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapies for common mental disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (2013). Recognition of psychotherapy effectiveness. Psychotherapy, 50(1), 102–109. Available at:

Anton, B. (2015, October 14). Talk Therapy Works. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Burkeman, O. (2016, January 7). Therapy wars: The revenge of Freud. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Chiesa, M. (2010). Research and psychoanalysis: Still time to bridge the great divide? Psychoanalytic Psychology, 27(2), 99–114.

Cohler, B. J., & Galatzer-Levy, R. (2007). What kind of science is psychoanalysis? Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 27(5), 547–582. Available from:

Cornelius, J. T. (2014, Oct. 7th). The Case for Psychoanalysis (Version 4). Retrieved from

Evidence base of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Institute of Psychoanalysis. Retrieved from

Fonagy, P., Rost, F., Carlyle, J., McPherson, S., Thomas, R., Pasco Fearon, R. M., … Taylor, D. (2015). Pragmatic randomized controlled trial of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression: the Tavistock Adult Depression Study (TADS). World Psychiatry, 14 (3), 312–321.

Gaskin, Cadeyrn (2014). The effectiveness of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy: A literature review of recent international and Australian research. PACFA. Retrieved from

Gerber, A. J., Kocsis, J. H., Milrod, B. L., Roose, S. P., Barber, J. P., Thase, M. E., … Leon, A. C. (2011). A quality-based review of randomized controlled trials of psychodynamic psychotherapy. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 168(1), 19–28. Available from:

Keller, W., Westhoff, G., Dilg, R., Rohner, R., & Studt, H. H. (2002). Efficacy and cost effectiveness aspects of outpatient (Jungian) psychoanalysis and psychotherapy–A catamnestic study. In M. Leuzinger-Bohleber, M. Target, M. (Ed) Leuzinger-Bohleber, & M. (Ed) Target (Eds.), Outcomes of psychoanalytic treatment: Perspectives for therapists and researchers. (pp. 186–197). Philadelphia, PA: Whurr Publishers.

Lazar, S. G. (2010). Psychotherapy is worth it: A comprehensive review of its cost-effectiveness. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publications.

Leichsenring, F., Leweke, F., Klein, S., & Steinert, C. (2015). The empirical status of psychodynamic psychotherapy—An update: Bambi’s alive and kicking. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 84(3), 129–148. Available from:

Leichsenring, F., & Klein, S. (2014). Evidence for psychodynamic psychotherapy in specific mental disorders: A systematic review. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 28(1), 4–32.

Leichsenring, F., & Leibing, E. (2007). Psychodynamic psychotherapy: A systematic review of techniques, indications and empirical evidence. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 80(2), 217–228.

Levy, R. A., Ablon, J. S., & Kächele, H. (2012). Psychodynamic psychotherapy research: Evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence. New York, NY: Humana press.

McGowan, K. (2014, April). The second coming of Sigmund Freud. Discover Magazine. Retrieved from

Mishna, F., Van Wert, M., & Asakura, K. (2013). The best kept secret in social work: Empirical support for contemporary psychodynamic social work practice. Journal of Social Work Practice, 27(3), 289–303.

Richards, G. (2008). Jung’s social psychological meanings. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 18(2), 108–118.

Roesler, C. (2013). Evidence for the effectiveness of Jungian psychotherapy: A review of empirical studies. Behavioral Sciences, 3(4), 562–575. Available from:

Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 65(2), 98–109. Available from:

Shedler, J. (2015). Where is the Evidence for “Evidence-Based” Therapy? The Journal of Psychological Therapies in Primary Care, 4(1), 47–59. Available from:

Where the power lies in the therapist-client relationship. (2016, January 12). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Whether to pick sides in psychology today. (2016, January 12). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Related Bibliographies:

American Psychoanalytic Association:

American Psychoanalytic Association:

CORE Research Bibliography.

Committee on Research Education Bibliography 2015.

British Psychoanalytic Council:

Research and Evidence.

Contemporary Freudian Society:

Effectiveness of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies.

Depth Psychology and Psychoanalysis

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung

What Is Depth Psychology?

Depth psychology is a term used to describe any psychological approach which explores the hidden or deeper aspects of human experience. It is a broad term that includes approaches which look at interpersonal dynamics and the development of patterns of behavior. The field of depth psychology originated in the work of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, visionaries who called attention to the importance of what lies below the surface of ordinary awareness.

What is Psychoanalysis?

Depth psychologists regard the human psyche as being partly conscious and partly unconscious. Psychoanalysis, including Jungian analysis, is the main approach to therapy based upon depth psychology. This form of treatment aims at exploring underlying motives as an approach to psychological distress, with the belief that uncovering these motives is intrinsically healing. Analysis seeks the deeper layers that lie beneath our conscious awareness, behavior and thoughts.

Individuals can uncover these layers in psychoanalysis but they are also evident in literature, the expressive arts, dreams, and in the physical and psychological symptoms suffered by individuals and cultures.

Contemporary Psychoanalysis

The original theories of Freud and Jung have evolved continuously and creatively over the rich, hundred year history of depth psychoanalytic treatment. Despite our “quick fix” culture, psychoanalysis is still widely practiced in the United States. It remains the most in-depth form of therapy, with an unmatched understanding of the human psyche and the most rigorously and thoroughly trained therapists in the field of mental health. It is among the more non-pathologizing and strength affirming forms of psychotherapy.

Today, evidence for the efficacy of depth approaches is growing. Studies have shown that depth therapies have a longer-lasting and more profound impact than cognitive or behavioral psychologies alone. Contemporary scholars are expanding the field in the light of systems theories, ecological thought and neuroscience.

Who Benefits from Psychoanalysis?

A psychoanalytic or depth psychological approach is well-suited for people who want to understand themselves at a deeper level and to discover greater meaning, purpose and creative fulfillment in their lives. It’s recommended for those seeking to transform destructive or limiting patterns, especially when those patterns are long-standing and repetitive. It’s also helpful for people seeking to heal the effects of painful or traumatic past experiences and when previous, less intensive therapy or counseling has not been helpful enough.
Like other therapies, psychoanalysis is concerned with easing emotional suffering.  But while it may include solving problems or coping with crisis, analysis aims at more lasting change by facilitating deeper psychological growth. This involves transforming problematic patterns, both in relationships with others and in relationship to ourselves, as well as uncovering blocks that prevent us from living our full creative potential.
By incorporating both inner and outer exploration, the individual discovers a more potent sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Many people find that depth psychology coherently explains life experiences and offers a path for individuation—that is, for developing one’s unique personality— while also allowing space for the mystery and creativity of life.

Jungian Analysis

I specialize in a particular branch of depth psychology called Jungian psychology or Jungian analysis. This approach is at home with myth and symbol, with the religious and spiritual traditions of the world, with anthropology and archeology, with art, poetry, and literature.

Here are some resources to help you learn more about depth psychology and psychoanalysis:

A brief article in Forbes titled, “Why it’s time to take a new look at Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.”

Jungian Analyst Lionel Corbett MD gives an excellent 30 minute video talk on the benefits of psychotherapy that is based on depth psychology.

This excellent Scientific American article by Jonathan Shedler discusses the research behind psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapies.

If you don’t have time to read the article above, here is a short Psychology Today summary by the same author.