Is Jung relevant today?
In today’s counselling environment Jung’s observations can help determine therapeutic goals. For example, an individual who is extremely extrovert may have lost touch with who he really is and what he actually wants. In this instance, consideration could be given to focussing on his introverted side to investigate who he really is. Homework could be given to encourage him to spend time on introspection, questioning his relationships with others, what he thinks he needs from others, what he thinks he actually gets from others, how he feels, why he is trying to impress them etc. This may lead on to discovering that he has difficulty saying “no” to his colleagues and work can then commence on that aspect. Also, through introspection, repressed feelings (from the personal or collective consciousness) may arise into consciousness which can consequently be worked on accordingly.
An individual presenting with an unbalanced archetype, e.g., cannot separate from the “persona” may be able, through introspection, to figure out which behaviours are acceptable, which behaviours are judged by the individual to be negative and look at the reasons behind the individual’s judgment.
Finally, one’s shadow can be investigated, again through introspection, so that any undesirable thoughts can be consciously faced, acknowledged and accepted allowing the individual to be more in control of these unconscious thoughts and not fear them.
Although rarely used by psychologists in a clinical setting, psychometric tests which have been adapted from Jung’s typology, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Gray-Wheelwright Type Survey, and the Singer-Loomis Inventory are commonly used today. Such tests have become fairly well known over the last few decades as they became more ‘fashionable’, and abridged versions are regularly featured in magazines. In the business world these tests can be useful in improving group dynamics, e.g., team building, to increase overall work productivity and are commonly used when managers are initiating novel ideas and projects. The MBTI is frequently used in career planning, professional development, and marketing. Educational environments also take advantage of these tests to establish how individuals prefer to perceive their external world and make decisions. From this information, teaching styles can be adapted accordingly and even the layout of the classroom can be adapted to benefit learning. These tests may also be useful in marriage counselling today, e.g., with regards to explanations behind ‘mid-life crisis’ and may lead to in-depth investigation of the individual’s ‘shadow’. Jung did not intend for his theory to be used to categorize or label individuals but more as a helpful judge of character. Jung’s work has provided us with a good foundation on which we can continue building. Personality types are worth taking into consideration in the counselling environment and have increased our awareness of individual characteristics.
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- Sharp, D. (1987). Personality types: Jung’s model of Typology. Inner city books, Toronto, Canada.
- Stevens, A. (1994) Jung: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.