I am delighted to announce the establishment of The Depth Leadership Trust. The Trust will operate with Prince Albert as its base. The overall objective of the Depth Leadership Trust is to increase the national awareness, knowledge and application of Depth Psychology principles.
The following two quotes summarise why depth psychology is important:
“The world today hangs by a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man.” CG Jung
“Whether a culture’s ‘folk psychology’, as it is called, incorporates an image of the unconscious, and what kind of image it is, makes a real difference to how life is lived.” Guy Claxton, The Wayward Mind
The detailed objectives of the Depth Leadership Trust are as follows:
- To develop awareness and understanding amongst the general population of the ideas behind depth psychology and how these ideas can be helpful in everyday living
- To conduct research into the discipline of depth psychology and its application to ordinary living, leadership and citizenship
- To develop and execute initiatives that aim to ensure the application of depth psychology in ordinary living, leadership and citizenship. In other words: to design and offer projects, interventions and activities that facilitate and enhance the integration of both the individual and collective human psyche (particularly through the expression of the unconscious mind)
- To specifically develop the knowledge and practice of depth leadership (leadership which incorporates the general principles of depth psychology) in organisations and communities
- To develop the awareness and understanding amongst the general public of the interconnectedness of all life forms, and our human role in healthy ecosystems and to support initiatives, interventions and projects that build healthy, integrated ecosystems
- To support individuals, groups, projects, and organisations that work to further any of the above objectives
Amongst others, the Trust will engage in the following main activities in order to achieve the above objectives:
- Intellectual and practical support for initiatives aligned with the Trust’s objectives
- The establishment of a physical centre in Prince Albert which has an extensive library, a meeting / class room, a reading room, and a reflection room with a sandtray and a variety of art and musical resources.
Depth Psychology Principles
Depth psychology is an evolving field which has as much disagreement within its ranks as it has agreement about general principles. The following principles are, broadly speaking, held to be true by most theorists in the field:
- Human beings have a “psyche” which carries the whole of mental life. It is the faculty for thought, feeling, memory, and imagination. The psyche is not just a combination of the body and the spirit, it has a life and language of its own.
- In addition to carrying all of our human potential, the psyche processes, records and stores all of our life experience. Using our earlier experiences, the psyche develops a subjective logical framework for perceiving and further processing ongoing experience.
- The psyche divides itself into a conscious and an unconscious part in order to manage internal conflict. Life experiences often expose us to ambivalence and irreconcilable conflicts that our psyches have to manage somehow. In order to do this, simply speaking, our psyche keeps one part (or parts) of complex experience in the conscious mind and buries the other, more “dangerous” part (or parts) in the unconscious mind.
- The unconscious mind is multi-layered in itself. Closer to the surface one will find individual personal experience and potential that for a range of reasons cannot be brought into consciousness, and the deeper bedrock of the unconscious mind contains shared collective archetypal forces that affect all human beings.
- The contents of the unconscious mind continue to influence behaviour, even though such contents are buried away from conscious control.
- Both the divisions in the psyche (caused by internal conflicts) and the deep archetypal drivers contribute to continual dynamic processes in the psyche. These alternate between developmental, integrative processes and defensive processes. Some theorists argue that the psyche is continually striving for greater integration.
- The psyche uses the language of imagery and symbolism to express itself. This language allows the simultaneous communication of multiple layers of meaning.
- Human experience becomes more meaningful when the psyche’s personal aspect encounters the deeper, archetypal or “transpersonal” aspect. A depth approach tries to make the connection between the different levels.
- Symptoms are messages from the psyche. Personal problems, blockages and symptoms, as well as interpersonal problems and conflicts can be viewed as a form of communication from the psyche about its developmental process. These can be resolved by interpreting the symbolism inherent in the difficulty and thereby finding the deeper archetypal meaning that is being communicated. Simply “silencing” the symptoms will mean that the inherent problem is not resolved and will almost certainly manifest in a different way.
- We are not separate from the people around us, our psyches are inextricably linked to one another. At the simplest level, when two people come together, they form a third “psyche” between them which has a life of its own. This applies to all interactions with others – there is always the creation of a collective psyche which is more than the sum of the individual psyches. The collective psyche will express itself in terms of psychodynamic patterns. In order to change the systems around us, we need to understand the psychodynamics of those systems and always work towards systemic psychic health.
- As a result of the psychic interactions between us, there is no such thing as purely objective research or action when it comes to the psyche. We have to take into account the influence of our unconscious minds on our conscious observations and thoughts. Any past experience that in any way resonates with current experiences will influence the way we perceive the current experience.
- Our psyches are inextricably linked to all the life forms around us. Our inner landscape will to some extent be a reflection of our outer landscape, so we are only really as well as our environment is. This implies that there is a human imperative to live responsibly on the planet and to care for our ecosystems.
- Like all disciplines, the original thinkers in the discipline of depth psychology operated and were to some extent limited by the culture from which they came. As such, some of the original theories were founded on biases and stereotypes that are no longer appropriate. Modern day depth psychology challenges stereotypes that lead to discrimination on demographic bases, and helps us to always consider the psyche in its entire context.
- In order to move to greater system’s health, whether it be the individual, the group or the ecosystem, a depth approach suggests that the voices, opinions, and experiences that are repressed, marginalised, silenced or simply ignored, are attended to and considered in the system decision-making processes.
Helene Smit and The South African College of Applied Psychology
Facilitation Skills 1: 22nd – 25th November 2011
Facilitation Skills 2: 24th-27th January 2012
These two four day courses follow on from one another and are designed to teach participants how to ensure effective group functioning, and if needed, effective group transformation. Facilitation 1 teaches the core skills of group facilitation and how to manage yourself as a facilitator. Facilitation 2 teaches how to manage under the surface group processes.
More details are given in the links to the brochures below. (If you have any difficulty opening these, please let me know and I will email them to you: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Facilitation 1 brochure
Facilitation 2 brochure
As a result of a complex early history, my life and my work have been centered around the notion of depth work in individuals and groups. Depth work is a term that refers to a philosophy and a set of practices based on Depth Psychology, a school of psychology that essentially is concerned with the idea of the unconscious in human systems. Depth psychology tries to understand the deeper motivations behind human behaviour, and is aimed at unleashing the full potential of each of us in a variety of settings. As a way of thinking, depth psychology offers an interesting lens through which to view the world, human interactions, and the events that result from our interactions.
In this blog, I will endeavour to capture some of the insights that I have while experiencing the world through the depth work lens. Of course, my comments will be coloured by the other lenses that inform my identity too. I will describe ways of thinking that have been useful to me in better managing myself in my world, and include some of the insights that I have gained in my work, whilst respecting the confidential nature of the work that I do. If there are particular areas or issues that you would like me to comment on, please let me know, and I will see if I can find some feedback that adds value.